Haley’s Comet

JEWISH LIGHT EDITORIAL

Like the comet that shares her name, Nikki Haley blazed a bright path through the often opaque, difficult-to-comprehend foreign policy of the Trump administration. With her departure, we hope the president finds someone with equal talent and international respect.

Last week’s sudden resignation of the widely admired Haley as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations took official Washington and the media by surprise.  Not since the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan has there been such a highly principled representative of the United States to the world body.

Like her brave predecessor, Haley has fiercely defended both the United States and Israel against the constant barrage of one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the Security Council, UNESCO and even the World Health Organization. She has deftly used the U.S. veto or the threat of veto to kill anti-Israel measures. 

She was also able to secure unanimous Security Council support to keep essential sanctions in place against North Korea—even gaining the support of Russia and China.

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Haley has a history of diplomacy that is often missing in the Trump administration. As governor of South Carolina, she was able to defuse the controversy of a Confederate flag on the state capitol grounds by moving it to a museum.

And unlike many top officials in the administration, Haley showed a streak of independence when necessary. A signature moment during her tenure as U.N. envoy came in April of this year. 

After she said the United States planned to impose new sanctions on Russia — an announcement that came sooner than what the White House had planned — economic adviser Larry Kudlow tried to downplay her statement, telling reporters:

“There might have been some momentary confusion about that.”

Haley quickly shot back, asserting that “with all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow later walked back his statement, telling The New York Times, “She was certainly not confused. I was wrong to say that — totally wrong.”

No confusion there about who had the upper hand.

In addition to Haley’s consistent and principled advocacy in defense of Israel, her diplomacy was helpful and constructive in other complex hot spots. She helped manage relations with our allies on the Iran deal that President Donald Trump withdrew from, and she took a tougher stance on Russian President Vladimir Putin than the president, who seems unwilling or even fearful to offend the Russian autocrat. 

Her skills could yet be helpful in developing a response to the suspicious death of a Saudi journalist in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.  And she has been passionately outspoken against the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, who has been committing genocide against his own people.  

We hope Haley will continue to speak out on these issues not only until she steps down from her U.N. post at the end of this year, but well into the future. Ideally, she will return to public service after a hiatus, though apparently not as a presidential contender in 2020. 

She is a very tough act to follow at the U.N. The name of Ivanka Trump was quickly floated as her successor, but she insists she does not want the post, and it certainly calls for someone with more experience and expertise in the international realm.  Former Senator Joe Lieberman, who was Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, also has been mentioned, and he deserves serious consideration.

Regardless of who is nominated to succeed her, Nikki Haley has set the platinum standard for the sensitive and important U.N. position. We wish her well and

warmly thank her for her service.