America’s former ambassador to the United Nations has told Sky News that she is “heartbroken” over the “coldness and the cruelty” of Donald Trump’s foreign policy decisions.
Samantha Power was appointed by Barack Obama and has been an outspoken critic of his successor.
She features in a new documentary called The Final Year, a story about the last, frenetic legacy-building efforts of Mr Obama’s foreign policy team.
It has been released to coincide with the first anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration and Ms Power is giving interviews to help promote the film.
Speaking about President Trump’s mission to dismantle much of her team’s signature achievements, including the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate accord, policies to welcome refugees and more, Ms Power said: “For me it feels less like ‘oh all that labour spent and now it’s all being taken away’ and now just ‘oh my gosh our country!’
“The coldness and the cruelty of these choices and the families who are going to be affected, I mean, like every citizen I’m just completely heartbroken.”
She is still unsure at the price America might pay for President Trump’s approach to international affairs.
She said: “I think that provided we can avoid a big war for instance in North Korea or Iran… I still think three years from now the world will be hungry for US leadership… but the big war scenarios, if it looks like it’s us (that caused it), I think that’s a bit of a game-changer.
Does she really believe there is a genuine risk of war between the US and another nuclear power?
“I mean I think it’s fair to say that there’s a higher risk of war and even of nuclear war, you could say, since the Cuban missile crisis.
“The miscalculation and the escalatory cycle that can ensue, I mean that risk is definitely real.
“I don’t think threatening a man who is as isolated as Kim Jong Un is, who has the tools of destruction at his disposal as he does, without it being part of a more comprehensive strategy, I don’t think that’s a winning foreign policy.”
But Ms Power’s time in office, by her own admission, was far from perfect.
She pushed for both UN-sanctioned and unilateral intervention in Syria – and didn’t get it.
It is something she still feels partly responsible for.
“You don’t get 100% of what you want in these jobs, but I never felt ‘woe is me’, I felt’ woe are the Syrians’, and I wish I’d argued it better, I wish I had been more persuasive… I wish I were more confident that what I had proposed was the right thing.
“But in the end, I can’t tell you with any confidence that had we done this five-point plan that we would have had a different outcome in Syria. It really is the most complicated conflict I’ve ever looked at.”
For now Ms Power must watch from the sidelines as President Trump makes good on the promises he made to those who voted for him, many of whom welcomed a chance to be less involved in and responsible for the affairs of other nations.
Referring to Mr Obama, she said he says history “zigs and zags”.
“As we each month go through more Trump travesties, own goals and manmade, presidentially-made crises, I find myself shouting at the screen, ‘can we get some zagging?! Enough of the zigging ok!’
“But I think that the profundity of the film and the thing that pulls people out of the despair of election night and the sense that a lot of people have that dark forces are overriding the forces of light either over here or in Russia or Eastern Europe or wherever, the thing that redeems that… is the sense that individuals are making history, and even now as we live through the Trump years, which are very difficult for a lot of people, around the country and around the world, history is getting made by more than Donald Trump.
“History is getting made by the 25,000 women who are running for office in this country, who never thought about running for office before, and by our courts who are rejecting Donald Trump’s effort to expel transgender people from our military.
“History is being made by people who are moving into the climate realm who feel now ‘well shoot, I thought the executive was going to do it, I thought the White House would be implementing our Paris commitments but I guess it’s just me, I’m the mayor I had better figure out how we are going to do it in our town’.
“So I think the message of the film powerfully is not about foreign policy but about individual agency and if we want to see that arc of history bending toward justice, it’s going to get bent by people who don’t just sit back and wait for the president to change.”