Yesterday's Senate nomination hearing of Samantha Power as the Obama Administration's nominee to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations was one of the most important stories in Washington this week. Confirmation seems likely, and if her testimony was any indication, the Unites States is in for continued strong representation on the world's stage.
Aside from Senator Johnny Isakson's (R-GA) artful pun ("I have no doubt that she'll be just what her name implies: A powerful representative for the U.S. at the United Nations") and Senator Rand Paul's (R-KY) creative use of the word "groovy," here are the top five quotes from yesterday's hearing that you should see – all from the possible next leader to advance U.S. interests through the UN, Samantha Power:
1. "Sixty-eight years after the United Nations was founded in San Francisco, one fact is as true today as it was then: an effective UN depends on effective American leadership."
2. "...when we are out of UN agencies, which would be the consequence, ultimately, of defunding UN agencies, we can't stand up for Israel, we can't stand up for American values, we're not there leading on a range of other U.S. interests."
3. "Peacekeeping can perform an important service – Mali is a great example... We cannot afford to squander the gains that have been made and to allow al-Qaeda to regain a foothold in that country. [The peacekeepers] are going to be strengthening the Malian armed forces who hopefully will be in a stronger position to hold off any further resurgence."
4. "UN peacekeepers on Saturday suffered a horrific ambush that killed seven soldiers and wounded seventeen others – a reminder of the risks that UN personnel face every day. Elsewhere, today, we see physicians from the World Health Organization working with governments and local volunteers to provide polio vaccinations in Nigeria and Pakistan – determined to heal even as terrorists wage a campaign of assassinations against them. Just last Friday, the UN provided a platform for Malala Yousafzai – the brave young Pakistani girl who was shot in the head last year by Taliban gunmen on her way home from school – to inspire millions to stand up for girls' education."
5. "We must make choices based on the best interests of the American people. And other countries must share the costs and burdens of fighting injustice and preventing conflict. That is where the UN can be very important. There are challenges that cross borders that the United States alone cannot meet – terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and pandemics. There are cases – as with sanctions against Iran and North Korea – where U.S. efforts pack a far greater punch when we are joined by others."
The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations could vote to confirm Samantha Power any day now. Hopefully the full Senate will follow suit so that she can be in place before the UN General Assembly meets in New York this September.
We need an Ambassador who will be committed to continuing a legacy in which the United States has paid its dues to the UN, ensuring that American interests remain protected. This is the pathway to further the UN's vital work on behalf of peace, security, global health, and human rights around the world.