Who is Samantha Power? Pulling Back the Curtain On Obama's New UN Ambassador


President Obama has nominated Samantha Power to be the next ambassador to the United Nations (UN). Powers selection indicates a more interventionist strategy for Obama which may include using the military. While Obama assures Americans that he will “bring the troops home,” Power may send them back out.

Power is a noted academic, writer and presidential adviser. Her book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003. In the book, Power states that America’s leaders have been reluctant to condemn mass-atrocities as acts of genocide. She also states that America has not taken a leadership role in organizing multi-national efforts to stop genocide. Obama liked her ideas enough to make her a foreign policy advisor.  

Another book written by Power, Chasing The Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and The Fight to Save the World did not receive the same accolades as her first. This book was written about Sergio Vieira de Mello who was a Brazilian diplomat to the UN. Power admired his ability to solve problems and to lead from the front during crises. This book was a tribute to Vieira de Mello who died in Iraq in 2003.

Power has also received notoriety for some of her other ideas and statements. In 2002, she recommended sending U.S. troops to Israel to create a large peacekeeping force. The peacekeepers would help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli human rights violations. In 2008, Power referred to Hilary Clinton as a “monster” and was forced to resign from Obama’s presidential campaign. Obama did hire her back as an adviser on preventing genocide.

If Power’s past performance is an indication of future activities then America can expect to send its’ military on more operations. Power has already been credited for convincing Obama to use military force in Libya. Her books indicate her disdain for American inactivity to stop genocide and her appreciation for those who lead from the front. As a new UN ambassador, Power will try to make an immediate impact based on her ethics and philosophies.

The unfortunate thing is that UN peacekeeping efforts are expensive and don’t always work as intended. The Eastern Congo and Kosovo are reminders of that. What remains is the use of force to prevent genocide or mass atrocities. That falls again on the shoulders of the US military. Power’s philosophies will keep the military busy.