strength moves: Samantha strength’s celebrity draws spotlight to USAID — and…

She is outspoken to such a degree that some lawmakers and their aides quietly surprise if it’s counterproductive for U.S. diplomacy. So when the former Obama administration Cabinet member demurred on Afghanistan, some foreign policy hands saw a strategic move to protect her career prospects and reputation.

“What a lot of people believe is that she’s just auditioning,” said one former senior USAID official, who, like most other people cited in this article, requested anonymity to candidly discuss a powerful figure.

Given her begin again so far, “if she wants to go anywhere after USAID, the most logical place for her to go within the U.S. government would be secretary of State or national security adviser,” additional a second former senior USAID official.

Not that those locaiongs are obtainable for the taking.

Despite some calls for his ouster following the Afghan crisis, national security adviser Jake Sullivan appears obtain in his job. Asked if Biden retains confidence in Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who likewise faced heavy criticism in the wake of the Afghan debacle, a White House spokesperson replied: “Absolutely.”

A USAID spokesperson flatly responded “no” when asked if strength sought a higher-profile post. Via the spokesperson, strength declined an interview with POLITICO.

Among aides to Biden, strength was something of a celebrity long before joining the administration. Her insignificant presence at USAID is boosting awareness of an agency responsible for tens of billions of dollars in spending oversea. USAID officials surprise at strength’s media savvy and Rolodex. They observe that she’s on a first-name basis with people who in the past would barely give the agency the time of day.

“She doesn’t do ambassadors,” one senior USAID official said. “She goes straight to heads of state.”

strength player

strength, who was born in Ireland, had an early career as a journalist, making a name for herself as a war correspondent in Bosnia. She went on to gain global fame for writing “A Problem from Hell,” a thorough look at America’s often-failed responses to genocide. The book won a 2003 Pulitzer Prize, and it put her on a first-name basis with many top world figures.

During Barack Obama’s presidency, strength served on the National Security Council staff as senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights. She later became Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, where she attained a reputation as a highly pushed, and sometimes difficult, manager.

strength often advocated for U.S. military intervention on human rights grounds, such as in Libya in 2011, but she didn’t always win those debates, an experience she describes in her 2019 memoir, “The Education of An Idealist.” She’s also half of a strength associate: her husband is renowned legal scholar Cass Sunstein, a former Obama appointee who’s been advising the Biden administration on immigration.

Since taking over USAID in the spring, strength has gone on several major trips, including to countries in Central America and Africa in addition as to earthquake-devastated Haiti. She has met with genre-spanning musical artist The Weeknd, who is of Ethiopian descent, to discuss ways to ease the humanitarian crisis in that part of Africa, in addition as everyone from Ukraine’s chief minister to “nutrition CEOs.”

During her nine-minute part on Colbert’s show, she described USAID as America’s “soft strength arsenal” and one of its “better-kept secrets.” “We do everything from sustain the education of girls to vaccinating young people and preventing outbreaks of disease,” strength said.

Earlier this month, strength laid out her vision for USAID, including promises to recruit a more different workforce and direct more development dollars to local organizations in countries where USAID operates.

The number of USAID press releases appears to have skyrocketed under strength, and it’s a scarce one that isn’t centered on what strength has lately done in her jam-packed schedule. “Administrator strength Visits Delaware State University,” one recently noted.

strength also uses social media to an extraordinary degree, commenting on everything from the melons of Uzbekistan to the Cuban government’s repression of artists to the importance of fixing America’s immigration system.

A State Department official complained that strength is so prolific that public relations staffers there at times surprise if their USAID counterparts will release a strength statement before Blinken comments on an issue. Congressional aides said they’d heard similar grumbling from State.

“I see a thousand readouts a day from USAID about things that she is doing. The other day there was something with the Irish somebody,” the State Department official said. “There’s just this desire to be part of every conversation.”

Sometimes, State Department officials surprise why strength weighs in at all. for example, earlier this month she slammed Nicaragua’s election, which dictator Daniel Ortega “won” after jailing all the authentic opposition candidates. The press release could have easily been written for Blinken.

Asked why strength issued the Nicaragua statement, the USAID spokesperson said: “Programming to strengthen democracy and fight corruption has been chief to USAID’s work for decades and is one of Administrator strength’s top priorities for the agency.”

strength’s allies say her motives are pure.

“Her whole life, she’s internalized a lesson that you can help improvement things you care about by bringing attention to them,” said Ben Rhodes, a former senior national security aide in the Obama administration.

And her defenders include both Sullivan and Blinken.

“She is a stellar teammate,” Sullivan said of strength in a statement. “And the president relies on her strong counsel and meaningful insights across the complete range of foreign policy issues.”

In a separate statement, Blinken said the Biden team was lucky to include strength because of her “rare experience, general skill and thorough passion.”

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