Samantha Power, the president’s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, for the most part sailed through her confirmation hearing on Wednesday. She reiterated, “I will not apologize for America.” She repudiated some past remarks about sending an occupation force to secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and unlike Chuck Hagel sounded like she intended to defend Israel. She garnered bipartisan support and is likely to be confirmed easily.
However, I do want to focus on a throwaway line she felt obliged to use. In explaining her commitment to human rights she repeated the liberal mantra: “While our goodwill knows no bounds, our resources are finite, strained by pressing needs at home. And we are not the world’s policeman. We must make choices based on the best interests of the American people.” I would caution her to drop the “world’s policeman” line.
In fact, her own ideology requires that we do act as the world’s policeman in many instances. That is why she urged action in Libya and reportedly has pushed for stronger action in Syria. When she deplores the United Nations for failing to act in Syria, one realizes that in the absence of international action the United States does need to act — as policeman, if you will, to both prevent mass murder and secure our geopolitical interests.
She asserted, “We see the failure of the UN Security Council to respond to the slaughter in Syria – a disgrace that history will judge harshly.” Surely she knows that history will say the same of the administration she serves.
She sat on the president’s “atrocity prevention” board, but the only real atrocity prevention entity is a U.S. administration with the will to wield soft and hard power. One suspects she knows this. Indeed in her opening statement she noted: “The war in Bosnia didn’t end because the U.N. was shamed by the massacres in Srebrenica. It ended because President Clinton, backed by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, decided that American values and interests were imperiled and acted to end the war.” He “acted” by using military air power.
This is not meant as an indictment of Power. She is quite frankly the best of the lot in this administration. But we hope she puts aside the shibboleths of the left to make the case that yes, in many instances the United States is the world’s policeman. Without one, we have seen in the last four or so years, tyrants repress their own people, regional tensions multiply, refugee crises mount and threats to the West escalate. She is unlikely to change the president’s preference for inertness, but she can be a stronger voice for the victims and a ferocious critic of their oppressors.