Haley’s comet lit up a dismal UN

Haley’s comet lit up a dismal UN
© Getty Images

Like Halley’s Comet stunning the world every 75 years, Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Nikki Haley warns Republicans on China: 'If they take Taiwan, it's all over' Pence slams Biden agenda in New Hampshire speech MORE appeared early on Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE’s horizon. As the Administration’s rising-star, she was the brightest of the political constellation. She arrived, dazzled, delivered - and will be back.

Free to speak her mind on the issues of the day as U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, she served U.S. interests well following years of relative darkness and void at the United Nations. And her luster helped the United Nations register higher on Washington’s radar.


When she was nominated, the critics trash-talked her innocence abroad. So, what did she do? She took the trash to the curb, and then got down to work. Her appeal has not waivered since.

At the United Nations, she acknowledged that “international diplomacy is a new area for me.” She knew that “the U.N. could benefit from a fresh set of eyes.”

And a jolt.

The U.N. quickly saw that Haley would call foul when the play wasn’t fair. And Washington suddenly realized that Haley didn’t need a third base coach.

Clearing the decks of mistakes like the Iran deal enabled maximum pressure campaigns that are taken seriously. In persuading Russia and China to sanction North Korea, Haley earned the President’s respect and his ear. For other U.N. ambassadors and their bosses, she rose as an intercessor with the Oval Office. Because of this the President now invests days, no longer merely hours, working the U.N. corridors and smoke-filled rooms when in New York.

Altogether, Haley did more to raise the U.N.’s stock as a relevant and worthwhile multilateral platform than anyone in recent memory. One would have to go back to Justice Arthur Goldberg who in 1965 voluntarily resigned his life-term seat on the U.S. Supreme Court to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; such was the stock of U.S. participation at the world body until recently.

Nikki Haley’s surprise resignation is a smart way to end a jam-packed Act I, given that Act II often finds us nodding off to sleep. Her reason for stepping down? Term limits. And said believably. As Governor in 2010 she proposed term limits on state representatives: “Term limits… are simply a recognition of the reality that public service is a demanding endeavor” and we are best served when bolstered by new members. And the line is forming quickly for her super-sized ambassadorship.

Thankfully, Ambassador Nikki Haley was no effete internationalista. Rather, she was a down-to-earth, open-eyed manager with a record for moving on today’s opportunities while staying ahead of its risks. She was the all-the-better choice for making America great again at the United Nations. 

Near or far, her appeal will continue – perhaps one day more North Star than comet?

Hugh Dugan served as U.S. Delegate to the United Nations advising eleven U.S. Ambassadors from 1989 to 2015. He is Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations. Follow him on Twitter @ProfHughDugan