Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told an audience at the Center for American Progress in Washington Friday that there is “no risk-free door #2” in regard to Syria.
Power was in town to repeat the administration’s pitch for military action against the regime of Bashar al-Assad for its alleged use of chemical weapons on August 21, killing an estimated 1,400 civilians, many of them children. Power is uniquely positioned to make the plea for action: she won a Pulitzer Prize for her book A Problem From Hell which examined international responses to genocide in the last century, and has been an outspoken proponent for the use of force for humanitarian reasons.
Certainly the civil war in Syria fits the parameters of her book’s title, and she made a persuasive, if oft repeated, case that Assad’s use of chemical weapons was a “uniquely monstrous crime.”
Power also made the case that if there were no consequences for the use of chemical weapons, then Iran, North Korea and Hezbollah would be emboldened. She said that the U.S. must take limited military action against the use of weapons of mass destruction to “deter others in the world who may follow suit.”
“The alternative is to give a green light to outrages that will threaten our security and haunt our conscience, outrages that will eventually compel us to use force anyway down the line at far greater risk and cost to our own citizens,” Power said.
Power also said that pro-Israel organizations had come out in favor of a strike, because Israel’s security was threatened by the ongoing instability in the area.
Anti-war organization Code Pink protested outside Power’s talk.
“It’s disgusting. She’s been reincarnated as a war hawk,” Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin said, according to the Telegraph.
Coincidentally, the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin wrote a post Friday praising Power and her no-nonsense calling out of Russia and China for their intransigence regarding Syria. Rubin compared Power to her predecessors Jean Kirkpatrick and John Bolton.
“First, conduct in the United Nations (as should be the case anywhere) must have consequences, whether it is Russia vetoing a Syrian resolution or the Palestinian Authority breaking numerous treaties to seek recognition unilaterally for a Palestinian state or countries taking pot shots at Israel,” wrote Rubin.
“Once we make that clear, then there might be a slight diminution of anti-West, anti-Israel bashing. We have to be able to identify miscreants, call them out and then hold them accountable in some visible way.”