The United Nations has never faced a U.S. ambassador like Nikki Haley.
The former South Carolina governor has carved out a blazing trail during her time as President Trump’s U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; not that she would have earned any accolades with a mainstream media that only awards plaudits according to party ticket.
On Thursday, Ambassador Haley once again had to face her colleagues at the UN. Instead of imploring them to do something about existential threats to the international order like Iran and North Korea, this time, she had to call them out for their arrogance and hypocrisy.
The occasion at the UN for Haley to speak was the dumbfounding backlash over the Trump administration’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
On December 6, President Trump issued the decree, which he called “long overdue.”
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”
It was not without a bevy of caterwauling from the international community. As the New York Times breathlessly editorialized in a story, “Defying Trump, U.N. General Assembly Condemns U.S. Decree on Jerusalem”:
A lopsided majority of United Nations members rebuked the United States on Thursday, denouncing its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ignoring President Trump’s threats to retaliate by cutting aid to countries voting against it.
In a collective act of defiance toward Washington, the United Nations General Assembly voted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, for a resolution demanding that the United States rescind its Dec. 6 declaration on Jerusalem, the contested holy city.
To wit, the United Nations, like it resides in an alternate reality, called the U.S. decision “null and void.”
BREAKING: UN General Assembly votes 128-9 to declare US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital `null and void'
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 21, 2017
Nikki Haley, as if channeling her inner Samuel Jackson and asking if she might be “allowed to retort,” took the UN to the mat during the General Assembly, with a stemwinder of a speech worth recounting.
“America will put our embassy in #Jerusalem…No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that. But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the @UN, and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN.” pic.twitter.com/N6lpXjKFF4
— US Mission to the UN (@USUN) December 21, 2017
“America will put our embassy in Jerusalem…No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that. But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN, and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN.”
There’s more. The following is how Ms. Haley opened her scathing speech to the UN:
To its shame, the United Nations has long been a hostile place for the state of Israel. Both the current and the previous Secretary-Generals have objected to the UN’s disproportionate focus on Israel. It’s a wrong that undermines the credibility of this institution, and that in turn is harmful for the entire world.
I’ve often wondered why, in the face of such hostility, Israel has chosen to remain a member of this body. And then I remember that Israel has chosen to remain in this institution because it’s important to stand up for yourself. Israel must stand up for its own survival as a nation; but it also stands up for the ideals of freedom and human dignity that the United Nations is supposed to be about.
The ambassador has been increasingly emboldened by a UN hostile to any show of U.S. camaraderie with its Middle Eastern ally Israel. The tiny Jewish state has provided the pretext for many-a-grandstanding-lecture at the UN: Out of the 193 member states in the global debating society, approximately 50 are Muslim majority nations.
The ramifications of this cocktail-napkin math is that one out of every four nations in the UN has a majority of citizens who are fundamentally opposed to the recognition of Jerusalem, let alone the existence of Israel, primarily on ethno-religious grounds.
As for the rest of the countries who threw in lot to condemn the United States’ recognition of Israel’s capital – the fulfillment of a 1995 law that required the US to move its capital to Jerusalem – the only explanation is a deep-seated hostility the organization has had historically to the sheer existence of the democratic and capitalist nation, which is neighbored by dictatorial regimes and terror-states.
Ambassador Haley continued:
Standing here today, being forced to defend sovereignty and the integrity of my country – the United States of America – many of the same thoughts have come to mind. The United States is by far the single largest contributor to the United Nations and its agencies. We do this, in part, in order to advance our values and our interests. When that happens, our participation in the UN produces great good for the world. Together we feed, clothe, and educate desperate people. We nurture and sustain fragile peace in conflict areas throughout the world. And we hold outlaw regimes accountable. We do this because it represents who we are. It is our American way.
But we’ll be honest with you. When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our good will is recognized and respected. When a nation is singled out for attack in this organization, that nation is disrespected. What’s more, that nation is asked to pay for the “privilege” of being disrespected.
In the case of the United States, we are asked to pay more than anyone else for that dubious privilege. Unlike in some UN member countries, the United States government is answerable to its people. As such, we have an obligation to acknowledge when our political and financial capital is being poorly spent.
We have an obligation to demand more for our investment. And if our investment fails, we have an obligation to spend our resources in more productive ways. Those are the thoughts that come to mind when we consider the resolution before us today.
The Ambassador has been busy of late rebutting those who would have the United States carry out a prostrate foreign policy before the UN like Trump’s predecessor and would entirely abandon its ally Israel.
On Wednesday, Haley had a simply rebuttal for a senior Muslim diplomat who had the gall to complain about the U.S.’s “blatant bullying.”
Actually it is when a country is tired of being taken for granted.
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) December 20, 2017
Nikki Haley is so vociferous in her defense of tiny states like Israel, almost certainly because she also knows something about having to stand up to bullies like the United Nations itself.
When you need the UN to actually do something about actual dangerous regimes, like Iran and North Korea, all you will receive from the Security Council are blank stares. When dictatorial nations like Russia and China have a veto over collective action, and the body itself is brimming with banana republics and tinpot dictatorships, we cannot expect much in the way of leadership.
It appears we cannot expect basic dignity or respect either.
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