On Tuesday, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, resigned unexpectedly from her post,after having served just over 18 months in the position. Her departure spurred a mixed reaction, with many criticizing what they saw as her evangelical, hypocritical and aggressive approach to international relations, understanding her as a typical American neo-conservative desperate for conflict.
It is no wonder that some voices among the US elite and media decided to praise her, somehow seeing her legacy as being a fiber of moral decency in a Trump administration widely presumed to have none. This led to an editorial column appearing in the New York Times stating “Nikki Haley will be missed,” arguing she was a champion of multilateralism in the difficult context of a presidential administration who detested the United Nations, and that she left the position with her “dignity largely intact.” Of course, if one observed Haley's day-to-day behavior, one may find themselves baffled as to how anyone could possibly come to these conclusions.
Haley's assertive and zealous attitude in United Nations meetings could have not been more representative of the Trumpian mantra of “America First” and extreme unilateralism.
For example, throughout the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) crisis, Haley did not opt for reasoned or cool-headed approaches to Pyongyang's provocations. Instead, she repeatedly raised the threat of conflict if other parties did not follow America's wishes. Her attitude in these settings embodied a mode of thinking that her colleagues were simply an annoying obstruction -- rather than partners -- in securing international cooperation, peace, and well-being.
She was always very clear about her position: You either got in line with America's wishes or Washington simply ignored the United Nations as it saw fit.
This was not just in rhetoric, but in practice too. Haley treats the world organization with nothing but contempt as she supported the controversial overturn of the globally approved Iran deal and vetoing the entire Security Council in its disapproval of America's unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. She spoke with malice against the UN for daring to disagree, effectively emboldening and offering public justification for Trump's financial warfare against the organization.
US President Donald Trump announces that he has accepted the resignation of Nikki Haley as US Ambassador to the United Nations, in Washington, DC, on October 9, 2018./VCG Photo
One might be forgiven for assuming she was a woman of principle and conviction, yet the reality finds she is likewise deserving of neither. Haley's behavior in New York was akin to political theater, perhaps even a pantomime; marred by acting, surreal hysteria, exaggerations, and outright double standards. She shamed the DPRK and Iran in a dramatically villainous fashion, akin to something you'd see in the Avengers. According to her, such nations were threats to all of humanity -- undisputedly evil, even.
On the other hand, she was very happy to flat out ignore, dismiss and even deny atrocities committed by US allies such as Israel. One, of course, can always expect the United Nations' job to be political as each ambassador must fight for their given nation's interests in the world, but without a doubt, Haley took this to a new level of absurdity and indecency. Her behavior was nothing short of extreme, unsettling and comical.
United States ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley listens during a United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in Myanmar at UN Headquarters in New York on August 28, 2018. /VCG Photo
As a whole, Haley won't be missed. The media praise her because her elite “value-centric” neo-conservatism appears on the surface to be different to Trump's more nativist mantra, but the reality is it simply isn't. There are few people more “America first” or “America is Great” than Haley has been.
She fitted perfectly into the Trump frame of mind, embodying perfectly some of the most disliked aspects of US foreign policy. Zealotry, aggression, unilateralism, double standards, trigger happy and a contempt for internationalism, she bore all of them openly and proudly. Given she is one day being touted as a presidential hopeful herself, one can only fear for the rest of the world.