The selection of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador has clear and definite advantages. The first is that she has the skills necessary to advocate for U.S. interests in a hostile forum.
Haley came up with the Tea Party movement, in the long political winter of 2009-2010. She has moved to the center since then, but learned the hard way how to confront media critics and political opponents. Turtle Bay is a den of scavenging hyenas; the job requires a lion — or in this case, a lioness.
Second, Haley is an excellent representative of what America has become — a tolerant, diverse society to which immigrants like Haley’s family have contributed more than their share. Haley is internationally known for being the governor who took on the Confederate flag, which will draw interest and respect from foreign diplomats. And third, Haley shows that Trump can reach out to his critics — and reward his supporters, like Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, who will move into Haley’s former role.
The major drawback of the Haley pick is that she has no significant international diplomatic experience and no expertise in foreign policy. She has the right positions — she is pro-Israel, for instance, which is refreshing, given Obama’s last few picks — but the task of UN Ambassador is no ordinary diplomatic posting.
The UN Ambassador has to know — or to learn — the ins and out of one of the world’s most complicated institutions, where protocol is a virtual battlefield, and words are weapons.
Haley is a political pick. She will need experienced hands — and not career State Department bureaucrats — to fill the related slots, such as the deputy UN Ambassador and the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.
As much contempt as President-elect Donald Trump and Americans in general have for the UN, it is where wars are won and lost before shots are fired. Merely defending America’s interests is not enough. Haley will need help to press them forward.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.