Today a very special guest joins Jeremi and Zachary in the studio. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Barack Obama’s second term shares her experience growing up as an immigrant in the United States, the evolution of her career, and her outlook on toolkits and morality in foreign intervention on behalf of the United States.
Zachary introduces the episode with his poem, “To the Rest of Humanity.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power is a leading voice internationally for principled American engagement in the world. One of TIME’s“100 Most Influential People,” she is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, war correspondent, and the Anna Lindh Professor of Practice at Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School. Her latest book, The Education of an Idealist, chronicles her years in public service and reflects on the role of human rights and humanitarian ideals in contemporary geopolitics.
- Samantha PowerAnna Lindh Professor of Practice at Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School, Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author
- Jeremi SuriProfessor of History at the University of Texas at Austin
Unknown Speaker 0:05
This is Democracy, a podcast that explores the interracial intergenerational and intersection of unheard voices living in the world’s most influential democracy.
Jeremi Suri 0:17
Welcome to our new episode of This is Democracy. We have a very special episode. This week. We always have extraordinarily interesting guests on but I think today we have one of the most interesting guests that I’ve had the opportunity to meet in many years. Ambassador Samantha Power. She was the US ambassador to the United Nations for President Obama. She was also a close member of President Obama’s national security team working on multilateral affairs as well as a national security affairs and human rights issues. And she was also part of President Obama’s campaign. She has been teaching for many years at Harvard, but she’s probably still most famous for her first book called The problem from hell, which too many of us scholars, activists and policy people really opened our eyes to issues of genocide and American negligent responses throughout our history really awakened many of us to these issues. She has now just published a new memoir that I had the fortune to finish reading last night, which is really about her life story, and a parable in some ways for American foreign policy and the changes in our international system through her experience as an immigrant, as an intellectual, as a policymaker, and as a teacher and as a mother. So it’s really wonderful to have you on Samantha I’m so pleased to be here. Thank you for being here. Before we turn to Ambassador Power. We have of course, our scene setting poem from Mr. Zachary Syria. Zachary, what’s the title of your poem to the
Zachary Suri 1:43
rest of humanity? Well, let’s hear it. I think I first wondered about diplomacy driving on a dirt road near Agra and cows bathing in the river. And I think I thought of it is that bouncing between the seat cushions and the T stands and do grass on the side of a highway. Knowing the ancient forest the other side of the ridge, in which water is safe to drink on plastic chairs clustered on the lawns of humidity. International feeling between the Japanese Toyota the American tea drinker and Uttar Pradesh afternoon breaking over the hills like sunrise. But at four o’clock when you still have to get to Jaipur before dark, speeding through the trees like you’re flying into Roger stone. And I think we are all like this at one point in our lives. The Hindu Jewish great great grandson of immigrants sinking into endless metropolises and Taj Mahal is like the solid wonderment of adolescence finding meaning, and I can’t tell but sometimes I feel like so the MC nine Midnight’s Children, like I can feel my generation of humanity, like the type face of my life. And sometimes I’m not sure if it’s Comic Sans or Times New Roman, but we are drawn to each other as if by candlelight. And often I wonder if we are like every other generation, the last ones and heroes, the saintly ones and the ones tearing through decency with giant shears. And I bet we all want to find some token of goodwill in the middle of the night, the dumpsters behind High School, to hand over two birds or to the wind, knowing we can find someone like us.
Jeremi Suri 3:06
What is your poem about Sacra?
Zachary Suri 3:07
Well, my poem was really about human connections and how particularly as Americans, and people who come from all over the world, we, we feel like the world is very small, like we know so many different cultures. But at the same time, we often get caught up in our daily lives, and what’s going on in our own bubble and leaf, we forget the connections that we have to other people and other people suffering.
Jeremi Suri 3:29
Do you agree, Samantha,
Samantha Power 3:30
that we forget? I think, first of all, Zach, it’s a beautiful poem. And it’s an amazing way, I think, to remind people, that humanity that sometime sometimes get lost when we talk about big geopolitical and strategic issues. And so to bring it back down to earth, to a single individual, encountering multiple cultures, it’s exactly the right way to do it. I mean, I think certainly, you know, when people feel fear, and dislocation as is occurring more and more in different parts of the world, it’s harder to feel that that shared humanity, I remember when I was that maybe a little bit older than your son, somebody pointed out that all of us have kind of different circles of identity. So now I have the identity, as you noted, as a mother, as you and I are both professors, both Americans, I’m an immigrant, you know, have all these two, I’m a Red Sox fan. We’ve all these
Jeremi Suri 4:30
blue, it’s okay.
Samantha Power 4:32
You don’t know what has to gloat, we’re done. We’re toast. But but but at times of tumbled or scarcity, your your circles of identity can shrink to just one. And you can be only American or only a democrat or only a republican or only a Catholic, in my case. And and that’s, I think, what’s happening in a lot of different parts of the world,
Jeremi Suri 4:59
and how to Did you come to these issues? You talk about this a lot in your memoir, but I guess the question I came away from was what, what drove you internally to these issues?
Samantha Power 5:09
Well, I don’t think that any of us really know what I think it’s a swirl of factors, I tried to play it straight. And just say, kind of, in a way here, here’s my story, here’s what happened. Here’s how it unfolded. So you know, here, here are the circumstances that I lived with in Ireland when I was a child with a father who was incredibly loving, but also an alcoholic. And, and so I described, I think people hadn’t really expected that they were going to go with me and my memoir back to a Dublin pub. But that’s a very moving
Jeremi Suri 5:41
part of them. Thank you, thank you.
Samantha Power 5:44
But to start there, and then I came to America, and of course, that all of the delight that a child would have in encountering, you know, the biggest of everything that I’d ever seen in my life, and I came from this tiny country of Ireland, and hadn’t traveled much as a kid. So it was really the exposure, we’re incredible. And I mastered the new lingo in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And for me, sports became my calling card, a way of fitting in, and I became the master of baseball statistics. But I completely date myself, because I moved to America in 1979, when the pirates won the World Series in Pittsburgh. And I know, even to this day, I have I know, basically no baseball history prior to 1979. And but then, and then I have, like, a lot of people, I have this sort of 1520 year period where Try me. And then it tapers off a little bit when I’m in government. But But anyway, but that the you know, that trying to fit in seeing America, both as an insider and somebody who fully embraced this new experience and the opportunities that are so unique, I think, still even unique to this country. At the same time, being able to see America a little bit from the outside, you know, still having such close family connections abroad, going back every summer, having my cousins and other family members giving me grief about whatever the you know, a particular American President might have been doing at a given time. And also probably seen the world a little bit through the eyes of a small country. And and, you know, of just the idea of Biden used to say this, Joe Biden, when I work with him at the White House, you know, that his mother had told him to, you know, you’re better than no one Joe and no one’s better than you. And so on the one hand to believe that America has some amazing Lee, distinctive features, and I know that from having traveled the world having lived abroad, but then also to know that within every country are individuals who have so many of the same aspirations and may find themselves blocked. And then that raises questions, of course, about what America’s responsibility is to itself and what it is also to the world. Sure,
Jeremi Suri 7:47
sure. And and as you know, better than anyone I mean, there are a lot of tension surrounding discussions of human rights. One of them will talk about a few of these tensions. One of them is the tension between the urge to connect Zachary discuss with humanity and as you’ve discussed so eloquently, but also the the warning against condescension. And you’ve been, I think, remarkably skillful at avoiding that latter problem. How have you done that? How have you connected with other societies without without bringing a White Man’s Burden to them? Yeah,
Samantha Power 8:16
well, it’s it’s I haven’t actually heard the question frame that way before or even thought about it in those terms, but the parallel of that, of, of, I think it’s both condescension and or some kind of potential superiority complex, you know, that we are, I mean, some even put it in Divine terms, you know, that we have some unique insight into God’s will, or into natural law or into what other people in other countries seek for themselves. And I do think it’s a very perilous piece of business when you start thinking that way. On the other hand, I think, you know, it sounds a bit cheesy, I suppose. And, and a bit, sort of form ballistic, but we do have these international instruments, they were imperfect from the very start, just as our own national instruments were imperfect in terms of who was at the table. But there, if you look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it’s pretty good synopsis of if you I think, just from traveling the world a fair amount, just if you talk to people what their aspirations are, you know, if it if it merely had the right to due process, or to be free of torture, and didn’t have the whole kind of Corpus on health care and education and, and clean water or, you know, the decent standard of living, you know, and all of these have been flushed out over time. But I think there’s a safe harbor in those international instruments, in part because they’re no one’s perfect, right, national approximation of national rights and sensibilities. And so I think that’s, that’s a safe bet. And then just, I think, by journalists background, because I be as I tell them, the book, I became a journalist in my early 20s, it is still a very formative age, I hope I’m still at a formative age, I’m not sure but but uh, but as a journalist, just getting in that habit of being a bit suspicious of officialdom, and just wanting to get out and about and to, to understand or to hear from people firsthand kind of how things are affecting them and what those aspirations are, and not not assuming too much from far away. But that again, I don’t want to pretend that you have some Gallup polling, I hope not, you know, sort of thing in your head where you can go and do a PR, and sort of ascertain in some, in some really tight way, you know, people’s aspirations as it’s such a general concept, but it but at least that curiosity, and then and then just the more time you spend abroad, I think just to see that nobody wants to be dealing with corrupt officials, everybody wants to be able to get rid of officials who aren’t delivering, you know, social and economically or, you know, again, corruption, free governance in their neighborhoods. Nobody wants to be taught everybody again, wants to be able to hold accountable those who would commit those kinds of crimes. So there is that, you know, what once experience in the world tends to graft on to the principles that were insurance at, you know, at the time of the UN’s founding,
Jeremi Suri 11:11
but I think you’re very honest about your belief that there are certain universalism, so you know, one being the prevention of genocide among many others. At the same time, what I really admire in your work is you also are front and center honest as you were a few minutes ago about also believing in American exceptionalism and and the Declaration of Human Rights does grow out of the New Deal. It’s a new deal document, Eleanor Roosevelt, a key person behind it. So it’s interesting how one has to balance the universal isms with with being and an American exceptionalism. Right? Well,
Samantha Power 11:39
you know, she had a hell of a time, it may have been her sort of aspirational document, and certainly would have been FD ours, it aligns, I think, with both dimensions of his agenda, civil and political and social, economic, but politically and culturally, you know, we’re not there. We don’t we don’t we don’t have our supreme court, weighing in on the Bill of Rights in a manner that, you know, renderers social economic rights justiciable, in the way that we do the other half of the Universal Declaration. So, you know, for many, she was proving herself a socialist, you know, and, and a radical and with, you know, McCarthy was not that long thereafter, in those days to put forward such a, an ambitious social and economic agenda, alongside the more traditional American precepts was, was pretty, pretty courageous. Absolutely.
Jeremi Suri 12:29
So one of the other tensions I wanted us to explore is the tension between human rights activism and policymaking. And you’re one of the very few people who’s had the good fortune to be a major human rights activist and an influential policymaker, how you were able to do that, as explained very well. In your memoir, I’m not going to give that away. People have to read the book to understand how
Samantha Power 12:48
smart I think I’m giving too much away in this interview. Because
you’re you’re you always want more of read the book and
Jeremi Suri 12:56
exactly which I think actually one of the many strengths of your memoir is you tell that story in compelling ways. And it has something to do with a man named Barack Obama, but they can they can read the memoir for that. But how did you manage this tension between these very clear, persuasive, compelling human rights aspirations that you embody in your work and your journalism in your writing? And the realities of making policy in a world that’s much Messier with United States has many other commitments, and many reasons for restraint, even when it knows the right thing to do?
Samantha Power 13:30
Well, I guess, I’d say a couple of things. I mean, first, because I had written a book a problem from hell, where I’d interviewed hundreds of US officials about their own experience, it’s not as though I went into the US government expecting me as the Presidents human rights advisor to be the most welcome person in every meeting, you know, I, I had a pretty good sense of how much gravity was cutting in different directions. And that’s what had drawn me to Barack Obama, Barack Obama, to me, and that he interested in seeing structurally if there were things we could do to create a more fulsome and comprehensive discussion of the range of interests and values that that should be in can be at the heart of our politics and our policy. So it wasn’t some rude awakening in that dimension. I think then, though, the, of course, the battles, some of which I detail in the book, you know, for example, whether to recognize the Armenian Genocide, which is something President Obama had, as a senator and as a presidential candidate committed to doing or the case of Syria, which is the most egregious and brutal set of crimes that that happened, while we were in office, you know, being in a situation where you’re advocating a set of measures maybe to push the envelope a little bit and, and but doing so, in the wake of the war in Iraq, the invasion of Iraq, and at a time of tremendous domestic fatigue with and concern CERN that any even small measures would lead, at some point to American entanglement. I mean, again, none of this came as a surprise, I think the way that I carried myself in government, and I hope I continue to carry myself now that I’m out is, is relatively consistent, I mean, to have the same aspirations to look to see what the right tools are, to pursue those aspirations to take into account. Other interests. I’m an American, first, I’m an American citizen, I’m serving at the pleasure of the President. And so you know, the only sort of major difference, I suppose, between me and people who come at some of these questions with a different perspective is that I think over time, advancing promoting the cause of political reform and economic reform, fighting corruption, promoting human rights, creates more stability in the world, not doing so as was the policy, the United States for decades in the Middle East, doesn’t change the aspirations of people in those societies, they still want the same thing, you know, they want to be able to their families and have a better future for their kids and grandkids than the one that they had growing up. And so all that ends up happening is like the Isaiah Berlin, you know, in the context of nationalism, it’s sort of a, you know, if you if you bend, and if there’s no given a society and no accountability, you end up getting not evolution, but but revolution. And so, you know, my view is that as a strategic matter, there’s there’s actually, at least in the Obama administration, there was something of a consensus that it was in our long term interest to promote human rights and to advance political reform. But when push came to shove, if you’re a general and you’re interested in securing instant counterterrorism cooperation, like that longer term interest in reality, you know, doesn’t count for as much as can we get that unit deployed to Mosul tomorrow to give us what we need. And I just continue to make the case because I think too often we privilege the short term, and then we end up in it with the precise of the situation we had in Iraq, where we were so reticent about pushing the cause of political reform with Prime Minister Maliki, that we ended up having a situation that where the sectarianism got so intense, that having vanquished al Qaeda having orchestrated a surge and cooperated with a Sunni awakening, and really putting iraq on a better footing than it had been in, of course, in the immediate aftermath of the invasion, and giving Iraqis a chance to have their own democratic election, the human rights abuses carried out by the government ended up driving so many people in Iraq into extremist positions that they hadn’t taken before and indeed ended up, you know, constituting the backbone for ISIS. So what can seem like, it’s kind of good for our security in the short term. And again, there are dozens of examples like that not everything produces a long term security setback of that magnitude. But again, it’s always tempting to sort of put off that difficult conversation about internal practices, and yet internal practices so often, if they’re, if they’re abusive, you know, can be the incubator for things that end up coming back to haunt us and and the countries in question.
Jeremi Suri 18:05
And Isaiah Berlin is a great reference, because so much of what he argues right, is that we have to balance competing interests and competing goods or competing evils in some cases. I think what is striking, though, and this is this is actually a question out of praise, is to see your evolution because certainly your career as a journalist was very much about being somewhat Universalist, and somewhat strong in advocating for human rights above all else.
Samantha Power 18:31
I don’t think I mean, I think a problem from Hell is very consistent with the work that I didn’t government the sense that it’s about a toolbox, you know, it’s not a sort of one size fits all. Policymakers. I mean, the my lamenting in a problem from hell was was quite modest in the sense that it was, how is it that atrocities just don’t rise in the government to warrant their own senior discussion, and if they’d risen, you know, who knows what anybody would have decided that the highest level, I mean, in Bosnia, I thought the use of force was necessary, you know, with because every other tool in the toolbox had been tried. And I know, you know, being on the ground, I could see just the sort of limits of the capabilities of the of the perpetrator. And so again, I was too young, to have the opinions I did, I think, or two, probably in retrospect, as I and I tried to show this in the book. So I did in that instance. But I also think that that was born out, when the United States and NATO got involved, the war was brought to an end within a couple weeks with no casualties and so forth for the US. But it never deals with the structural forces, military force never deals with the structural forces that give rise to crimes of that magnitude in the first place. But I think my evolution is different than the one that you you describe, I think it’s much more about how to do it. It’s not I mean, my my, I never, I never thought that there was a categorical imperative to do this or that. The other thing other than have a meeting, open the toolbox, and then figure out from a consequentialist standpoint, which tool should be employed. But I think by by being working first as a journalist, then, you know, as an activist, then on a political campaign, where I learned a lot of things about what not to do, you know, in the senate office, in the executive branch, as a diplomat, I think what you learn is how to build coalitions inside government and with other countries, you know, how to speak to individuals from the vantage point of their equities and their and their interests. And so it’s much more about taking the same old vector from that I probably have had or been on from the very beginning, but operationalize it, you know, in complicated institutions, and how to work with Congress, especially in an era of polarization. You know, what is the right way to establish a partnership with the Chairman of the Joint Staff on peacekeeping, for example, like I might have always thought that peacekeeping should be improved. But to figure out how to make that argument effectively with the Pentagon, that was a different language for me.
Jeremi Suri 20:56
So the doppelganger for Samantha Power wouldn’t have great despised president who did the same things Obama did in Syria?
Samantha Power 21:04
Well, I get I get into that in the book. I mean, I would have said what I said in government, I didn’t there’s nothing I would have said outside that I didn’t say in the media, maybe my tone would have a little bit different, less respectful, because he wasn’t my boss. But no, I mean, I said, Look, when when people like john mccain, and the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, were calling for my resignation over Syria, D me me a hypocrite. I write in the book, you know, had I been on the outside, I probably would have thought the same of me. Like, how could I be in there? But that said, on the outside, I also wouldn’t have been able to know what is it happens it was me, but but what what some individual what their? What are they doing internally, you know, wouldn’t have known about the negotiations I was doing with the Russians to try to get political prisoners out of jail or to get humanitarian aid to parts of the country that were not being reached? nor would I have known from the outside. What, again, it happens to be me, but what an individual is arguing internally what they’re pushing the president to do. So you know, I don’t I don’t feel morally compromised. I feel heartbroken. Right.
Jeremi Suri 22:05
Right. And and I think I mean, having an evolving career is a strength. By
Samantha Power 22:08
the way, I haven’t evolved in career, I just think this idea that there’s like a caricature of who I am. I wish people would actually go back and not not to say that you haven’t, you probably assigned your courses and do go back and read it. But I think that there’s just a caricature of my younger self, which is, which is pretty it’s not it’s, it’s pretty true in general of how anybody who uses the word idealism, is likely to be pigeonholed. And so if I sound a little testy about it, you know, I just sort of feel like Geez, I did spend five years on that book talking about a very elaborate toolbox. And I did spend a decade thought, talking in consequentialist terms about what various tools, you know, could be applied in particular circumstances. And then I did go into government. And, you know, on Syria, it’s the obvious case in which you see the limit of the toolbox, because we used every tool toolbox short of military force. So you know, that, in that sense, a problem from hell kind of occupies a safer space, because it’s never really tested. You know, I can say to you, I didn’t advocate, the US military going into Rwanda, nor would I six months after Somalia, I in my, you know, when I look back on Rwanda, I look at Radio jamming, and denouncing and expelling the Rwandan ambassador to, you know, to the UN. But the truth is, as Syria shows, it may well be that you do everything short of the big thing. And it may mitigate at the margins, but but it may not end, you know, a grave human rights crisis of the magnitude of A Rwanda or a Syria. And so in that sense, some of those ideas, you know, inevitably because nothing was done in the face of genocide, or if anything, you know, the case of Rwanda, peacekeepers were pulled out. But the but the larger proposition goes on tested. Yes. And so the Obama illustration, in a way tests it, because we’re actually employing the tools and you see mitigation rather than salvation.
Jeremi Suri 24:04
That’s a very helpful way to think about it. Thank you, Zachary. You had a
Zachary Suri 24:06
Yeah. How do you think we get young people who who’ve grown up in the United States with this sort of idea of exceptionalism to care about other societies and international cooperation?
Samantha Power 24:17
Well, I think we start with a with an amazing Foundation, because we are a country of immigrants. And we have in our midst, people from so many different walks of life. Granted, this is now much more contested proposition that we’re a nation of immigrants. But you know, no matter what the rhetoric is out of politicians, or even how policies change day to day, you just look around, I mean, I write in the book about helping preside over a naturalization ceremony where our nanny who helped me raise my kids, but also was the sole reason I was able to do my job as UN ambassador. But she was becoming an American. And I looked out at the sea of faces, which were so diverse, and you know, the minute they sworn in, they were American, suddenly, I mean, they’ve been wonderful. I mean, it was just the most just that sense that their names were now American names, they’ve gone from being Costa Rican, or who’s back or, you know, Chinese, and suddenly they were American. And that instant, then I came back to the US mission to the UN. And I walk in and I look around, and it’s like the courthouse, it’s the same scene, it’s the same. It’s not a ceremony, but there it’s it’s either immigrants are descendants of immigrants. And so that’s one answer is I feel like especially your age group for us to take advantage of the encyclopedias and the culture and the richness, and then the connections to those other countries in our midst. But then also, you know, the point I was making earlier, about how our interests as a country are kind of connected to the fate of people abroad, it I don’t mean in some kind of, you know, touchy feely way that you can’t we all get along, and everything, everybody will be so happy here, if they’re happy there, you know, but just at, take climate change, you know, the way in which what China chooses to do with its coal plants, fundamentally is going to affect your generation. And even if we can get our act together here in the States, your generations ability to grow up in a world, you know, with the same bounty that that your dad grew up with, you know, the Human Rights example, where when, when governments are super repressive, and there are radicals around to try to exploit that, how terrorists, you know, can set up training camps and recruit people and how that can end up coming back to, to hurt us. I think we, we, in my generation, and the generations that came before, we should stop making the case, at a certain point, we just, we just part from in our classes, you know, we’re making the classes we walk students through the connection between the international order and, you know, American prosperity, or the ability to keep the sea lanes open and our ability to do trade. And that happens in the classroom, but in the public imagination, the idea that we’re not just connected kind of spiritual, because we have sort of one world, you know, Amnesty International candle on our fridge, but like we’re connected, practically and pragmatically. And so I think young people, there’s a reason that they don’t, that that’s not intuitive anymore. I don’t I don’t think that case has been made. And now look at the Democratic primary debate and of course, as well in parallel the rhetoric of the Trump administration. And it’s no wonder, young people don’t don’t really know why it matters, because it’s not coming up. I mean, Trump is Trump is portraying, the world is kind of out to get us and dangerous and a world of carnage and people trying to rip us off. And then among some progressives, there’s a concern that when the United States leads, it’s at the expense of what we do domestically, or that it leads inevitably to war and to militarism. And so, you know, I think this question that you pose of how can young people be convinced that there’s a smart, humane, beneficial leadership role in the in the world for the United States? That does a lot more good than harm, you know, for your generation? I think I think that conversation isn’t happening near enough and and young people probably have to help us old fogies figure out what the right framing is, you know, those who those of you who are convinced, you know, what is what is the way to hit home climate change, seems to me a very good place to start, because young people are so rightly exercised about that.
Jeremi Suri 28:37
So, Samantha, we like to close every episode with a discussion about how this historical knowledge that you’ve shared with us so brilliantly, how that can be used for positive effect by especially young people listening, we really trying to show that history can be put into action. So what is your advice to our young listeners? What should they do assuming they care about these issues?
Samantha Power 28:58
Well, what I find among people, Zach’s question speaks to one dimension, which is, why does what happens over there matter here. So I find that in some, but honestly, in many, many more, I find also a different phenomenon, which is, I’m going to promote human rights, I’m going to grow up, and I’m going to promote human rights, like, that’s why I’m on the earth, I’m going to make the world better. And I guess my reaction to that seems to me their twin parallels, the first, I think is, is a reflection of an overly narrow conception of what’s good for Americans, or what’s good for young people. And the second is an overly broad conception of what any one person can, too. And so my main advice, I think, a lesson, at least from my own miniature history, but also I think, from history as a whole is, know something about something, that if you, if you try to fight, every battle, sometimes you fight, you fight, none, you know, you you, your ambition, can be so large, that can that your aspirations can be so easily thwarted, because how if you if you have the ambition of promoting human rights everywhere, nobody can achieve that. I mean, it’s inconceivable You mean, the present, United States could barely make a dent, in an agenda of that magnitude, given all the structural forces in the world. So slicing off, you know, one sliver of a problem. And so when I hear someone your age, say, I want to I want to become a human rights lawyer, I want to promote human rights, I’ll say who’s where, you know, here, I mean, maybe the homeless community, you know, in your in your city, those of refugees who are not now getting the welcome that they once had is that is that a slice of the human rights problem, you can help deal with maybe in your own community, or maybe there’s some specific conflict abroad where you want to, you know, ultimately put yourself in a position to learn the language to know the history of the place in order to be able to make a contribution. But I think that narrowing, which can seem like an accommodation with the status quo, but it’s not, it’s about, again, figuring out one’s own slice of making the world different.
Jeremi Suri 31:05
So being rooted in your larger ambitions in many ways,
Samantha Power 31:08
but slicing it down into into bite size, manageable portions, shrink the change. That’s great advice accurate. Does that make sense?
Jeremi Suri 31:16
What do you think? Do you think young people will be motivated by that?
Zachary Suri 31:18
Well, I definitely agree. And I think young people, in many ways in reaction to to what we see in the Trump administration, but just in the sphere of politics today, as well have become even more concerned about these issues, and more aware of them than they would be in a more complacent world where we didn’t have these threats to as many threats to human rights, or if it was something we didn’t talk about this much.
Jeremi Suri 31:44
Great. Great. Well, this has been a wonderful conversation. And I encourage all of our listeners to read Samantha power’s new book, it really is a very personal, but also very sophisticated exploration of these issues. very compelling reader, it actually in some parts reads like a novel, even though it’s about very serious policy issue. So congratulations. Thank
Samantha Power 32:03
you very much, Jeremy, thank
Jeremi Suri 32:04
you for being on with us. And thank you for your poem Zachary. And thank you for joining us for this is democracy.
Unknown Speaker 32:17
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Unknown Speaker 32:24
in this episode was written and recorded by Harrison Lemke and you can find his music at Harrison lemke.com.
Unknown Speaker 32:31
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai