Samantha Power, author, wrote the book on "America's toleration of unspeakable atrocities." So it was poignant this week to hear Samantha Power, ambassador-designate to the United Nations, hewing, with regard to U.S. policy in Syria, to the toleration playbook she had described with such clarity in her book " 'A Problem from Hell': America and the Age of Genocide."
To be clear: We think the Senate should promptly confirm Ms. Power as U.N. ambassador. She has been a powerful voice for human rights, and she will be an effective advocate of U.S. interests, as President Obama defines them. She is not responsible for the passivity he has chosen in the face of what Ms. Power called, during her confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "the grotesque atrocities being carried out by the Assad regime."
In her study of past atrocities, Ms. Power asked: "Why does the United States stand so idly by?" Governments often claim, falsely, not to know what is happening, she wrote. They also pretend to have little influence, when even "small or belated steps" could save hundreds of thousands of lives. The complexities that Mr. Obama cites as unique reasons not to intervene in Syria are present in most cases, Ms. Power showed: The opposition is imperfect; the options for action, even more so. Battlefield reporting is murky.