Donald Trump has picked South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday morning to be the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and she has accepted. The nomination will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before Haley replaces Samantha Power, who has held the job since 2013, but easy confirmation seems likely.
After criticism for only naming white men, including a white nationalist, to senior positions, Trump Wednesday offered positions to an Indian American woman and, reportedly, to a black man, Ben Carson, for secretary of housing and urban development.
Haley is an odd choice. Other than participating in some trade delegations as governor, she has basically no foreign policy experience. But given that names like Newt Gingrich, John Bolton, and Rudy Giuliani have been floated for senior foreign policy jobs in the administration, things could be worse.
Along with ongoing crises—from Syria to the Central African Republic to South Sudan—Haley’s new portfolio will include the ongoing global refugee crisis, an issue on which she does have a record, though a mixed one. Haley earned the ire (and a lawsuit) of some anti-refugee lawmakers and activists by backing the efforts of faith groups to settle refugees in her state as part of President Obama’s resettlement plan, but also asked the State Department not to settle any Syrians in South Carolina after the November 2015 Paris terror attacks.
U.N. member states are waiting to see if Trump will follow through on his campaign pledge to “cancel” the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It’s not clear if Haley believes that humans cause climate change, but she has criticized Environmental Protection Agency rules limiting carbon emissions
If Haley is confirmed, she would be replaced as governor by Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, who was the first statewide politician in South Carolina to endorse Trump. One Machiavellian read on this could be that Trump is neutralizing a potential popular rival and critic by bringing her into the fold in a position that’s probably not going to be that much of a priority in his administration. Haley only tepidly and belatedly endorsed Trump after supporting Marco Rubio and then Ted Cruz during the Republican primary. He responded by calling the daughter of Indian immigrants “very, very weak on illegal immigration.” (She is not.)
Haley once called Trump “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president,” and discussing the prospect of a Trump presidency in September 2015, Haley said that Americans “want to know they’re sending someone up to the White House that’s going to be calm and cool-tempered and not get mad at someone just because they criticize him. We would really have a world war if that happens.”
At the time, she probably had little idea that she would soon be partly responsible for implementing that guy’s foreign policy and, perhaps, trying to prevent that war.