Right wing urges senators to reject Obama’s pick for U.N. ambassador

By Kavya Sukumar -- Medill News Service   |   July 8, 2013 at 10:03 AM   |   0 comments

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WASHINGTON, July 8 -- Former military leaders and pro-Israel activists urged the U.S. Senate on Wednesday to reject Samantha Power’s nomination to the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

President Barack Obama nominated Power on June 5 to succeed Ambassador Susan Rice as the Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations.

The event on Wednesday, held at the National Press Club and organized by the Center for Security Policy, a Washington based foreign policy think tank, was attended by some of Power’s fiercest critics including former Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., and Jose Sorzano, a former U.S. deputy permanent representative to the U.N..

“In light of her low regard for our country, her animus towards one of our most important allies, Israel, and her affinity for those who would diminish our sovereignty and strengthen our adversaries, we consider her to be a wholly unacceptable choice for this sensitive post and urge you to reject this nomination,” they wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

But Obama, in announcing Power’s nomination at the White House last month, expressed a different sentiment. “To those who care deeply about America’s engagement and indispensable leadership in the world, you will find no stronger advocate for that cause than Samantha.” The president called her “experienced, effective and energetic.”

West questioned Power’s qualification and said she is nothing more than an Obama loyalist. He said that her anti-Israel statements in the past are a cause for concern.

Power remarked in 2002 that the U.S. may have to deploy a “mammoth protection force” in Israel and Palestinian territories to uphold human rights and to “invest in a new state of Palestine.”

West ridiculed the nomination. “Perhaps,” he said “she is the ideal for Obama administration as an ambassador to the United Nations.”

Power, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” has taught foreign policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She was a special assistant to Obama and also served on the National Security Council.

Sorzano said that Power is not aggressive enough for the U.N., which he likened to a battle ground. He said that the U.S. should not have to apologize to the world. Power has been an advocate of “instituting a doctrine of mea culpa” to show the world that “Americans do not endorse the sins of their predecessors.”

Retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin, who was also on the think tank panel, said “What [Power] would really like to do is cede our authority to [the U.N.]”

Despite the opposition, she has supporters on both sides of the aisle in the Senate, as well as among diplomats. A number of Republicans including Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., have expressed their support.

Rice, who has been named as Obama’s national security advisor, said last month, “Without question, the United States will be ably and energetically represented by my nominated successor, Samantha Power, who is now before the Senate, knock on wood, for confirmation.”

The Irish-born Power, a self-styled “humanitarian hawk”, was criticized by the panel for promoting military engagement in causes that do not threaten U.S. national security.

“I don’t want someone to be in a position that sees [people in uniform] as [people] they could throw into a meat grinder for some really distorted, misguided view and perspective of human rights and humanitarian assistance,” West said.

Obama has urged the Senate to confirm her without delay:

"She knows the U.N.’s strengths. She knows its weaknesses. She knows that American interests are advanced when we can rally the world to our side.”


No date has been set for the Senate hearing to confirm or reject Power’s nomination.
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