Conservatives Urge Rejection of Obama’s U.N. Ambassador Pick

By Patrick Goodenough | July 17, 2013 | 4:19 AM EDT

President Barack Obama nominated his former aide Samantha Power as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on June 5, 2013. (AP File Photo)

( – The battle surrounding President Obama’s nomination of Samantha Power to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations heated up Tuesday when a group of conservative policy experts and others urged senators not to confirm her, accusing her of having an “affinity for those who would diminish our sovereignty and strengthen our adversaries.”

Several Republican senators have indicated they will not oppose Power’s nomination, however, including some members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has scheduled a confirmation hearing for Wednesday.

A letter organized by the Center for Security Policy, sent to every senator, characterized Power’s views as in line with those held by U.N. member-states that are antagonistic to America.

“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,” it said.

Among the more than 50 signatories were retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, former Florida Rep. Lt. Col. Allen West, former deputy ambassador to the U.N. Jose Sorzano and leaders from organizations including the Eagle Forum, Christian Coalition of America, American Values, Zionist Organization of America and the Center for Security Policy.

The letter expressed concern about Power’s nomination at a time when “[f]reedom-loving nations are under assault – arguably as never before – from totalitarian adversaries, Islamist ideologues, terrorist groups and other enemies. Such foes have found legitimacy and sustenance in the United Nations.”

“It is imperative that the American people be presented with the stark contrast between the views of President Obama’s nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador at the United Nations, and those of generations of our countrymen and women, who have fought for this country’s sovereignty and helped achieve – and believed in – its greatness,” Gaffney said in a statement.

“Samantha Power’s record suggests that she is better suited to represent the virulently anti-American U.N. to the United States, rather than the other way around.”

A former Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Power founded the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, worked as an advisor to then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2005, and later for his presidential campaign. She was named senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights in Obama’s first-term National Security Council, and was appointed to chair a new Atrocities Prevention Board in 2012.

Obama last month nominated her to the cabinet-level post in New York, to succeed Susan Rice who became national security advisor on July 1.

Past statements by Power that have troubled the signatories of the letter and others include much-cited excerpts from a 2003 New Republic article in which she argued in favor of “a historical reckoning with crimes committed, sponsored, or permitted by the United States.”

“Instituting a doctrine of the mea culpa would enhance our credibility by showing that American decision-makers do not endorse the sins of their predecessors,” Power wrote.

Another statement that has drawn criticism was contained in a 2004 review of a Noam Chomsky book, in which Power said the U.S. must “stop being so selective in applying its principles.”

“We have ‘official enemies’ – those whose police abuses, arms shipments and electoral thefts we eagerly expose (Zimbabwe, Burma, North Korea, Iran),” she wrote. “But the sins of our allies in the war on terror (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan) are met with ‘intentional ignorance.’”

In that instance, Gaffney said the signatories were concerned about Power “lumping Israel’s ‘sins’ in the war on terror with those of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.”

‘Relentless advocate’

At a press conference at the National Press Club early this month attended by some of the signatories, Boykin said that he had concluded from an examination of Power’s past writing that “what she would really like to do is to cede our authority” to the U.N.

“We should be proud to be Americans, and if you look at Samantha Power’s track record there is a strong indication that her attitude is just the opposite,” he said.

When he announced her nomination at the White House, Obama called Power a “relentless advocate for American interest and values,” and someone who knows both the U.N.’s strengths and its weaknesses.

“She knows American interests are advanced when we can rally the world to our side,” he said. “And she knows that we have to stand up for the things that we believe in.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, come out in support of Power on the day of the announcement, describing her as “well-qualified for this important position” and voicing hope for a swift confirmation.

Other Republicans on the committee who support the nomination include Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and James Risch (Idaho), The Hill reported this week.

Among those praising her nomination were the Anti-Defamation League, which described Power as “an individual whose moral resolve and fierce pragmatism will serve our country well,” and the National Democratic Jewish Council, which called her “the country’s foremost scholar on genocide and an outspoken advocate for human rights.”

But the Republican Jewish Coalition said the nominee “has a record of statements that are very troubling to Americans who support Israel” and urged senators to question her closely on past statements and writings.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow