The confirmation hearing for Samantha Power, President Obama’s pick to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, began on Wednesday.
Power appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and in her opening statement said the United Nations must stand up for human rights and human dignity. She called both American values.
A former foreign policy adviser to President Obama, Power is a vocal human rights advocate who won a Pulitzer Prize for her 2002 book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.
Some former military leaders, national security officials and conservative political groups have been pushing senators to reject her nomination.
Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz has called her nomination “deeply troubling” but Power won the support of three key Republicans on the committee including Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake and Idaho Sen. James Risch, according to The Hill.
Power’s critics have pointed to controversial remarks she made in a 2002 interview with a public access television program where she answered a question on how the U.S. should respond to a hypothetical genocide situation in the Israel-Palestinian conflict that some interpreted as critical of the pro-Israel lobby in America.
“Israel’s legitimacy should be beyond dispute, and its security must be beyond doubt,” Power told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday. “And just as I have done as President Obama’s U.N. adviser at the White House, I will stand up for Israel and work tirelessly to defend it.”
Since her nomination, she’s successfully reached out to American Jewish leaders to address their concerns and received support from Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren and from other pro-Israel groups. Several high-profile former Bush administration officials have also come out in support of her nomination including Paul Wolfowitz and Michael Chertoff.
“I don’t expect a battle over her confirmation,” said former Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns on Jansing & Co. Wednesday. ”She has a group of former Bush administration people supporting her and she is widely considered to be an advocate of very strong, very aggressive American leadership in the world. “
The United Nations has been criticized for its lack of action against human rights violators around the world. Burns says Power’s strong advocacy for the Unite States and her outspoken style may work well at the U.N.
“It’s not shrinking violets, but sometimes [it’s the] people who are very aggressive advocates of the United States that win a lot of applause overseas and that win the cooperation of countries around the world,” Burns said. “Most countries want to see an activist United States, not a United States withdrawing into isolationism.”