It certainly sounded like the old Samantha Power. At her confirmation hearing Wednesday, President Obama's nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations called the U.N.'s failure to act in Syria "a disgrace that history will judge harshly." But Power knows as well as anyone, having written the definitive book on the subject, that the U.N. acts effectively only when the United States leads. And the United States has not done so under the leader she serves, especially on Syria. Power's statement only served to remind people how quiet she's really been these last few years, a former firebrand who once passionately championed humanitarian intervention--and Obama as its savior--but who in reality hitched her wagon to perhaps the most conservative president on foreign policy since Dwight Eisenhower.
The lack of U.S. action in Syria, while somewhat understandable given the radical Islamist aims of many of the rebels fighting Bashar Assad, is the best evidence that Power has changed from a buzz saw into a bureaucrat. And perhaps not a very effective one. One reason Power has been publicly quiet is that for the last few years, she's been working hard at the White House setting up a pet project: Obama's new Atrocities Prevention Board, of which she was the first chair. The idea was to set up bureaucratic interagency lines of communication to pass on information about humanitarian horrors and how to stop them. "Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America," Obama said a year ago in a speech partly drafted by Power, as he announced the new board.