There are many in Washington today who have no clue what they are doing. Or at least who were grossly un-or-under-qualified for the jobs they were placed in by Trump & Co. For example, we have the man who sued the EPA multiple times, now in charge of the EPA. We have the woman who does not believe in public schools, now over the Department of Education. There is a documented racist in the position of Attorney General. We have a former oil company executive serving as Secretary of State. And we have former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley serving as ambassador to the United Nations.
Haley first came onto my radar in 2015 when she called on the state to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse after the killing of nine black church members by Dylan Roof in June of that year.
“For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage, and of ancestry. At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past.”
I was pleased with her decision and admired the courage it took to make the decision. I was also pleased with her position last year during the seemingly-endless 2016 presidential campaign, when she argued against the Republican’s hardline stance on immigration, saying, “You know, the one thing that got me I think was when he [Trump] started saying ban all Muslims. We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.” She also called for Republicans not to “follow the siren call of the angriest voices”.
I think, based on what I know, that Nikki Haley was a good governor. That, however, in no way qualifies her for a key foreign policy post. I won’t even speculate on the reasons Trump may have actually had for this nomination, but here is what he said:
“[She] has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country — she is also a proven deal-maker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”
Interestingly, when it was noted that she had no foreign policy experience, her supporters argued, saying that she had traveled abroad at least eight times! It should be noted that ‘traveling abroad’ does not give one in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of foreign policy and international relations!
Haley had been a critic of Trump throughout the campaign, saying at one point, “I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK.” Trump returned the criticism with a March 1st tweet: “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!” Somehow, despite their apparent enmity during the campaign, they seem to have now formed a mutual-admiration society. Last month, Haley praised Trump for his decision to launch an air strike against a Syrian air base, and at the same time made excuses and tried to justify the hypocrisy of his decision based on the fact that he believed al-Assad had used chemical weapons on Syrian children … the very same Syrian children he would ban from fleeing to the U.S. I do not understand how an intelligent person switches tracks in under a year, from being highly critical to sickeningly supportive.
In the position of ambassador to the U.N., Haley has been, perhaps, the most outspoken member of the Trump administration to weigh in on key foreign policy issues, on everything from military strikes on Syria to sanctions against Russia and how to approach human rights. But apparently much of what she says has come as a surprise to Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who is also incredibly inept at the position he occupies. Tillerson has kept a relatively low profile and is noted for skipping meetings with world leaders.
Tillerson and Haley have expressed differing views on a number of issues, notably the future of Syria and its president, al-Assad. Haley indicated in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the United States does not see a peaceful political resolution for Syria’s civil war as long as Assad remains in power:
” We don’t see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there. The objective of U.S. policy is to defeat ISIS. I mean, we’ve got to do that for peace and stability in the area. It’s also to get out the Iranian influence, which we think is causing so much friction and worse issues in the area. And then we’ve got to go and make sure that we actually see a leader that will protect his people. And clearly, Assad is not that person.”
Tillerson’s view, however, appears to be slightly different. Speaking on ABC News’ “This Week,” Tillerson said the Syrian people will eventually decide Assad’s fate:
“Our priority is first the defeat of ISIS. Once we can eliminate the battle against ISIS, conclude that, and it is going quite well, then we hope to turn our attention to cease-fire agreements between the regime and opposition forces. In that regard, we are hopeful that we can work with Russia and use their influence to achieve areas of stabilization throughout Syria and create the conditions for a political process through Geneva in which we can engage all of the parties on the way forward, and it is through that political process that we believe the Syrian people will lawfully be able to decide the fate of Bashar al-Assad.”
The differing opinions drew fire from some, notably Senator Marco Rubio and national security advisor H.R. McMaster. Apparently in an effort to “foster greater coherence”, the State Department is requesting Ms. Haley’s aides to ensure her public remarks are cleared by Washington first. An email drafted by State Department diplomats urged Ms. Haley’s office to rely on “building blocks” written by the department to prepare her remarks. Her comments should be “re-cleared with Washington if they are substantively different from the building blocks, or if they are on a high-profile issue such as Syria, Iran, Israel-Palestine, or the D.P.R.K.“
Tensions between the U.N. ambassador and Secretary of State are not unusual, but in this case, we have two people in positions that they are not qualified for, speaking of issues on which they are not particularly knowledgeable, and one would like to see them take the time to learn and understand before they speak. But then, their boss is also unqualified and not knowledgeable of his own position and his “foreign policy” remains scattered like the 1,000 pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This circus train was once a highly respected player in international relations … hopefully at some point these people will come up to speed, know their jobs, and make sound decisions, but they are not there yet.