The most astonishing thing about Nikki Haley’s resignation as US ambassador to the United Nations is that she leaves on a tide of goodwill, with the demeanour of a woman with a job well done. It says a good deal about the calibre of coverage that the only aspects of interest in her tenure was whether her departure was timed to coincide with Brett Kavanaugh’s reception into the Supreme Court and whether she was intending to stand for the presidency herself any time soon. There was a bit of teeth sucking at Donald Trump saying that she’d brought “glamour” to the role – ooh, sexist! – and reflections about the loss of the most senior woman in his administration. There was rather less about the fact that she’s the daughter of Indian immigrants to the US.
Can we drop this gender-driven drivel and reflect on the woman’s actual record? She was one of the most anti-Palestinian member of the administration, at least in its foreign policy division, being an enthusiastic proponent of the most disastrous decision taken in this administration, to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Short of taking dictation directly from Bibi Netanyahu – and who’s to say she didn’t? – it’s hard to think of how much more she could have sucked up to the least appealing political elements in Israel. She’s very keen on the contribution of Ivanka and Jared Trump to policymaking – “they do a lot of things behind the scenes that I wish more people knew about” (do tell) – and on Jared’s Middle East peace plan in particular – “unbelievably well done”! Well, unfortunately, nobody’s actually seen the thing, so that remains to be seen, but it would be nice to know whether Jared, whose family has longstanding Netanyahu connections, actually met a Palestinian prior to being given this delicate task and which actual Palestinians have been involved with its formulation.
Oh and she was keen on ripping up the Iranian peace deal – well done! – and taking a very hard line on Russia’s involvement in Syria and on the Syrian government – without making clear at any point who she wished to back instead. Well, president Assad has won the war in Syria – an outcome very much preferable to the alternative, even given his appalling record – and the Americans have contrived to do nothing except sow confusion, leave meaningful intervention to the Russians and approve the odd bombing raid by Israeli forces within Syria. The outcome of the Syrian civil war, in which international players have called the shots, has been largely decided without the US, though in its appalling haste to ditch the Kurds as soon as the Turks required it, they did manage to give the impression of being a very unreliable ally indeed. As for American intervention to prevent the genocide of the Yazidis – which the Nobel peace prize for Nadia Murad last week reminded us of – the US did about as much as the British government; that is to say, nothing.
It is of course to unfair to blame Haley for all this. She was the spokeswoman, the mouthpiece of the administration, mostly, but she did carry weight and to the extent she did it’s not clear that she used her influence for good. She was a human buffer zone between President Trump and the UN, however, and her glamour may have helped bolster the principle of internationalism within the White House. But for the notion that she deserves to have a shot at the presidency by dint of her record, as opposed to being a glamorous female Republican, forget it.