Samantha Power: How the Realists View Her

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Samantha Power
National Interest

Today Obama will tap Samantha Power as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The move is no surprise to reporter Jacob Heilbrunn, who predicted Power’s new role in his profile of her for the May/June 2011 issue of National Interest magazine. The cover story, “Interventionista!,” recounts her career as a journalist and author, her role in pushing Obama to intervene in Libya, and how she joined Obama’s administration after calling Hillary Clinton a “monster” during the 2008 presidential campaign. Here’s a key excerpt:

Power is not just an advocate for human rights. She is an outspoken crusader against genocide. She has referred self-deprecatingly to herself as the “genocide chick.” She has made it her life’s mission to shame American statesmen into action and to transform U.S. foreign policy. And as she seeks to create a new paradigm, she is becoming a paradigmatic figure. She is a testament to the collapse of the old foreign policy establishment and the rise of a fresh elite. This elite is united by a shared belief that American foreign policy must be fundamentally transformed from an obsession with national interests into a broader agenda that seeks justice for women and minorities, and promotes democracy whenever and wherever it can—at the point of a cruise missile if necessary. The same century-long progressive expansion of the democratic franchise that has taken place at home is also supposed to occur abroad. She is, you could say, the prophet armed…

She may be the most influential journalist-turned-presidential-adviser since a young Walter Lippmann drafted the Fourteen Points for Woodrow Wilson, only to become a chastened realist after the Treaty of Versailles made a mockery of Wilsonianism and the internationalist dream.

Perhaps Power’s next destination is to become United Nations ambassador. Maybe she will follow in the footsteps of Madeleine Albright and ultimately become secretary of state. In his memoir, The Audacity of Hope, Obama observed that Power “combed over each chapter.” Now she has begun to exercise the same influence over his approach to foreign affairs. Obama entered office, like George W. Bush, promising to repudiate the arrogance of his predecessor, only to be seduced by the lure of militant democracy.

You can read the entire National Interest profile here.