Tuesday 22 October 2019

Irish-born Power becomes Obama's new woman at UN

Samantha Power speaks about her appointment after US President Barack Obama made his announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House. Photo: Reuters
Samantha Power speaks about her appointment after US President Barack Obama made his announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House. Photo: Reuters
US President Barack Obama in the Rose Garden of the White House announces Samantha Power, left, as the new US Amabassador the UN. Susan Rice, far right, is his new National Security Adviser, replacing Tom Donilon

Mark O'Regan

SAMANTHA Power's family have spoken of their "incredible pride" after US President Barack Obama nominated the Irish-born Pulitzer Prize-winning author as the new US Ambassador to the UN.

In a major shake-up of his foreign policy team President Obama, Ms Power replaces Susan Rice, who was named yesterday as the president's new national security adviser.


Ms Rice will succeed Tom Donilon, who has resigned after heading the National Security Council since October 2010.

Ms Power (42) was born in Dublin in 1970. Following the break-up of her parents' marriage she relocated to the US with her mother and brother when she was nine in 1979.

Ms Power, a close foreign policy adviser during the 2008 Obama campaign, resigned after publicly describing Ms Clinton, Mr Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination, as "a monster".

During the 1990s, the noted commentator on genocide worked as a journalist before going to Harvard Law School. She went on to study at Yale and won a Pulitzer Prize for her book on genocide in 2003, entitled 'A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide'.

It was written while she was a professor at Harvard's School of Government, and was critical of America's reluctance to condemn major atrocities as 'genocide'.

Power will leave her current role as head of the human rights division at the National Security Council.

"We're all delighted and only got the news at lunchtime. None of us knew anything," Power's aunt Anne Horgan told the Irish Independent from their home in Tivoli in Co Cork. "But we did think there was a possibility that she would get it. She has great experience travelling around the world because she's gone everywhere within her human rights activities.

"She's a professor in Harvard so she certainly has the intelligence for it. We're all very proud, it's well deserved."

Ms Power was a senior foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama, and is considered to have played an instrumental role in shaping his foreign policy.

However, she was forced to resign during his presidential primary campaign in 2008 after she made disparaging remarks about his Democratic Party rival Hillary Clinton.

She returned to work for Obama soon after he took office and became a member of his National Security Council with responsibility of human rights. She has been widely praised for her work, especially on the issue of the Libya intervention.

She married law professor Cass Sunstein at Loher church, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Co Kerry, in 2008.

Ms Rice's appointment as head of the National Security Council will be seen as a resounding vote of confidence from the president after the battering she received from Republicans over the White House's response to the fatal attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, last September, where four Americans were killed.

Ms Rice had been the favourite to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in the second Obama term. But faced with the certainty of stormy confirmation hearings, she withdrew her name from consideration in December.

The job eventually went to John Kerry. Her new post, however, requires no Senate confirmation.

Irish Independent

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