Dublin-born nominee for UN job labels inaction over Syria a ‘disgrace’

Obama candidate Samantha Power says she will resist UN’s ‘unacceptable bias’ against Israel

Samantha Power, the nominee to be the US representative to the United Nations, testifies before the Senate foreign relations committee  in Washington, DC yesterday. Power has received broad bipartisan support for her nomination. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Samantha Power, the nominee to be the US representative to the United Nations, testifies before the Senate foreign relations committee in Washington, DC yesterday. Power has received broad bipartisan support for her nomination. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 21:50

Dublin-born Samantha Power, President Obama’s nominee to be the next US ambassador to the United Nations, criticised the world body’s inaction over Syria as a committee of US senators vetted her for the job.

In a measured and confident performance at her Senate confirmation hearing, the former White House national security adviser said the failure of the UN security council to respond to the “slaughter” in Syria’s two-year bloody civil war was “a disgrace that history will judge harshly.”

The former human rights champion described the Syrian conflict as one of the worst “cases of mass brutality” she has seen. Power has earned cross-party political support from senior Republicans including Senator John McCain.

Power, who has been criticised for past comments considered critical of Israel, promised she would seek to stop “unacceptable bias and attacks” against Israel within the UN.She criticised the body’s disproportionate focus on Israel and noted the “absurdity” of Iran, which is seeking to become a nuclear power, being chair of the body’s conference on disarmament.

Power grew up in Castleknock, Dublin, until she moved with her family to the US at the age of nine. She reported on the Balkan conflict as a journalist and is the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about genocide.

In response to questions from Republican senator Marco Rubio, she backed away from comments in a 2003 article in which she said that the US needed “a historical reckoning” with crimes it had committed, sponsored or permitted.

“I, as an immigrant to this country, think this country is the greatest country on earth, as I know you do,” the 42-year-old foreign policy specialist said.

“I would never apologise for America. America is the light to the world. We have freedoms and opportunities here that people dream about abroad. I certainly did.”

Power distanced herself from comments she made in 2002 when she said that a “mammoth protection force” might be required in the Middle East if either Israel or Palestinians threatened genocide.

“I have disassociated myself from those comments many times,” she said. Power said that she has probably written about two million words in her career and that there are things she would write very differently today.

Power, who has not been known for her diplomacy in the past, famously resigned from Obama’s first presidential campaign for describing his rival Hillary Clinton as a “monster.”