The celebrated diplomat Samantha Power rose to prominence as a journalist and writer who condemned global inaction in the face of large-scale atrocities. Her 2002 book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, castigated the international community—particularly the United States—for failing to stop horrific acts, including the Rwandan genocide, earning her a Pulitzer Prize and considerable notoriety.
When she was confirmed in 2013 as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Power defended the foreign policy principle known as “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), arguing that it is “incumbent on us to look” for ways to help civilians slaughtered by their own governments. The R2P doctrine, formally embraced by the United Nations in 2005 as the duty of the international community to halt genocide, was supposed to be the bedrock of Power’s tenure under the Obama administration.
But now, Power again finds herself at the center of the global community’s complicity in brutal attacks against a civilian population committed by a U.S. ally. The key perpetrator is Saudi Arabia, which is waging a 16-months-and-counting military assault on Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East.