The paths of two powerful women, Susan Rice and Samantha Power, are once again crossing, 11 years after a major disagreement over a key U.S. foreign policy decision.
President Barack Obama nominated Rice to be national security advisor, and Power to be ambassador to the United Nations.
“Over the last four years, Samantha has worked hand and glove with Susan,” Obama said in the White House Rose Garden Wednesday. “In her role, Samantha has been the lead White House staffer on issues related to the United Nations.”
The glove, however, has not always fit so well; the ghosts of the Rwandan genocide remain a painful reminder of a red mark on American foreign policy.
Serving as a member of the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, Susan Rice was a major player in the do-nothing approach to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the bloody civil war that witnessed the massive slaughter of over 500,000 people, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate.
It was none other than Samantha Power who condemned Rice’s behavior.
In her 2002 book Pulitzer Prize winning book, “A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide,” Power reported Rice saying during a meeting, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional midterm] election?”
Rice later apologized and told Power, “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”
Her record has since shown swift efforts to make good on this promise, emerging an advocate for intervention in Libya in 2011.
Obama described Power as “one of our countries leading journalists” and Rice as “one of our foremost thinkers on foreign policy” and expects both to lead the charge in “defending human dignity” in their new roles, he said in Wednesday’s announcement.