There are plenty of juicy theories about the real reason Nikki Haley suddenly stepped down from her perch as UN Ambassador, but my favorite is the one that has her authoring the anonymous New York Times op ed by an alleged administration insider claiming that “the adults in the room” were busy undermining the President’s worst impulses, like getting us out of unnecessary foreign entanglements.
Leaving aside her nasty pre-nomination digs at Trump, the two clashed repeatedly in public during her tenure. When Haley announced in April that new sanctions would be imposed on Russia, the White House told reporters that she was subject to a “momentary confusion.” “With all due respect,” she snapped, “I don’t get confused.” Yet she was apparently setting her own policy when it came to Ukraine, NATO, and North Korea, all areas where she diverged from the President’s “America First” agenda.
With her accounting degree from Clemson University, and her seeming inability to utter phrases that deviate from Republican foreign policy orthodoxy, circa 2003, we told our readers from the beginning that Haley was a lightweight and warmongering globalist. Her fatal error, I believe, was her inability to understand that her job, UN Ambassador, is symbolic and ceremonial.
I’ll not make any nominations from the peanut gallery: I’ll just say that, when it comes to foreign policy, the America Firster bench is rather thin. Indeed, it’s almost nonexistent. That’s because prominent figures in the academic and thinktank world who claim to be anti-interventionists have chosen to distance themselves from this administration, in many cases viciously opposing it – despite Trump’s peace initiatives on several fronts. They would rather virtue-signal from the outside than make a real difference on the inside.
That’s the reason for the “two-track” foreign policy syndrome that has bedeviled this administration: the President and his immediate circle can only do so much. Without the support of the bureaucracy, their much-touted “revolutionary” policies will never be put into practice.
As election time rolls around, the pundits are wondering – yet again – if this latest personnel change doesn’t signal doom for an administration routinely described as being “in disarray.” And quite naturally all the NeverTrumpers are hailing Haley for her alleged “integrity” and her fake “adult-in-the-room” persona, while Bill Kristol hopes to see her challenge her former boss in the GOP presidential primary (despite her promise to go into the private sector).
Yet election season is a time to harden up the base, and Haley was never popular with those folks. I don’t see any real enthusiasm for a single major figure in this administration, at least not from Trump’s voters. That goes for the whole foreign policy team, starting with former Koch apparatchik Mike Pompeo.
Just as Haley spent her time actively undermining the President’s efforts to reach an historic accord with Russia, so our Secretary of State has been a stumbling block on the road to peace on the Korean peninsula. His latest complaint: the two Koreas are moving to demilitarize too fast. Yet the sequel to the first Singapore Summit is on the calendar, and letters fly back and forth between Kim Jong-un and Trump, whose joint determination to make this breakthrough for peace might just be enough to make it happen.
One good development: Kim has replaced dour old hardliner Kim Yong Chol – described as abrasive – with his sister, the young and mysterious Kim Yo-yong, whose modern look and studied poise captivated the South Koreans and the Western media.
While the “experts” continue to predict disaster around every corner – and make no mistake, these people are pure partisans – I continue to see continued progress for peace on every front. Yes, even the weak underbelly of this administration’s foreign policy, its one-sided and costly alliance with Saudi Arabia, seems to be meeting its natural end. While the atrocities perpetrated by Riyadh accumulate by the day, the disappearance and probable murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of a Saudi hit squad may be the final blow that brings down that particular house of cards.
In short, the trend is moving in our direction – toward a new foreign policy for America, one that functions to protect the people of this country rather than police the world. Go not abroad in search of monsters to destroy: that’s the actual meaning of “America First,” no matter what reinterpretations some politicians may put on it. It’s the foreign policy of the founders of this country, which we’ve been updating and promoting for over 20 years.
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NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.