Gage Skidmore
U.S. News /23 Jan 2017
01.23.17

Haley’s Comet Will Shine Light on a Dismal UN

In US Senate hearings South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s nominee as US Ambassador to the United Nations, previewed her rising-star, comet-like appeal. Her likely confirmation by the Senate would serve US interests well following years of relative darkness and dormancy at the UN. Haley, unlike UN predecessors Susan Rice or Samantha Power, comes to the UN with much more experience – international or any other, easy criticism to the contrary.

Given the UN’s latest hate note to Israel and US Senate plans to cut off UN funding as a result, “the UN could benefit from a fresh set of eyes” Haley noted. This was a subtle rebuttal to detractors that she lacks international experience to serve as a senior diplomat. Although she admitted that “international diplomacy is a new area for me,” Haley’s international experience is, in fact, more than sufficient.

At the hearing Haley told her personal story – an international expertise developed not by traveling, but by dealing with the world from home.

She described being a first-generation immigrant from India as a young teenager settling in South Carolina. This alone qualifies her no less than her UN predecessor, Samantha Power, herself a youthful immigrant from Ireland settling in nearby Georgia. Haley helped run her family’s fledgling business that competed very well in a market flooded with imports. As a State legislator in South Carolina, she worked in give-and-take typical of UN decision-making. While head of state, Governor Haley defended and advanced South Carolina’s sovereign interests, for example, by persuading BMW to make more cars there than anywhere else outside of Germany. The state has defense forces of its own – the National Guard and the State Guard – under her watch. Finally, Haley’s careful stewardship of South Carolina’s $26 billion state budget, larger than that of several foreign countries, puts into perspective the UN’s annual $2.9 billion program budget which needs overhaul.

Haley’s hallmark, however, is her ability to unite different backgrounds and viewpoints over race, a model for anyone hoping to champion human rights in the world.

Yes, Haley has the skill set of a successful internationalist. But come to think of it, what American alive today doesn’t have international experience? Each year, more and more Americans live without borders by being online, drive cars assembled here and there, travel abroad, use the world wide web as a bookshelf, order masterfully from Szechuan, Cuban, and Thai menus, borrow billions from China, export Hollywood and import Bollywood. Is there an American among us who is only American, who is NOT international?

Those impacted hard by globalization might wish they were not so international. They find themselves laden with international experience to the point of collapse. Their populist discontent is what brought Mr. Trump to office.

Frankly, the stock criticism that Haley doesn’t have international experience by traditional criteria in turn strengthens her populist appeal, working against her critics and other Trump deniers. We have seen this happen time and again – critics’ spears returning as painful boomerangs.

So, while well-experienced for international politics, Haley thankfully is not a self-promoting, smug internationalist, rather a down to earth, open-eyed manager whose record shows that she moves on today’s opportunities while staying ahead of its risks. She is the all-the-better choice for making American great again at the UN.

It looks like Haley’s “fresh set of eyes” will lock “ayes” with the Senate in order to shine light on a dark and dormant United Nations Organization.

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