Nikki Ha­ley will be missed when she leaves her po­si­tion as U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST -

Nikki Ha­ley will be missed when she leaves her post as U.S. Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the United Na­tions. The ques­tion is whether Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and the per­son he chooses to suc­ceed her, can learn from her hits and misses over the past two years, and safe­guard U.S. lead­er­ship at an in­sti­tu­tion that, for all its flaws, re­mains in­dis­pens­able.

Proof of Ha­ley’s po­lit­i­cal acu­men is that she leaves the job with her rep­u­ta­tion not just in­tact but bur­nished. The same can­not be said of Trump’s other de­parted top­level ap­pointees, not to men­tion nu­mer­ous other di­min­ished mem­bers of his na­tional se­cu­rity team.

Though Ha­ley was a for­eign­pol­icy novice, her po­lit­i­cal skills yielded big wins. She se­cured Chi­nese sup­port for strong sanc­tions on North Korea. She also cul­ti­vated good re­la­tions with U.N. Sec­re­tary­Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res, yield­ing use­ful U.N. re­forms and di­rect­ing at­ten­tion to the weaknesses and abuses of UN peace­keep­ers. She got high marks for fo­cus­ing on trou­ble spots in Africa such as South Su­dan, where she per­suaded China to go along with an arms em­bargo. And she force­fully ad­dressed the UN’s per­sis­tent anti­Is­rael bias.

She also man­aged to hold at bay some of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s worst in­stincts ­ keep­ing a spot­light on Rus­sia’s bad be­hav­ior in Syria and Ukraine, de­spite Trump’s re­luc­tance. Sadly, she could not pre­vail against the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s cruel de­ci­sion to slash the num­ber of refugees ad­mit­ted to the U.S.

If Ha­ley’s back­room pol­i­tics were of­ten suc­cess­ful, her pub­lic threats that the U.S. would be “tak­ing names” of those who failed to sup­port it were less so. The os­ten­ta­tious U.S. with­drawal from sev­eral U.N. bod­ies may have played well to a do­mes­tic au­di­ence, but it did lit­tle to make the U.N. more ef­fec­tive. Up to a point, U.S. com­plaints about the U.N.’s mis­man­age­ment and cor­rup­tion are jus­ti­fied, but en­gage­ment, not with­drawal, is the best way to fix this.

Trump is un­likely to nom­i­nate a suc­ces­sor whose loy­alty is sus­pect, or who is in­tent on re­strain­ing his in­stincts. So it will fall to the Se­nate, in con­firm­ing the ap­point­ment, to en­sure that the next am­bas­sador rec­og­nizes the U.N.’s enor­mous po­ten­tial to ad­vance U.S. in­ter­ests and has the skills and tem­per­a­ment re­quired.

Next year, just as Ha­ley leaves her job, Ger­many, Indonesia and South Africa will join the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. This could be a cru­cial mo­ment for the in­sti­tu­tion — a fresh op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress threats such as the spread of nu­clear weapons, climate change, global pan­demics, and hu­man­i­tar­ian crises. The U.S. and the world need a suc­ces­sor to Ha­ley who’s up to the chal­lenge. Mem­bers of The Den­ver Post’s ed­i­to­rial board are Me­gan Schrader, ed­i­tor of the ed­i­to­rial pages; Lee Ann Co­la­cioppo, ed­i­tor; Justin Mock, CFO; Bill Reynolds, vice pres­i­dent of cir­cu­la­tion and pro­duc­tion; Bob Kin­ney, vice pres­i­dent of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy; and TJ Hutchin­son, sys­tems ed­i­tor.

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