The US Senate has confirmed Samantha Power as Washington’s new ambassador to the UN. An expert on human rights and genocide, Power has advocated a tougher US policy toward Syria.
The Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of Power, a former war correspondent and the author of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning book “A Problem from Hell,” which examines the US failure to prevent several historical cases of genocide. Eighty-seven senators cast their ballots in her favor, while 10 Republicans opposed her confirmation as UN ambassador.
Power, 42, formerly served as a member of US President Barack Obama’s National Security Council (NSC). In that capacity, she reportedly played an instrumental role in convincing Obama to support the 2011 military intervention in Libya on humanitarian grounds. She has also advocated a tougher US policy toward the conflict in Syria.
“We see the failure of the UN Security Council to respond to the slaughter in Syria – a disgrace that history will judge harshly,” Power told the Senate. She opposed the 2003 US invasion of Iraq because the Bush administration did not seek a UN mandate.
Power replaces the outgoing US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, who has moved on to serve as President Obama’s national security advisor.
President Obama welcomed Power’s confirmation, calling her one of America’s “leading foreign policy thinkers.”
“As a long-time champion of human rights and dignity, she will be a fierce advocate for universal rights, fundamental freedoms and US national interests,” Obama said.
Although Power was overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate, she has previously stirred up controversy in the US. In a 2002 interview at UC Berkeley, Power said US ally Israel had committed “major human rights abuses” against Palestinians. She also referred to the pro-Israel lobby as a constituency with “tremendous political and financial import” in the US.
Power also said that a “meaningful military presence” might be needed to police an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.
Ultimately, Power retracted those statements in a 2008 interview with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. During her Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, Power criticized what she called an “unacceptable bias” against Israel. She also said she’d lobby for Israel to get one of the non-permanent, rotating seats on the Security Council.
slk/kms (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)