During the early 1970s, Henry Kissinger became emblematic of a US foreign policy establishment that was conniving, cunning and content with its own penchant for lawlessness. By the late 1970s, Zbigniew Brzezinski became the face of the next generation of the US establishment – a man who could easily provide the pseudo-intellectual justification to back every fringe, extremist group in the world, so long as “the enemy” would ultimately suffer as a result.
From the Reagan era up to the Bush era there was no single figure who encapsulated the views, desires and methods of the establishment and in the Obama era, Hillary Clinton became a familiar face whose overall lust for political control just happened to be placed in the State Department.
Today, the US once again has a single figure who represents everything that the current generation of US foreign policy elite want and much to the horror of the wider world, this person is Nikki Haley. While the position of Ambassador to the UN is often one that is hardly visible to the domestic US audience, Haley has taken it upon herself to be incredibly visible. During the tenure of Donald Trump’s first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, Haley was vastly more visible than the soft spoken putative foreign policy chief who was humiliatingly ousted by Donald Trump via Twitter. Even today with the more boisterous Mike Pompeo “in charge” Haley remains the go-to person for interviews on US foreign policy, all the while using the UN as a bully pulpit for personal grandstanding rather than for anything remotely representing traditional diplomacy.
In this sense, in spite of her titular status, Haley is not a diplomat at all but rather an irrepressible spokeswoman for what the American foreign policy elites want in the 21st century. Haley is thus the perfect representative of US foreign policy because in a single individual, she represents everything wrong with the United States in an objective sense, while perversely representing everything the ruling elite of the US actually want.
Haley’s manner of speech is casual to the point of being nauseating, yet it is unambiguous in its platitudes regarding America’s self-proclaimed superiority over international law, the institutions of the United Nations and every other country of the world, both US allies and especially US enemies. Of course, the only country that Haley awards a status as important if not more important to that of the US is “Israel”, while she reserves for Russia, Iran, the DPRK, China and members of the Arab world a particularly personal ire. This is in keeping with a modern US establishment that views even the act of going through the motions and attempting to look balanced on the Palestine crisis as somehow “un-American”. In this sense, the interests of Tel Aviv are not only bound-up with the interests of the US but are in fact one of the very reasons the US continues to participate in UN Security Council meetings.
Just yesterday, when the US stood alone in the entire Security Council in voting down a resolution calling for a probe into “Israeli” war crimes in Gaza, she proudly vetoed the measure before stating,
“Further proof was not needed, but it is now completely clear that the UN is hopelessly biased against ‘Israel’. Further proof was not needed, but it is now completely clear that the UN is hopelessly biased against ‘Israel”.
In other words, that which for the rest of the world, including America’s EU allies is an overly biased obstructionist technique, is for Haley a kind of crusade to prevent the UN Security Council from ever standing up for Palestine through the disproportional wielding of the US veto.
Unlike Trump who is the establishment’s anti-establishment playboy rogue, Haley is the face of the front-line establishment. This is the reason why so many in Washington will be pushing for an early Trump retirement and a Haley run for the Presidency. Haley fulfils all the crucial criteria for the establishment in ways that are even more all-encompassing than foreign policy “specialists” of previous generations like Kissinger and Brzezinski whose mannerisms remained all too “foreign” to even attempt a run for the Presidency, even if the US constitution allowed naturalised citizens such a right.
Haley is the perfect mix of foreign and domestic both in terms of the policies she brazenly advocates for and her personal background. While Haley was born in the US and has adopted most of the colloquial mannerisms of the typical white anglo-saxon protestant, she nevertheless was born to two Indian Sikh academics. In this sense, Haley’s willingness to transform herself from into the archetypal “ugly American” while not even having the traditional ‘WASP’ background that is typically obligatory for such ugly Americans, is considered an achievement rather than a personal act of shame and betrayal in the eyes of the existing elite.
The progress of Haley’s political career furthermore appears to be more the product of unbridled ambition than actual talent and this too is fitting with an increasingly vacuous culture that tends to value malignant persistence over anything resembling quality, craftsmanship or genuine intellect. To this end, Haley must certainly be ‘hard-working’ but not so much that she isn’t apt to complain about having to work too much – all while blaming foreign powers for her work load as if there was some conspiracy to create global conflict so as to remove Haley from her bed. This also is clearly a means of appealing to the notion that Haley is “every man and every woman’s diplomat” even though in most cultures, the qualities needed to be an actual diplomat are necessarily extraordinary. Thus, Haley revels in mediocrity while disguising it as a means of climbing the ladder of meritocracy.
Haley’s brazen disregard for normal diplomatic protocol is in the eyes of the establishment not a vice which is a sign of childish inexperience and a personal penchant for contrived hysteria, but rather a sign that the US is “too good” to play by the rules which everyone else (except “Israel”) is bound by. Here too, universal vices are in the context of the American establishment, turned instantly into perverse virtues.
Because of this, Haley is far more dangerous than either Kissinger or Brzezinski because while the ideas of Kissinger and Brzezinski represented the signposts of the direction in which the American foreign policy establishment were heading, Haley represents a one-woman encapsulation of the establishment itself: calculating in its capriciousness, dignified by its own supreme arrogance, proud of its own intellectual and ethical shortcomings, filled with grandiose grievances over petty personal minutiae and an ignominious arrogance that brings disgrace upon the institution most representative of international law.
Nikki Haley is the penultimate embodiment of the American dream in the 21st century. She is a woman who stubbornly refuses to wake up to the reality of the contemporary world as if in a daze. To put it another way, Haley’s version of the “American dream” is a living nightmare for the rest of the world.