As ambassador, Haley showed courage, candor amid challenges

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Nikki Haley will leave her post as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the end of the year, having served two years in one of the most important and demanding jobs in the Trump administration. Ambassador Haley was the U.S. face to the international community, working daily with representatives from 193 sovereign states. Her accomplishments were many, on international issues requiring statesmanship of the highest caliber.

What impressed me the most during her tenure was what Haley accomplished with North Korea.  The three National Security Council Resolutions (2321, 2371 and 2375) she introduced, and got approved, convinced North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that his nuclear and missile provocations — especially in 2017, with the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland and the test of a thermonuclear weapon — would further isolate and bankrupt an isolated nation unable to adequately feed its own people.  

{mosads}Getting China and Russia to support these resolutions, which limited North Korea’s import of crude oil and refined petroleum products and banned its export of coal, iron, lead and seafood, was a stark message to Kim that even his only two allies wanted an immediate halt to North Korea’s dangerous nuclear and missile provocations. And as we observed, immediately after Resolution 2375 was passed in September 2017, China and other sovereign states immediately implemented these biting sanctions.

This had to be a wake-up call for Kim, who then took a different tack in his January 2018 New Year’s address when he reached out to South Korea and the United States. And as we observed during the subsequent six months, the world advanced from possible conflict on the Korean Peninsula to Kim engaging in three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a June 12 summit with President Donald Trump and another possible, and three meetings in China with President Xi Jinping. No doubt other factors contributed to Kim’s decision to seek rapprochement with the United States and South Korea, but the U.N. resolutions sanctioning North Korea contributed significantly.  

Haley not only got China and Russia to support these resolutions, she also got these two allies of North Korea, and the whole of the international community, to implement crushing sanctions.

Yet Haley’s accomplishments were not confined to North Korea. The work she did articulating the reasons that the United States was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement was critical in getting the international community to focus on Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support to terrorist organizations and military involvement in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. It was Haley who eloquently made the case for President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while working prodigiously on issues dealing with peace in the Middle East.  

Securing an arms embargo to South Sudan and withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council were some of the other issues that Haley effectively pursued, as the new U.S. administration confronted a myriad of sensitive international issues with candor and courage.

An ambassador — especially an ambassador to the United Nations — is the person representing the United States to the international community, often on sensitive issues for which there’s sometimes limited international support. An ambassador is expected, at a minimum, to make the case for the U.S. position. Ideally, however, an effective ambassador can help to educate and convince others that the U.S. position is the correct decision, deserving of support.  

Using this criteria, Ambassador Haley far exceeded expectations, in one of the most demanding ambassadorships in the U.S. government. We owe her our gratitude.

Ambassador Joseph R. DeTrani was the State Department’s former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea from 2003 to 2006. He directed the National Counterproliferation Center in 2010 and was a special adviser to the director of national intelligence. He served more than two decades with the CIA and as a member of the Senior Intelligence Service. The views are the author’s and not those of any government department or agency.

Tags 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal Donald Trump Kim Jong-un Nikki Haley Nuclear program of North Korea the United Nations

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