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Nikki Haley addresses global governance in talk at Duke


After former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and known UN-skeptic John Bolton was named President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Nikki Haley was asked if Bolton would step on her toes.

“I know John Bolton well, I’ve gotten advice from him, I’ve talked to him, I know his disdain for the UN — I share it,” said Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, in a talk at Duke University Thursday night.

“Russia is never going to be our friend — but having said that, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to work with them. We work with them when we need to and we slap them when we need to,” she said. “This president has actually done more against Russia than any president since Reagan.” 

Stephen Gent, a UNC political science professor focusing on international relations, said Haley replaced a more experienced Samantha Power.

“Nikki Haley, before this, was governor of South Carolina, so her main interest was state-level politics,” he said. “(Power) has had more foreign policy experience than Nikki Haley. Traditionally, the UN ambassador has been someone who has tended to have more previous foreign policy experience.”

Gent said any U.S. ambassador to the UN derives their policies from the current presidential administration, and the Trump administration’s changes in policy are noticeable. The administration is more distrustful of multilateral institutions like the UN or World Trade Organization and has shifted towards more bilateral agreements than multilateral ones.

“If she made decisions that were counter to the president’s positions, she would be out of a job,” he said. “What’s her decision to make is basically: how do you negotiate with the other people at the UN to get what the United States wants.”

Haley defended the president’s choice to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“Yes, everybody — there were multiple people who came to him and said the sky was gonna fall, like they told many presidents before — it’s still up there,” she said. 

Gent said America’s foreign policy does not wildly swing like domestic politics often do, especially recently.

"We are seeing a lot of shifts right now in terms of protectionist policies and skepticism of international institutions," he said. "But based on the aggregate, if you look at the foreign policy in the Bush administration and into the Obama administration, the Obama administration was not as different as you might think given the different ideology of the two presidents.”

Gent said the Trump administration’s foreign policy decisions, while not permanent, will certainly have lingering impacts.

“Once policy decisions have been made, it can often be hard to shift them,” he said.

Haley urged her audience to remember the clear divide between political opponents and evil regimes.

“Your political opponents are not your enemies, and they are not evil,” she said. “They’re just opponents. Take it from me, there’s a big difference.”


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