Last Tuesday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley resigned from her post. There are many analysts who consider Nikki Haley’s departure from the UN a very sad development, and another indication that the so called “adults in the room” are leaving Trump’s administration. Many consider Haley to have been a moderating force in Trump’s foreign policy, or to at least bring him closer to the mainstream of the GOP foreign policy establishment.
Writing for Atlantic, David A. Graham is one of those people:
Haley was an unknown quantity on foreign policy before her appointment, but she quickly won over much of the establishment with her Reaganite approach. Against Trump’s isolationist and retrenching influences, she has been hawkish and emphasized the importance of international alliances. Haley has been the administration’s most prominent critic of Russia, even as Trump tends to coddle Vladimir Putin. […] For the most part, however, Haley has been more effective than many of the other so-called “adults” at maintaining a working relationship with Trump despite their differences.
I believe the falsehood that Haley was a “moderating” influence or an “adult” in the room is apparent even in what Graham writes here. The point is, the “Reaganite” approach is not a very moderate approach. It certainly has some advantages to Trumpist foreign policy that is uniquely dangerous, but Haley’s foreign policy was extremely unilateralist in her own right, and anyway, in practice, she was completely transformed into a delegate for Trump’s agenda. For example, as John Nichols has pointed out, Haley acted like a semi-Bolton in her UN ambassadorship, undermining the purpose of this institution as she served on it:
That she did, providing cover for the president’s most extreme and dangerous pronouncements and policies. Trump has never shown any respect for the UN, and Haley made it clear that her ambassadorship would focus on “protecting our interests” rather than forging partnerships or promoting peacekeeping and diplomacy. Indeed, one of Haley’s biggest projects at the UN was downsizing the UN, with threats of cuts in US aid and steady prodding to reduce the ambitions of the global body. Haley grumbled, “We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked.”
As Nichols goes on to say, Haley has provided justification for all disastrous policies of President Trump, from violating the Iran Deal, to pulling out of the Paris Accords, to his extremely dangerous rhetoric on North Korea (before his sudden turn heel), to moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, to threatening allies who dare question Trump policies.
One particular funny episode of her was when she stood in front of an alleged wreckage of an Iranian missile which was used in a Yemeni Houthi attack against Saudi Arabia. Now, it’s quite possible for Iran to have helped Houthis to have received arms from Iran, but there were many signs that the evidence was tampered. She basically put a show on for the world, like Netanyahu and his props, in an act that was free of substance. She was basically a radical in her tenure through and through.
And there is absolutely no sign and no evidence that she played a better role behind the curtain either. There hasn’t been a single report of her restraining President Trump’s worst instincts, or standing up to him against his erratic behavior. And in such a leaky White House, that would have been public knowledge quite rapidly.
You can compare her with Jim Mattis to see the difference. Now, I’d say Mattis really is an “adult in the room”, and his departure, if the rumors are true, will be quite a tragedy and make things worse. When it comes to Mattis, we have lots of evidence to point to that though, both in his public remarks — for example publicly defending the Iran Deal as Trump violated it — to his actions behind the scenes, for example ignoring his orders to assassinate Bashar Al-Assad as Woodward has reported. But Haley never publicly contradicted or restrained Trump, except in the case of Russia, but that hardly amounts to “moderating influence”.
In short, Nikki Haley was no moderating influence. In the end she was barely more than a Sarah Huckabee Sanders in New York, a sycophant mouthpiece with no real moderating influence or integrity as a diplomat.
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