A Farewell to Ambassador Nikki Haley


Will Ambassador Haley be missed? Writing in The Intercept, Mehdi Hasan says she was no moderate. Zak Cheney-Rice calls her the “GOP’s Doomed Flirtation with Racial Inclusiveness” and an olive branch to build support among non-white groups. And former UN ambassador  Bill Richardson believes Haley’s statement that she needed a break to be with family–but added “its probably the best job in the administration.”

At the same time, the NYT Editorial Board lays out a balanced case but overall says yes, she managed to hold her own with Rex Tillerson as well as Larry Kudlow, who apologized for his mistake.

While Mr. Trump’s America First policy is a harsh rejection of multilateralism, many United Nations diplomats valued Ms. Haley as a pragmatic envoy who could explain the president to a world confused by the chaos in Washington. She also developed a good relationship with António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, and helped avoid what could have been a breakdown between the United States and the United Nations.

She protected some of the American investment in the United Nations against the most drastic budget cuts sought by the White House, while also working to reform the United Nations bureaucracy, a longtime American bipartisan goal and also a priority for Mr. Guterres. She also managed the effort to pass tough new sanctions on North Korea.

via Opinion | Nikki Haley Will Be Missed – The New York Times

Called “one of the most visible fades of the Trump administration’s foreign policy” Haley lobbied, advocated, communicated, and raised her profile, without a doubt. Now she has resigned.

The French Ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre was quoted in the WSJ as noting her “exceptional political instincts and skills” in bureaucracy-busting moves where she “put the finger right away on the two key questions that nobody wanted to address.”

One part of her legacy may be her “authoritarian approach” playing hardball in working to reform the Human Rights Council. Colum Lynch explains how the US failed to make any progress in Geneva and alienated major NGO groups in an effort to block what many consider to be the groups major weakness in electing countries with poor track records.

Meanwhile, names are being floated as successors: Dina Powell, Richard Grenell, Jon Huntsman, Heather Nauert, Sen. Joe Lieberman but Robbie Gramer reports that her successor will have a hard time measuring up to her impact due to the power vacuum that has been filled by Sec State Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Trumpian Diplomacy in the Middle East

Is the way forward one of truly preserving options? Not according to Dana Allin and Steven Simon, whose analysis of the punitive approach taken by the Trump Administration explains its errors.

In this way, Mr. Trump’s advisers are not checking but clarifying and amplifying the president’s radically misguided approach to diplomacy: that it is about sticks and rarely carrots, that every negotiation is zero sum and that trust is dangerously naïve. (Of course, the administration is not applying sticks to everyone — by stacking the deck in Israel’s favor, it is making sure that the Palestinians have no choice but to accept an outcome determined by Jerusalem.)

This theory of diplomacy-as-coercion is clear enough and probably has its appeal for people unversed in the intricacies of international peace negotiations. But problems will arise when the Palestinians do not react in the docile manner that administration officials somehow expect

Via “Coercion is not Diplomacy

Behavioral Economics Research Insights that Can Make Diplomacy Better

As Jason Zweig writes, self-deception is a barrier to good investing. We can learn a few things from his summary of 20 years of reading the research, including the following:

  • How conformation bias leads us to find supporting evidence, not contrary views
  • The tendency to not look historically or long-term
  • On hidden biases we all possess, as well as “status quo,” “blind spot,” and “anchoring”
  • Overconfidence in rating our own abilities and judgements.

One takeaway? We aren’t as rational as we think–and need to do more hard thinking to understand ourselves and those with whom we negotiate.

Via “That Cocky Voice in Your Head Is Wrong – WSJ

When Hominems Attack

Make big your case requires a mastery of rhetoric. The author of a college textbook, a humanities professor who know his way around logos, ethos, and pathos, explains:

I don’t usually muddy these waters in freshman composition, but the fact is that ad hominem arguments are very often the best and most logical responses to another person’s claims. This is true because most arguers place their own character, expertise, or credibility at issue when they make a claim. If somebody supports an argument with a pro hominem argument (which we normally call an “appeal to authority”) then the ad hominem argument becomes both a necessary and a proper response.


Decolonization’s Dilemma in Questions of National Identity

In a strange reversal of what was thought to be a process leading to new national self-determination and stability, Israel faces a modern dilemma: to be democratic or Jewish.

The modern era endowed countries with two rights, supposedly unassailable, that turned out to exist in tension. The right of national self-determination envisioned states as unified collectives; one nation for one people. And the right of democracy prescribed equal participation for all, including in defining the nation’s character.

Idealistic world leaders who set out those rights a century ago imagined countries that would be internally homogeneous and static. But reality has proved messier. Borders do not perfectly align with populations. People move. Identities shift or evolve. What then?