- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 18, 2013

After criticizing the U.N. for its “entrenched” bureaucracy, Samantha Power now is trying to block the re-election of a Swiss diplomat accused of lavishing praise on dictators and abuse on Israel.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations took to Twitter to denounce Jean Ziegler, a former sociology professor and former Social Democrat member of the Swiss parliament.

“Indeed, Dr. Ziegler is unfit for continued service” at the U.N. Human Rights Council, she wrote last week.

Ms. Power, whom conservatives feared would be a weak advocate for U.S. values at the U.N., is turning out to be a critic of the status quo. This month, she used her first speech as ambassador to prod the U.N.

“Bureaucracies are built. Positions become entrenched,” she said in a speech in Los Angeles. “And while the United Nations has done tremendous good in the world, there are times when the organization has lost its way.”

In her denunciation of Mr. Ziegler, she took on a 79-year-old fixture at the U.N. who has praised Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Cuba’s Fidel Castro, while accusing Israel of human rights abuses.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, praised Ms. Power and denounced Switzerland for nominating Mr. Ziegler for another term.

“We applaud the principled statement of Ambassador Power and urge the U.S. and other nations to actively fight the incomprehensible Swiss nomination,” said Mr. Neuer, whose Swiss-based group monitors human rights issues at the U.N.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry has defended the nomination, pointing to Mr. Ziegler’s service as a U.N. representative to fight world hunger from 2000 to 2008.

“One of his many achievements has been to make the right to food one of the main priorities of U.N. agencies and bodies which fight poverty and hunger,” the ministry said.

However, the head of the U.N. World Food Program complained in 2002 about Mr. Ziegler’s incompetence.

He is “seriously damaging the efforts to respond to food crises around the world,” then-Executive Director James Morris wrote to Kofi Annan, at the time the U.N. secretary-general.

LOST CREDIBILITY

A top lawmaker accused President Obama of losing “nearly all credibility” with the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood, after more than 800 people died in clashes between the two sides in Cairo and other cities last week.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on North Africa and Middle East, insisted that future U.S. aid to Egypt’s military must be linked to a return to civilian government and free and fair elections.

The Florida Republican noted that the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. aid is the only leverage Washington has to influence the outcome of the deadly confrontations.

“American taxpayer dollars are not an entitlement for countries to do with as they please,” Mrs. Ros-Lentinen said.

She criticized Mr. Obama for failing to “act decisively” before and after the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

“The United States must take a firm stance and not dither in order to encourage both sides to get back on track toward democracy,” she said.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

• Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, who meets Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to discuss U.S.-Chinese military issues, including cybersecurity.

Wednesday

• Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, who discusses Georgia’s tense relations with Russia at a forum at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University

• Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.