- - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, calls herself the “genocide chick,” reflecting her urge to intervene in tragedy. She boasts that she’ll do whatever it takes to nip mass tragedy in the bud. Or she used to. In Syria, the limits on the left’s conflicting impulses are starkly revealed.

Ms. Power calls the three-year-old civil war in Syria “the worst humanitarian crisis we have seen in a generation.” With the recent mushrooming of “Arab Spring” violence across the Middle East, it’s difficult to calculate which disaster deserves the title of “worst.”

Still, a conservative estimate places the death toll in Syria at about 150,000, with 10,000 children among the slain. The U.N. estimates that an additional 6 million Syrians have been displaced, fleeing the fighting, and a million children live day to day without humanitarian aid.

Ms. Power was appointed ambassador to the United Nations mostly on the strength of her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” a broad attack on American foreign policy for failing to act to halt genocide in Bosnia.

As America’s chief of mission at the U.N., she has a bully pulpit, but she is trapped in the ideology of her own party. Her boss and fellow critic of America’s past behavior, President Obama, steadily undermines the United States as the world’s only true superpower. It’s hard to intervene from behind.

Nothing has done more to diminish American stature in the world community than the president’s warning in 2012 that Syrian President Bashar Assad would cross a “red line” if he should use chemical weapons on his own people.

Tough talk, but for many U.S. friend and foe alike, Mr. Obama’s deferral to Russian President Vladimir Putin last summer on the onerous task of dismantling those weapons marked the crossing point of an ascendant Russia and an America in decline.

Once a champion of humanitarian intervention, Ms. Power is now relegated to the ranks of U.N. tongue-cluckers as Mr. Obama requires America to back away from trouble in Syria and elsewhere. “Harrowing” was among her brief description of the Assad regime’s delays in allowing relief convoys to enter Syria.

The killing in the three-year-old war, Valerie Amos, the U.N. humanitarian chief, says, intensified during the past month. “Harrowing,” indeed. Mr. Assad continues preparations to hold elections this summer, in which he intends to run for another seven-year term, confident that Russia will block any attempt by the U.N. Security Council to impose effective sanctions on his government.

The urge to eliminate disagreeable neighbors has plagued humankind since Cain slew Abel. Genocide happens, and now it is happening on Ms. Power’s watch. The “genocide chick” label she gave herself has become a mark of shame in “leading” from behind.

Finger-wagging at the United Nations does nothing to stop the shedding of blood. “The problem from hell” is only solved when God-fearing men with steel backbones and muscular arms stand between the evildoers and their victims. The world can expect more genocide, not less, in a world bereft of a benevolent superpower.