Biden appoints ex-US ambassador to UN Samantha Power to lead international aid agency

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Joe Biden on Wednesday named Samantha Power, the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, as his choice to lead the US Agency for International Development (USAID), citing her deep experience in managing crises around the world.

“There is simply no one better positioned to ensure that our development agenda is a central pillar of our foreign policy,” the President-elect of the United States said in a video statement.

Power was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in the Obama-Biden administration and also served on Barack Obama’s National Security Council, in addition to being a foreign policy and human rights adviser to the former Democratic president.

Her appointment brings her back to the heart of Democratic leadership. She fundamentally disagreed with the Obama-Biden administration’s decision not to order military intervention in the war in Syria.

On Wednesday, Power said, “Our safety is tied to the safety of people who live elsewhere. Many of the issues we face in the United States, the pandemic, the economic crisis, the climate consequences, threats to the rule of law, even to democracy – these are issues that people around the world are struggling with. grappling.

Biden has announced he will elevate the USAID administrator to sit on his White House National Security Council, which will be headed by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, an important step after Donald Trump steps down. be focused on reducing US aid abroad.

“Power will bring the international community together and work with our partners to address the greatest challenges of our time, including Covid-19, climate change, global poverty and democratic retreat,” Biden’s transition team said in a statement.

“A crisis-tested public servant and diplomat, Ambassador Power has been a leader in mobilizing the world to resolve long-standing conflicts, respond to humanitarian emergencies, defend human dignity and strengthen the rule of law and democracy, ”he added.

The longtime human rights defender served as ambassador to the UN under Barack Obama, the former Democratic President, and Biden from 2013 to 2017.

Power, 50, was also a member of the national security staff in the White House under Obama from 2009 to 2013.

A former journalist, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her book A Problem from Hell, a study of the American failure to prevent genocide. Power covered the war in Bosnia in the 1990s as an independent correspondent.

Related: Samantha Power: “ Falling flat in such a public way and not having a job … I was a wandering person ”

Power clashed with Obama over whether the United States should intervene militarily in the war in Syria, a cloud hanging over the legacy of the Obama administration.

Power argued for action but found itself on the losing side, drawing accusations of betrayal and hypocrisy from many former supporters and colleagues.

The United States gave limited support and training to rebel groups, but made no direct military intervention, even after Bashar al-Assad crossed Obama’s “red line” on chemical weapons, killing people. hundreds of people in the rebel suburb of Damascus with a sarin gas attack in the summer of 2013.

In A Problem from Hell, Power had written with admiration about the American diplomats who had resigned because of the United States’ inaction in the face of the Bosnian genocide.

When her turn came to quit, she decided not to. She believed that she could still achieve results by constantly pushing for human rights to be at the heart of foreign policy making. “There was so much we were able to do.”

Her public career almost ended prematurely during the 2008 presidential campaign when, in an interview with the Scotsman, she received a call from an assistant colleague of Obama regarding the main battle with Hillary Clinton, and called Clinton a “monster.”

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