If there were such a thing as a foreign policy earthquake, the magnitude of yesterday’s White House reshuffle would have measured quite high.
Twitter, blogs and media were abuzz with the news that the US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice would take over as National Security Advisor and former journalist Samantha Power is to occupy Rice’s former seat at the UN.
You may remember Rice as the potential candidate for Secretary of State who’s comments following the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi became an attack point for Congressional Republicans and led to her withdrawal from consideration.
Power comes with her own baggage. The former journalist and academic was a strong critic of the lack of action by the United States during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. She is a strong advocate for the US taking an active role in genocide prevention and joined Rice in advocating for the US-led intervention into Libya in 2011.
Rice and Power represent a multitude of things to the humanitarian world. For some, Rice is a strong Africanist that will bring the continent to the forefront. Others will point to her failure on Rwanda and subsequent close relationship with President Kagame as problematic. Power is polarizing in her bend towards interventions. Supporters see her as a strong voice on atrocity prevention and a ‘nod for the development community‘ while critics point at her neo-conservative tendency to elevate military action above diplomacy.