Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Samantha Power ’92: diplomatic?

In the heat of the 2008 presidential primary campaign, Samantha Power ’92 called Hillary Rodham Clinton ’73JD “a monster—that is off the record.”

Thus ended Power’s stint as campaign adviser to Barack Obama. Now, almost exactly five years after that famously undiplomatic moment, Obama has nominated her to the nation’s most famous diplomatic position: US ambassador to the United Nations.

A former journalist and Harvard professor, Power won a Pulitzer Prize for her 2002 book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. (Do the math: she was in her early 30s.) Obama hired her onto his Senate staff after reading the book. In recent years, Power worked in a human rights post at the National Security Council, where—among other things—she pushed for US military intervention in Libya. In his June 5 announcement of her nomination to the UN, Obama called Power “one of our foremost thinkers on foreign policy” and ”a relentless advocate for American interests and values.”

The nomination drew strong reactions from supporters and critics alike. A Fox News commentator called it a “major disappointment,” saying that Power led “an embarrassing policy of inaction—during which 80,000 plus Syrians were killed by violence created by their own government, thousands of Sudanese were ethnically-cleansed in Darfur, and hundreds of thousands were murdered and displaced in the Congo.” Others call her a “hater of Israel.”

Power’s boosters include not only the obvious—Human Rights Watch chief Kenneth Roth ’80 (an excellent choice") and a former Obama administration colleague (“just what the United Nations needs”)—but also some surprises. Her former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz ’62LLB, for example, defends Power against the charge that she’s anti-Israel, adding: “She will have to be more diplomatic than she was while in private life.”

Filed under Samantha Power, United Nations, human rights
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