On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed Samantha Power to head the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in a vote of 68 to 26. Power is a hawkish veteran of the Obama administration who played a crucial role in the disastrous 2011 Libya intervention.
From her post on Obama’s National Security Council, Power pushed hard for the US to intervene in Libya under the guise of protecting human rights. She was joined in her campaign by then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Susan Rice, who served as the UN ambassador at the time. Rice now serves in the Biden administration as Director of the Domestic Policy Council.
Reports from 2011 say the pressure from Power, Clinton, and Rice is what ultimately pushed Obama to intervene militarily in Libya since his other top advisors were against it. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates would later say that Obama decided to bomb Libya in a “51 to 49” decision.
Needless to say, the US-NATO intervention in Libya that killed former Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi was a total disaster. While Power said it needed to be done for the sake of human rights, destabilizing the North African country has created a humanitarian catastrophe and even led to the creation of Libyan slave markets.
For her efforts to convince Obama to destroy Libya, Power was promoted to UN ambassador, where she served from 2013 to 2017. During that time, she pushed for more intervention in Syria and backed the Saudis at the UN while they bombed and starved civilians in Yemen.
Power will have a lot of influence on the Biden administration’s foreign policy from her new post at USAID. During confirmation hearings, Power said she would use the agency to combat Chinese influence and accused Beijing of using its “economic leverage” in a “predatory way.”
While it’s not a national security agency, USAID is often used to fund US regime change efforts. For example, in September 2019, USAID announced it would be providing $52 million to Juan Guaido, who the US recognizes as president of Venezuela, despite the fact that Nicolas Maduro holds the office. Earlier in 2019, the US backed Guaido in a failed coup attempt.