Manifest Boston Stories

Samantha Power on the Power of U.S. Leadership

Written by Kate Clinton | Oct 13, 2018 4:10:46 PM

HUBweek’s co-founder Linda Henry sat down yesterday with Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, about her experiences in public service and the power of U.S. leadership.

Samantha was first drawn to a career in international relations while interning for CBS Sports in college. She was working at the station when the footage from Tiananmen Square came on to the live feed, and became a correspondent covering the Yugoslav Wars before attending Harvard Law School. Her work at Harvard ultimately connected her to Barack Obama, then a freshman senator, and she was involved with his presidential campaign before being named the UN Ambassador in 2013.

Linda asked Samantha what she’s most proud of from her time in the Obama administration. Samantha mentioned a project championing the cases of women imprisoned for political reasons—known as “Free the 20.” One of the most interesting things about the initiative, according to her, was that its importance transcended party lines. Female senators from both parties rallied around the cause and, in the end, 16 of the 20 women were freed as a result of the project’s efforts.

The talk also touched on current events, with Linda asking Samantha for her thoughts on missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Samantha expressed her outrage and discussed similar “monstrous acts” that other countries have committed—Russia’s alleged poisoning of former spies in Britain, for example. Saying, “This is what happens when you don’t believe in international norms,” she stressed that current U.S. leadership must use the Khashoggi case to send a message to Saudi Arabia—and the world more broadly—that this behavior is not tolerated.

Samantha acknowledged that she disagrees with the Trump administration’s policies but said that “pluralism is our greatest strength,” and that she has faith in the country’s ability to lead ethically and responsibly again.