Sending Novice Haley to UN, Trump Clears Path for Loyalist in South Carolina

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster during Haley's State of the State speech in January. (Photo: AP)

Sending Novice Haley to UN, Trump Clears Path for Loyalist in South Carolina

Haley's nomination has the (possibly intended) consequence of elevating Trump loyalist in South Carolina

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican who "lacks obvious foreign policy experience," is President-elect Donald Trump's choice to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations--a decision that carries the added perk of elevating early Trump supporter and South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster.

Haley clashed with Trump during the presidential primary, endorsing his GOP rival Marco Rubio and delivering a State of the Union response that not-so-subtly jabbed at Trump's campaign rhetoric. Trump tweeted on March 1, "The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!" to which Haley responded: "@realDonaldTrump, Bless your heart."

But with Trump's announcement on Wednesday, all that appears to be water under the bridge. "Governor Haley 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," Trump said in a press release. "She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage."

"Nikki Haley goes to the UN, Trump looks like a unifier... and a Trump loyalist is appointed South Carolina Gov. Focus on the big picture."
--@kyleraccio, Twitter

However, wrote South Carolina's Post and Courier, her planned nomination--which must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate--"is likely to raise questions about Haley's qualifications for a major foreign policy role since she has little diplomatic experience as state lawmaker and governor."

Indeed, "Haley's qualifications for the job are thin," argued Margaret Hartmann at New York magazine. "She worked on trade and labor issues during her six years as governor, but her foreign policy experience is confined to eight trips to foreign nations to discuss economic-development opportunities in her state."

Politicoadded, "little is known about her stance on contentious topics such as how to end the war in Syria. Like other Republicans, Haley opposed the Iran nuclear deal, which is widely supported by most of the international community."

The outlet further reported:

[T]here is much unknown about how Haley will approach the job, given her lack of international experience. [President Barack] Obama's two U.N. ambassadors, by comparison, were established experts about the organization. At the same time, [European Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Richard] Gowan expects that the political situations in places not on the president-elect's radar, like the Central African Republic and South Sudan, to only worsen, which will mean a "hellishly steep learning curve for Haley," he said.

Her political background means she'll be well suited for much of the retail diplomacy that comes with this posting. But when it comes to machinations with the Security Council's permanent members--and Russia in particular--her lack of experience may be a disadvantage.

"She's going to be going up against Russia's ambassador Vitaly Churkin--who has been here a decade," Gowan said. "The Russians have been able to outmaneuver the U.S. on several fronts this year so I think Churkin will see this as a great Thanksgiving gift. There will be a lot of concern about that imbalance."

And ThinkProgressnoted that "Haley appears worryingly, if not surprisingly, out of step with the international community when it comes to climate change. Most of the world has recognized that anthropogenic climate change is an existential threat to humanity, and the U.N. has become a major framework for addressing greenhouse gas emissions."

"While she has not explicitly denied the veracity of climate change science, in 2013, Haley was accused of burying a report from the South Carolina Department of Environmental Resources on the challenges climate change will bring to the state," ThinkProgress reported. "More recently, Haley was lambasted for failing to acknowledge the role of climate change in her state's devastating floods."

Meanwhile, her appointment is also a gift to South Carolina Lt. Gov. McMaster, who will take Haley's place and was among the first to endorse Trump during the primary campaign. In delivering the nomination speech for Trump at the Republican National Convention, McMaster praised the president-elect's "uncommon strength" and lauded him for "walking away from a business enterprise...because he loves his country."

People responded to Haley's nomination and its implications on social media:

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.