In a career filled with political diplomacy, UN is a natural step for US governor Nikki Haley
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s journey to the UN has struck members of both parties as unlikely: the appointment of a Republican with limited foreign policy experience to a Cabinet-level post. But through the prism of a career bursting with political diplomacy and ambition, it is a natural next step.
Haley, 44, who president-elect Donald Trump announced on Wednesday as his nominee
for US ambassador to the UN, has long shuttled between her party’s mainstream and its conservative base, maintaining ties to each wing even as she resists being labelled as “tea party” or “establishment”.
And the daughter of Indian immigrants has consistently asserted herself as a voice for both the Republican future and its past traditions.
These contradictory signals have made her an ascendant force as well as occasionally inscrutable. She is at once a favourite of the business elite and Mitt Romney and a populist-sounding, Sarah Palin-endorsed southern executive.
Haley’s ability to translate those relationship skills and savvy to the UN will almost certainly be crucial in her success – or failure – in navigating the swirling spheres of influence at Trump Tower. Not only will she need to explain Trump and his brash foreign policy to the world, but she will be tasked with keeping her place within the president-elect’s at times chaotic orbit and within a Republican Party that has cracks across it.
Having already been elected twice as governor, serving alongside Trump offers Haley an opportunity to gain credibility as a global leader without her being cast as a “globalist” or establishment Republican.
When Trump roiled the Republican Party primaries, Haley was trusted by party leaders and encouraged to speak out against his style of politics but she did so while rarely mentioning his name. It was a messy jumble of gestures, mostly subtle and confusing.
“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference,” Haley said. “That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume.”