The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

June 5, 2013
Samantha Power's remarkable path to United Nations

Samantha Power, in line to become our next ambassador to the United Nations, took a remarkable journey to the White House Rose Garden today.

I've been a fan ever since I started reading her dispatches from the Balkan wars in the mid-1990s. She won a much-deserved Pulitzer Prize for her 2002 book "A Problem from Hell," an unsparing indictment of U.S. indifference to genocide in Rwanda and elsewhere.

She had a hiccup when she had to step down from Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign when she called Hillary Clinton a "monster" for some of her campaign tactics.

But Power recovered and joined the Obama national security team. She has moved from outside critic to government insider.

UPDATE: In announcing her nomination as ambassador to the U.N., Obama called her a leading journalist, one of the most foremost thinkers on foreign policy and a strong voice for "moral responsibility" and "human dignity" in international affairs.

"I'm fully confident she'll be ready on day one," the president said.

Power, an Irish immigrant, called it "an honor of a lifetime to fight for American values and interests" at the United Nations.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Power will represent the United States in a problematic body. As she described, the U.N. can do much good -- she has seen aid workers feed the hungry in Sudan -- but often falls short -- she has seen peacekeepers fail to protect civilians in Bosnia.

The U.N. is also filled with many regimes and leaders she has criticized. Based on her history, some observers expect her to support more aggressive U.S. intervention to safeguard human rights, though the final call is always the president's.

To recap her career: war correspondent, academic, human rights activist, author, political aide, government official. It's not quite an only-in-America story, but there are not many places in the world her journey would be possible.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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