Diverse and outsider pick
The nomination of 44-year-old Haley — born to immigrant parents from India — cannot be seen outside the sequence of the five white male appointments that Trump made in the last two weeks since winning the election.
This contrast led former Republican strategist Ana Navarro to sing Haley plenty of praise on Twitter, saying: “Don’t care if @nikkihaley has little foreign policy experience. She’s not: a jerk; a white supremacist; a peddler of fake news. She’s great!”
“Personally, I think Trump wanted a woman appointment, and that is why Haley was chosen,” says David Shor, a foreign policy analyst based in New York. “Haley’s immigrant roots, along with other political calculus that Trump had, and not her diplomatic repertoire or little known foreign policy experience are likely behind the pick.”
Haley brings the profile of an outsider to the UN position, and she is known to have rocked the establishment boat during her tenure as governor, calling to remove the Confederate Flag from the statehouse in 2015. Unlike her predecessors Ambassadors Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Zalmay Khalilzad and John Bolton, Haley does not come with international expertise to the arena.
Foreign policy views
There is little known about Haley’s foreign policy positions. Unlike her boss, Haley has taken a softer position on settling refugees, with her state — South Carolina — accepting 22 refugees from Syria and looking into the resettlement of another 26.
However, Haley’s position on the Iran nuclear deal is more aligned with the new US president, signing a letter with other governors last year that opposes “the lifting of federal sanctions that will result from this agreement” warning that it “will only result in Iran having more money available to fund terrorist groups and attacks.”
Haley, along with 13 other governors, said: “The people of our states will not be safer as a result of this agreement, much less citizens of countries such as Israel which Iran has threatened to destroy.”
As governor of the “Palmetto State,” Haley has also vehemently opposed boycott calls against Israel.
Her being a foreign policy “novice” could work in her favor, says Shor, in preventing clashes with Trump and possibly bringing unconventional positions to the floor of the Security Council.
The biggest challenges she could face could be “to ensure the UN doesn’t do stupid things and pays attention to the North Koreans and Iranians,” says Danielle Pletka, senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. She compliments Haley’s appointment but sees the task as unenviable, telling Arab News, “I don’t envy her but I’m sure she’s up to the job.”
The “pick for secretary of state will be far more telling of Trump’s trajectory,” says Shor. If the president-elect picks former Gov. Mitt Romney, it will cement Trump’s approach for bringing on rivals and more moderate GOP voices to his Cabinet, whereas assigning the first diplomatic job to his close adviser Rudy Giuliani would tip the balance in favor of Trump loyalists.
The Nikki Haley nod is a more diverse and unconventional pick for Trump, earning him praise among former critics, coupled with skepticism for the lack of her foreign policy experience.