Reporter: You are taking us into new frontiers of Twitter diplomacy and being handed this enormous challenge of having to deal with an ongoing crisis in Syria that really hits at the work that you’ve done in your career in so many different ways. As a journalist and as an advocate you’re looking at the problems of how the U.S. government and how the international community deals with an ongoing crisis, especially one that impacts the civilian population in the middle of a war. You’ve taken to Twitter and used that as a public platform for expressing moral outrage in a way that we’re not necessarily always used to in our diplomats for making policy statements. But at the same time, we all know this is a terrible crisis that we haven’t cracked the code on. And I thought I’d start with a tweet that you released a couple weeks ago in early November, “The U.S. view on Assad is unchanged. He’s a man who gasses his people, scuds his people, terrorizes his people. Doesn’t deserve to govern his people.” That’s a lot for a hundred and forty characters.
Ambassador Power: Took work! You should have seen the first version! [Laughs]
Reporter: Who says it’s not a form of writing, right? [Laughs]
Ambassador Power: Yes. [Laughs]
Reporter: So, many people you know have looked at the U.S. position on Syria as it’s evolved over the last couple of months. Making progress on chemical weapons, but not necessarily making progress beyond that when it comes to the plight of women and children; when it comes to putting human rights in the same position that we’ve now elevated weapons of mass destruction in effect in Syria. Is it still our policy to end the Assad regime?
Ambassador Power: Well, as my tweet suggests, and as the last two and a half years suggest, the problem with this form of behavior is that it’s predictive. I mean, you don’t wake up one day having Scud your people and gassed your people and suddenly become a kinder, gentler leader. So, I think our assessment, which is widely shared, is that this is a leader who both intrinsically has lost his legitimacy and his right and entitlement to govern, but also has lost the support of so many people that you’d never see the stability that you would need in Syria with him at the helm. So Geneva, which, of course, has proven very hard to get off the ground, the Geneva talks, is rooted in this idea of the two sides coming together, the regime and the opposition around a transitional governing body that’s agreed upon by consent. The Russians have signed on to that, we’ve signed on to that, and we need the Syrian regime to sign on to it, obviously, by mutual consent. Also, the opposition would never agree to a transitional governing body that would retain Assad at the helm, again, in light of past behavior.
Reporter: But in effect, you know, we’re still saying, we’re looking for a date for the resumption of those Geneva talks, and the facts on the ground are, you know, effecting our policy too, and I think there’s really a sense, as is pointed out over the last couple of months that Assad has bought more time for his government, and that even the unintended consequence of the United States and Russia coming together to make progress on getting him to give up his chemical weapons may have also had the effect of bolstering his government and his regime. Do you worry about that?
Ambassador Power: Well, I worry about everything Syria related because as you said at the beginning, it is the most heartbreaking circumstance confronting us today. The UN has just released a new estimate that says that 9.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance for this coming year. The two UN appeals total $4.4 billion, just to try to keep these people fed, and those are the people that you can reach. There are two and a half million people in the country that the UN hasn’t even been able to get to; the ICRC and others have no knowledge of. So, this is such a priority for all of us. I wish there was some door number two that we could walk through that would—I mean, as I said in fact the day of the chemical weapons bill, the day of the Security Council resolution, I quoted the Secretary General saying “a red light for one weapon must not become a green light for others.” And you’re right. I mean, he uses other weapons with abandon.
I think, however, it’s misleading to suggest, wrong to suggest, as some have, that somehow taking his chemical weapons away is a good thing for Assad. This was a weapon he was using for tactical military advantage as well as to slaughter people. And this is not—he did not want to give up his chemical weapons, believe me. And it was only, again, I think, the President putting the threat of military force credibly on the table in that way that caused him to succumb to the international pressure. So I think one can have two views at the same time. It is a very good thing for the world and a good thing for the Syrian people that Assad’s chemical weapons are being taken away. By the same token, none of us can be satisfied with where we are on how he is using other weapons, or the state of the peace process, which we have to galvanize.
Reporter: One of the critiques, which I know you’re familiar with, of President Obama’s foreign policy is that he has, in effect, set out pretty sharp lines about what is in U.S. national interests in a situation like this. Many people read his September speech to the United Nations as saying that in effect the use of chemical weapons, the use of weapons of mass destruction was a U.S. national interest to prevent in Syria, suggesting as our friend [Inaudible] here wrote that there was sort of a B List of American interests in Syria and that perhaps human rights, taking care of the civilian population, didn’t make the first rank of U.S. concern. How do you respond to that? Do you think that human rights does play a role as a key national interest of foreign policy?
Ambassador Power: Absolutely, and I think the President’s policies reflect his view as well that the United States, when we set out in the world, pursue interests and values, view the promotion of our values as a national interest, insofar as more democracies over time means more stability. Also, you know, creates opportunities economically and so forth. I mean, we’ve seen it time and again. I can speak to this even from my new position, in that countries like East Timor, Kosovo, that lived in repressive circumstances, Libya, even, despite the challenges that they faced today, Tunisia—they’re much more reliable allies now within the UN system in dealing with national security and democracy and human rights challenges in other parts of the world.
So I think the President, as somebody who knows history and knows what it means to people around the world when you stand up for human rights and democracy, is deeply committed to that agenda. You know, there are challenges that face us where there are other interests at play as well. I mean, in the broader Middle East, the fate of oil prices really matters to the American people in tough economic times. So, I think none of us would pretend that we are a single-issue administration, but I think there’s a recognition that the democracy and human rights agenda, when we are successful, working with other countries, preferably by means of evolution and not the kind of cataclysms that we’ve seen through revolution and violence where regimes crack down on democratic movements, ultimately that is the root to advancing those core interests related to the day-to-day welfare of the American people.
Reporter: So, the United Nations, where you’re posted now, a few years ago came up with the idea and endorsed the consensus that there is a responsibility to protect on the part of the international community. That, in a situation like we have in Syria and unfolding in several other parts of the world right now, this would be a justification in effect for going into a sovereign country if there was an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe; if there was a genocide as you have written about. Is there a responsibility to protect, putting aside the question of the chemical weapons in Syria with 100,000 people dead? Is there a responsibility to protect? Isn’t it time to invoke that doctrine when it comes to—
Ambassador Power: Obama has made clear, and actually as you know, the UN has embraced, the broader membership of the UN has embraced, is the idea that in the face of mass atrocities, you have a responsibility to open your toolbox and look at every tool in the toolbox, and scrutinize and assess whether or not the benefits of employing this tool outweigh the costs. In the case of Syria, if that’s what you were asking, again, President Obama has put in play every single tool in the toolbox short of military intervention, short of invading Syria. And I think reasonable people, as we saw even in the face of proposing limited military action in the wake of chemical weapons use, reasonable people have agreed and disagreed about whether invading Syria is a good idea for the United States and for the broader region at this time.
But, I would be careful about suggesting somehow that, you know, that we have not been taking the atrocity seriously. I think this is something that the President gets briefed on every day. He is always asking to see what more can we do to protect civilians in harm’s way. And so, I think we take that responsibility that you describe extremely seriously. It just has been insufficient, and people are—you know, the regime has not been yet responsive to some of the economic isolation, the presence—the flood of humanitarian assistance spending—nearly $1.5 billion on trying to keep people fed—bringing the international community together around a political process. You name it. I mean, these are the kinds of measures where, if you look back at the 20th Century, often even those measures and judicial accountability and other things were not put in play in real time when atrocities were underway. So again, we have put an awful lot in play for the Syrian people, it is not yet sufficient to bring about the outcome we seek.
Reporter: So I want to turn to sort of the broader human rights issues we were talking about earlier today when it concerns women and girls. But, just quickly, you started your professional career writing about the previous generation catastrophes that challenged U.S. policy makers in Rwanda and the Balkans. Everyone here is familiar with the phrase, “A Problem from Hell,” which clearly you have encountered now both as a journalist and as a policymaker. Are there—do you have a new appreciation for the limitations of what you can do with the tools in those toolkits, now, sitting on the other side of the fence? It’s easy as I know in being a journalist, to criticize, but are there things now that you understand that the Clinton Administration couldn’t do that perhaps at the time you thought that they could do?
Ambassador Power: Well, again, what I tried to do in my past writing is talk with people who are making policy choices. And, you know, at no point, I think, did I pretend that it was easy, in part because I was hearing their experience, and all the domestic political constraints; you know, the constraints around the moral imagination—even imagining what’s happening to people. You know sometimes it takes time to convince others within your own government. So I tried to even, in my past work, not bang the drum and say “thou shalt do this or that” but really try to situate people, you know, inside a system.
So I did, when I first got to the White House in 2009, I did, when I would walk into policy meetings, I would feel “intruder alert, intruder alert,” because I felt like I was suddenly in those meetings and that was an adjustment for me. But, you know, it’s much as you would expect: the constraints are very real, and there are particular real and tough budget times, now, which, again, you know, are ones we haven’t faced to this extent; and the kind of standoff in, sometimes, in our political system is a dimension I think that’s additionally challenging. But, again, I—you know—I always had sympathy and respect for people who put themselves, you know, into positions of responsibility. Now I have maybe a little more sympathy. But also just feel the privilege now of being the person—I mean, when I wrote “A Problem from Hell,” I was trying influence someone in my current job. And so now it’s an amazing responsibility, for sure, but, I mean I just feel blessed every day to have the chance to bring these issues to the fore.
And to your question about, implicitly sort of, what good can we do? On the question of preventing atrocities, we’ve done tremendous good just in the last few years. I mean, whether it’s, you know, helping birth the new country of South Sudan by recognizing that that moment of rupture was an atrocity moment, if it didn’t go well, to, you know, Libya. For all of the challenges today, ultimately, I mean, you can’t talk to a Libyan today who doesn’t think that it was the right thing to get rid of Muammar Qaddafi and give them the chance to work through these, again, horrific challenges that they’re facing at the present.
You know, Ivory Coast, LRA—the defections of people in the LRA are way up, the atrocities are way down. I mean, so we have to look, you know, at the whole field. Burma, I had the privilege of travelling with President Obama to Burma on his trip there. And to see a country that was so recently ruled by a junta and Aung San Suu Kyi imprisoned in her own home, and now she’s in the Parliament, you know, playing politics and, you know, standing up for people, and in the muck of it all, could be the next leader of the country. And things are changing, and the United States, I think, has played a really important role in this period in standing up against atrocities and for democracy and human rights.
Reporter: So you formed the new Atrocities Prevention Board when you were working on that as a staffer in the White House. How does that come into play in places like Syria? We talk about a crisis that’s gotten almost no attention here in Washington, in Central African Republic, which is playing out right now, which has the possibility, looking at large scale atrocities? How is that going to make a difference? Is it the kind of thing where having a US policy in place, having an infrastructure that didn’t exist before, makes some concrete difference on the ground?
Ambassador Power: Well, people have asked questions, a lot of questions, about this internal, bureaucratic structure, and I happen to be eternally fascinated with bureaucracy and how it works and how one gets it to move, from my past life. But I would view the creation of—the President’s creation of—that board, as a symptom of his larger commitment, again, to exploring every tool in the toolbox, to see are there new tools we can bring to bear? You recall he introduced also, a year or two ago, these sanctions on people who are using new technologies to commit atrocities. We’ve now got a Rewards for Justice program that has us providing rewards to those who provide tips on how to arrest a Joseph Kony or people who’ve been indicted by the ICC. So that’s one, you know—the President’s always saying, you know, what other things can we bring to bear to try to alleviate suffering in this area? And the board itself is orientated around those cases, like the Central African Republic, that history shows would not necessarily rise within a bureaucracy on their own, because it’s not a place that the United States—right now, we don’t even have a presence, because our embassy had to close in the face of the violence.
And for those of you who don’t know, this is something I would just bring to your attention. It is a horrific situation unfolding in a country that in the best of times is not very well developed and has suffered from violence and coups over the years, the Central African Republic. But you now have a situation where its taking on a religious dimension—Christian-Muslim violence unfolding—and really some of the most unseen atrocities I think of our time are happening there. We’re trying to get an African Union force in there as quickly as possible and to sound the alarm in venues like this one.
But I think the reason that the President put in place that structure was this recognition that sometimes things can fall through the cracks in the bureaucracy. Like in Rwanda, one of the things President Clinton talks about is that in the hundred days of the genocide, there was not a single Principals’ Committee meeting. Syria doesn’t suffer from a lack of meetings—we meet on it every day, the President’s getting briefed on it every day—so again, it’s oriented more to ensure that where modest interventions of, and shows of leadership by, the United States and rallying other countries or pushing at the UN for something—that that will never fall through the cracks, I think, with this mechanism in place, because there’s a way to go directly to the President. There’s also a dissent channel now created in most of the agencies for Americans who are out in the field, or NGOs; in fact, there’s a place for gathering information from NGOs if they want to sound the alarm. And again we can’t promise that we’re going to have, you know, a perfect solution to these crises, but it will get it at least the government’s attention in real time.
Reporter: Yeah, well that’s one of the challenges. Having a better process doesn’t necessarily stop an atrocity or change the outcome—
Ambassador Power: We’re not going to change human nature overnight either, but we, you know, we’re doing our best.
Reporter: Ok, so in your new challenge you have to take on the sort of wily diplomats of the Security Council, that’s in your portfolio. You’re here this week lobbying Congress on the disabilities treaty, which is a challenge as well. You’ll recall that this is a Congress which turned down this after major lobbying effort just a year ago. Which is tougher? Which do you think…Congress or the UN?
Ambassador Power: I’m optimistic about…I’ve had a number of meetings with Republican senators on this disability treaty. This is a treaty that, if we joined it, would give us an opportunity to extend rights for persons with disabilities internationally. And this of course matters not only for those who are living with disabilities abroad—who are stigmatized and don’t have any of the accommodations that Americans have—but also matters for our wounded warriors who come home, at, you know, age 22, now. So many of our soldiers are surviving injuries that would have taken their lives, you know, back in previous wars, a generation or two ago. But in a way, because we have the gold standard of disability rights here, they are forced into a situation—we almost see their horizon bounded by the nation’s borders. You know, if the ADA and the protections afforded to persons here were extended internationally, then these disabled vets or other Americans with disabilities would have, again, the same horizon, unlimited horizon, that their able-bodied American counterparts would have. So there’s a real core interest here for our people.
We did go down last year unsuccessfully, despite the tireless efforts of Senator Bob Dole, who’s 90 years old, and who’s literally—I saw him last week—making phone calls, sending these missives, these emails to his former colleagues. It’s clearly a legislative fight that he’s all in, in a way that he used to be. And, so, I think we’re making progress. Last year it was a bit rushed. This year, some of the concerns that people have raised about sovereignty and so forth, I think we’re finding ways to address. So I’m hopeful—this would be a major advance for the United States. And it sent a very strange signal last year when we rejected the disabilities convention, because I think unwittingly—I don’t think this was the intent of those who didn’t want to move forward with it—but it was a signal internationally that I think we wouldn’t seek to send, about how we value, again, the rights of persons with disabilities; we want to make these rights universal.
So in that sense, I think, the Congress—you know, we’re hopeful on that. In terms of New York, you know, it’s a mixed picture. I mean, there’s a, there are—I will say I had a dinner, my first dinner in New York, taking advantage of this amazing job—and I had all the—Madeline Albright had said to me that she created when she was in the job something called the G7, which I’m like G7? Okay G8—
Reporter: Lot of those acronyms—
Ambassador Power: It was the seven women permanent representatives. And so she said, “You gotta do that.” And so I was really curious, since Madeline was in the job and she’s been like a big sister to me since I was named to this position, she’s given me all kinds of wonderful advice, and I thought, “I wonder what the delta is?” like what a measure of where we are in the world? Anways, it’s now 30 [Applause]. So I had a dinner for the G30—
Reporter: For the G30?
Ambassador Power: Yeah. And you know it was really interesting, the whole discussion, was it on women’s rights, disabilities? It was on Syria. But it is clear that, you know that there are issues we, even as a little G30, can take on—with a critical mass, you can get a lot done in the system. But there’s a lot of chatter, too.
Reporter: So, this is a series called “Women Rule” so that’s a great transition to—I do have to ask you—President Obama’s White House was always seen, despite the prominent appointments of Hillary Clinton and now Susan Rice as National Security Advisor, as a pretty macho atmosphere. Was that your experience? I mean, there aren’t really as many women represented in particular in foreign policy and national security positions more broadly, not just in the White House. How do you—do you think progress is being made on that front? And what was your experience of the culture of this kind of decision making?
Ambassador Power: I think not as portrayed, certainly. I mean, you know, I was, as a staffer, as the President’s advisor on the UN and human rights issues for the first four years, going to Principals’ Committee meetings and there was Janet Napolitano and Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton and, you know, Wendy Sherman and Maria Otero, who I think is here, you know, over at the State Department in Under Secretary of State roles—I mean, you know, it didn’t feel that way. There was—you know, you had the challenge always of sort of, whatever policy dilemmas are before you, but I didn’t filter it through, “Oh goodness, you know, this is a very macho environment.” Quite the contrary, it was, you know, who are you going to align with on particular issues in order to drive a particular agenda. So I think that’s been pretty overstated.
And now, if you look at Secretary Kerry and the appointments that he has made over at the State Department—I mean, it’s uncanny. At the General Assembly, I was in probably four or five bilats with him where it was him and then all women, you know, on the other side in terms of the Assistant Secretary of States. And you are just going to see that more and more as some of these appointment—as people get confirmed and so forth. But I actually think if you look now at the mid- and high-level appointments at the State Department and combine it with the cabinet appointments, you’ll see an unprecedented show of, you know, girl power.
Reporter: So, not only are you the youngest person I think ever to have the job of U.S. Ambassador to the UN, but you have two young children.
Ambassador Power: Yeah.
Reporter: And you have not been shy—I think you made a joke the other day that, you know, having a one-year old and Syria crisis at the same time don’t mix very well.
Ambassador Power: Yeah, the whole nursing—because I was nursing until, like my daughter was, like, sixteen months—and the whole—again, it’s not a good visual—but nursing while—like with the two blackberries and the like, you know—no—. (Laughter)
Reporter: Well, but in many ways you’re sort of the—
Ambassador Power: —do not repeat! Do not repeat at home! Do not— (Laughter)
Reporter: Well, there’s a great Annie Leibovitz picture of you–
Ambassador Power: Ah yes. He looks so sad though—with, me holding my little boy, my four year old. He looks—he looks like, “Life was good before she came here”—
Reporter: I know—
Ambassador Power: He has that wishful look. I think Annie captured this moment—
Reporter: Yeah, I was thinking you should hide that from him for a while, that picture. Don’t put it on the internet.
Ambassador Power: No, but it’s so great because it, again, with time, you know—I mean, most of us with the phones and everything, one finds a lot of time to take photos now. But the schedule, particularly with trying to negotiate the Syria Chemical Weapons Resolution, I felt like I was just getting settled in the job, as you mentioned, so I felt a drop off in the terms of the amount of time I could spend with him, because I’d been off in between the two jobs. And so when she came and took the photo, I was like, “Yes I am going to have a photo from this month. And it is taken by Annie Liebowitz! That’s so cool!” So, yes.
Reporter: In many ways, you’re sort of the poster child there for the lean in moment, but Anne-Marie Slaughter was your professor—
Ambassador Power: Yes—
Reporter: Then your colleague, your friend. And she’s had a very different take about the challenges that really…while any individual women might be able to do a heroic job of juggling a big job and having two children, that there is serious structural impediments still in place. I am just wondering, quickly, where you fall down on this—
Ambassador Power: Fall down is what I do (Laughter).
Reporter: (Laughter) –ever-raging argument—
Ambassador Power: Fall down often. (Laughter)
Ambassador Power: I mean, I am, again, I both get to have the job of my dreams and I have the life of my dreams. I married late and had two kids late, and I just feel, every day, you know, that I have this bounty. And I have help. And so, you know, we had met here in Washington a wonderful nanny for our children, and we brought her with us. She was willing to come to New York with us. I mean, it makes all the difference.
So I don’t pretend–I mean, it is completely graceless, the way I am doing it—and I don’t pretend that people who don’t have the support that I have with her and my parents live in New York as well, so I am able to draw on them—I don’t know how they do it. I just do not know how they do it. And it doesn’t matter if you’re Ambassador to the United Nations or, if, you know, you’re a school teacher. Look at all the women who go off to war for our country, increasingly, and leave their children behind. I mean, the sacrifices are unbelievable. So, I don’t, I don’t focus so much on where I fall on the debate, I focus on getting through the day and, you know, making sure I, you know, get to read my kids their stories when they go to sleep, while not screwing up the negotiation the next day. That’s where I fall on a good day, basically.
Reporter: So, I want to turn this for one second to my colleague, John Allen, our White House reporter, who has a quick question. And then we can go back.
Allen: Sure. Hopefully, hopefully you’re not reading Goodnight Moon to the Syrians— (Laughter)
Reporter: That might help actually, right?
Allen: And I am glad you acknowledge that difficulty, as I have two small children as well. And it’s better than pretending than it’s easy to juggle everything.
I wanted to ask you—you mentioned the G30 group and we see the increasing number of women in the Senate—up to 20 now—having an effect on issues like sexual assault and military. The earlier panel today was talking about human trafficking. And it’s an issue that I think a lot of people don’t want to deal with—particularly men—don’t want to talk about. And that whole range of violence against women is something that I think doesn’t get a lot of attention. And I am wondering your experience as a human rights advocate more broadly than that, what you’ve learned about how to take an issue that’s sort of in the shadows and elevate it and get people to pay attention to it who might be sympathetic but aren’t listening? How you would apply that for these particular issues of violence against women?
Ambassador Power: Well, I’d say a few things. I mean, first–the way, the life blood of government—I guess, the two ways to make change in government are to change the DNA of the institutions and then to have top-down leadership of a very impatient kind. And President Obama, I mean this gets to all the questions of gender in the White House and all of that—I mean, on this set of issues, it’s personal for him, you know. And the emotion he brings to bear and the conviction he brings to bear, you know, that’s why we have a National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. It’s not just on the sexual violence side, it’s just a belief that if you don’t have women in the peace process and actually part of the solution, the peace processes themselves are going to be fragile, because it is not representing the people who know what’s going on in a committee, and who are looking out for the welfare of their people.
You know, on sexual violence—in fact, I just met with him yesterday and we were talking about the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and, you know, where there is now—the UN uses the phrase “sexual terrorism” to describe what the militia and the armed groups are doing in Eastern Congo. Well thanks, again, to President Obama’s leadership, and the leadership of my predecessor in this job, Susan Rice, you know, we have a resolution now that has the UN for the first time—really in history on UN peacekeeping—going after those armed groups with, you know, not just the sense of that there can’t be peace in that area without going after those who would commit such horrific crimes, but with a moral conviction about it, that it’s just wrong.
I met with the force commander, a Brazilian, who last took on the gangs in Haiti. You know, to hear him talk about sexual violence, it was so clear. It was like he was imagining what it would be like to be with his family and to see his wife, or his children, you know, pulled into these kinds of circumstance. I mean, just the kind of, again, I talked earlier about the moral imagination, just deeply felt. So, presidential leadership is key. The exposure—that if people can get exposure to the survivors of violence like this, to sort of puncture, you know, the layers that people have where it becomes personal, and they can imagine people they know, and it doesn’t just feel off and remote and tribal—and this is the international, not to mention the stuff that Malika and Cindy and others were talking about earlier—so, I think with the leadership, with the sort of piercing, then you work on the DNA. And you work on the DNA. And that I think is what we sought to do.
You now have dedicated individuals. If you take, again, this one example I use, which is the National Action Plan of Women, Peace, and Security—if you go through the plan there’s “roman numeral one, A, B, C, you know, one, two,” whatever. And I talk with my colleague at the White House who helped spearhead this plan, a man by the name of Rob Berschinski, and he said what’s so cool about the plan is there is some guy at the Pentagon who, when you say, “Hi, my name is Rob,” he says “Hi, I’m roman numeral three C2B.” You know, my job is to mainstream that. And, again, this is my endless fascination with bureaucracy, but it needs to be automatic, you know, and, again, sort of built into the system to have this kind of regard.
The last thing I would say is that I think the nexus with our interests are—you know, we talked earlier about the false dichotomy between values and interests—is really important. I mean, that’s where the peace processes point—if you’re a consequentialist and you want to see a peace process work, you better have women at the table. Period. And again, we don’t have great studies, but the studies we do have show this, that we need more, which is why the research is also important.
But similarly, countries that don’t take advantage of fifty percent of their potential work force are not going to get the most out of their economies. And the more that we have these sort of facts, and the more we can show that a delta, that a change between, you know, in where we were in terms of the treatment of women, and the inclusion of women, and so forth, and where we got to, the more that we can show some payoffs there for the kinds of things that men and everybody think and care about, I think, also the better. And that will come with time and it comes because more and more I think we, who are—especially the advocates who are thinking about this—are recognizing the importance of showing as well as telling; you know, showing the effects, as well as speaking to just the intrinsic importance.
Reporter: Just quickly, to follow up on that, you talk about countries where fifty percent of their population isn’t really tapped into. Afghanistan right now, we are in the middle of negotiations, a lot of people are concerned one of the big impacts of the US withdraw is going to be a real negative consequence on any gains that were made for women and girls in Afghanistan over the last decade. How do you do something to avoid that right now? I think it seen as a sort of, “what can the U.S. do, you know, we’re leaving?”
Ambassador Power: Well, I mean, there’s no question that, again, the security predicament in Afghanistan is one that all of us worry about and everyone on earth should worry about irrespective of the way we think about the U.S. troop deployment. It is worth noting the gains that have been made in this period—and I know your question is about how do you hold on to them—but twenty-seven percent of parliamentarians now in Afghanistan are women. Now three cabinet officials, women cabinet officials, you know; they had something like eight hundred thousand kids in school who in 2001, and we are now close to nine million, a third of whom are girls, that is going to pay a dividend over time. As we look at the future U.S. posture in Afghanistan, we just have to really to build out the civilian side of things, the development side of things. This is where the UN also comes in. There is a very large UN political mission there. It has in it a human rights component. It has in it people who are expert from other parts of the world, again, at ensuring that gains like this are not lost.
On the security sides, of course, it going to be critical that the Afghans themselves step up and provide that security. But again, I think that the force that women have become in civil society, you know, through the media—not just, again, as women activists, but as activists advocating on behalf of all citizens in Afghanistan—I think that’s going to be hard to contain over time, but security is the key complement to that.
Reporter: Well I know everybody here is taking time out of their morning to come and join us, so we are going to let them go back to work. One final thing—leaning in, as it were—the talks resume today in Geneva, lots of attention on whether the United States and its partners can come to an agreement with Iran. Luckily, that’s not part of your day-to-day negotiating portfolio yet. What do you think are the chances of a deal? Do you feel optimistic that this is the moment when we’re going to have a breakthrough?
Ambassador Power: I am always optimistic. I’m a Red Sox fan who’s—three World Series in the last decade. But you know I think, we had good meetings yesterday with congressional leaders—really important for us to work hand-in-glove with our partners here and internationally. And, you know, we’re not going to take a bad deal. And so, you know, the question now is Iran prepared to take a deal that in this first phase I think would really give us the chance to have more intrusive and more frequent inspections, which would allow us to test whether this new rhetoric is real. And so will be very important.
Reporter: Well, I am sure we will all be paying very close attention to see if after 34 years whether we can get to yes. So, thank you very much.
Ambassador Power: Of course, yeah. Thank you.
Reporter: Ambassador Power.
Ambassador Power: Thank you, thank you.
- Cross posted from U.S. Mission to the UN