Newly-appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has been hailed by President Barack Obama as “one of our country’s leading foreign policy thinkers”.
Power, 42, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, was confirmed in the new UN ambassadorial role after an 87-10 vote in the Senate.
She was born in Dublin but her family emigrated to America when she was aged nine.She grew up in Atlanta.
In a statement yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, President Obama described Power as “a long-time champion of human rights and dignity”.
He also said that Power – who’s the spouse of former White House regulatory czar Cass Sunstein – “will be a fierce advocate for universal rights, fundamental freedoms and U.S. national interests.
Power, who bagged a Pulitzer for her acclaimed 2002 book ‘A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide’, was appointed to the top job following the reassignment of her embattled predecessor, Susan Rice, as national security adviser in June.
While serving as UN ambassador, . Rice drew a torrent of criticism after falsely telling TV audiences five days after the terror attack in Benghazi that the destruction of the U.S. Consulate there was the result of a spontaneous protest.
Power has previously worked as a freelance reporter in Bosnia, as well as stints with The Washington Post, The Economist, U.S. News and World Report.
However, support for her appointment was not universal, drawing opposition in Republican circles.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and other conservatives mounted a mostly symbolic opposition to her nomination, drawing attention to comments she made back in 2002 that were critical of America’s policies toward Israel and the nation’s history of promoting ‘crimes’ overseas.
In a 2003 interview published in ‘The New Republic’, she called on The U.S. to make “a historical reckoning with crimes committed, sponsored , or permitted by The United States”.
The former journalist had also stated that a “mammoth protection force” might be necessary if the Palestinian Authority were granted statehood and recognized by most developed nations.
She argued at the time that Palestinian statehood could lead to genocide committed either by the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) or Israel, which would result in the U.S army being forced to step in. However, she later disavowed that assessment.
According to reports, Power has increasingly gained the support of most pro-Israel Republicans, including Arizona Sen. John McCain.
However, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee voted against Ms. Power’s confirmation, citing his objection to the White House’s habit of bypassing Congress when intervening in foreign countries.
In an interview with USA Today, Sen. Lee said: “I opposed the President’s intervention in Libya, and do not believe he had the necessary authorization from Congress to do so.
“Power’s nomination signals the president’s intention to continue using the U.N. to circumvent Congress on important issues while neglecting the need for effective and wide-ranging reforms.”