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We haven’t seen the last of Nikki Haley

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If you wanted an American ambassador to the United Nations Security Council who could talk tough — almost on par with President Trump — you could do no better than former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. 

“If war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed,” explained the ambassador, back in late November of last year. No wonder North Korea didn’t exactly jump at the chance to give up its nuclear weapons.

{mosads}Or, there is this, doubling down on her remarks when speaking to “Fox News Sunday” talk show anchor Chris Wallace, stating that “if war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed, and if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.” She added, “the reality is, if North Korea even attempts to try and threaten the United States or any one of our allies, they will be utterly destroyed.”

Sadly, Haley’s remarks were never challenged — but they should have been.

Surely there is a time and place for such a threatening tone but, as with any threat, one must remember the idea of proportionality. Saying you will destroy a nation with as many as 65 nuclear weapons — some of which might even be able to kill millions of U.S. citizens, thanks to North Korea’s budding ICBM technology — is not exactly proportional, it’s just plain stupid. 

Yet, if you were looking for someone with true national security experience, someone who has world-class connections that he or she can lean on in a moment of crisis, an expert on issues from North Korea’s nuclear weapons program to Iran’s human rights abuses to the state of U.S.-China relations, Nikki Haley was your pick — if all you wanted was someone who would read talking points.

Unfortunately for the Trump administration, belligerence and diplomacy don’t mix well at the U.N. — and Trump already has taken on that role, for bad or worse. 

So, for all of that, I say good riddance to Nikki Haley at the U.N. 

In all honesty, why did Trump even pick her for the post, considering her lack of experience? The best answer that comes to mind is to heal some of the wounds of the 2016 campaign, by bringing in someone who was certainly no fan of then-candidate Trump. In what feels like a century ago, Haley went so far as to say that Trump was “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president.”

“During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices,” Haley stated when she was governor in 2016. “We must resist that temptation. No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.” 

Too bad for Haley — she became one of the administration’s angriest voices.

My hope is that Haley finds a wonderful new role as the head of a college in South Carolina, or cashes in on K Street, or joins a few Wall Street boards.

But we all know money, even as much as Haley will make in the months to come, can never satisfy ego, and it’s pretty clear Haley has bigger aspirations.

While she did acknowledge, during their joint press event today, that she won’t run in 2020 against President Trump, she has the media chops, the presence and the persona conservative political consultants dream when they scout for a presidential contender. Make no mistake, Haley’s career in politics isn’t over — not by a long shot.

While a presidential run in 2024 is certainly possible — or even in 2028, as Haley is only 46 years of age — would anyone be shocked if she decided to challenge Trump in 2020? Especially if the left comes out in full force after the Supreme Court battle royal that just ended, and Democrats take the House and/or the Senate? Being cheered on by the likes of Bill Kristol, Jennifer Rubin and the whole team of Never-Trump Republicans, the pre-Trump GOP could see Haley as their big chance to take back the reins of power. 

Then there is the completely unconventional prospect, especially if Haley truly is a converted Trump Republican. Imagine a scenario where Trump decides to replace Mike Pence on the 2020 ticket and go with Haley, or she comes back as secretary of State or in another role. Trump did mention the possibility, noting she could have her “pick” of positions. Don’t be shocked if she makes her return to the administration and soon, especially after a potential Trump 2020 win, setting herself up nicely to run for president as his successor.

No matter what happens, we have not seen the last of Nikki Haley.

Harry J. Kazianis (@grecianformula) is director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, founded in 1994 by President Richard M. Nixon, and executive editor of its publishing arm, The National Interest. He previously worked on the foreign policy team of the 2016 Ted Cruz presidential campaign and as foreign policy communications manager at the Heritage Foundation, editor-in-chief of The Diplomat, and as a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The views voiced in this article are his own.

Tags 2020 Ambassador Donald Trump Mike Pence Nikki Haley Ted Cruz United Nations

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