It has been a breath of fresh air to observe how the UN Ambassador Nikki Haley (former SC popular Governor) has competently and professionally represented the US national interests while working in her role. She has been the one sole sober voice regarding a realistic assessment of Russia’s place in the world which were an obvious disconnect from the republican President Donald Trump’s rosy unflinching, consistent and frequent rhetoric on Russia. Because her public persona is such an attractive one, she has garnered a ton of positive press which appears to have ruffled the feathers of the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who has shunned the media.
US Secretary Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon CEO has decided that it is time to flex his muscles by demanding that both he and the UN Ambassador represent a united front when discussing U.S. foreign policy. This sounds so reasonable except with this White House where foreign policy is in a constant state of flux.
It has been my personal opinion that Mr. Rex Tillerson may be biased towards the lifting of the 2014 U.S. sanctions against Russia because of its unprovoked incursion into Ukraine to exert control over Crimea, the location of a major Russian naval base. These sanctions have blocked Exxon from acting on a 2012 deal with a Russian oil company worth upwards of $500 billion dollars. Recently, Exxon made a formal request for a waiver from having to abide by these sanctions from the U.S. Department of the Treasury which has been denied.
There now appears to be a conflict of interests between the U.S. Secretary of State and the US United Nations’ Ambassador.
On 4/27/17, Somini Sengupta and Gardiner Harris of the New York Times penned the following report, “State Department Wants to Clear Nikki Haley’s Remarks Before She Speaks.”
“The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, has often been the first, most outspoken member of the Trump administration to weigh in on key foreign policy issues, on everything from military strikes on Syria to sanctions against Russia and how to approach human rights.”
“Much of that has come as a surprise to the State Department, and the Secretary of State, Rex W. Tillerson, has often been far from the limelight.”
“Now, in an apparent attempt to foster greater coherence in American foreign policy, State Department officials are urging her aides to ensure her public remarks are cleared by Washington first.”
“An email drafted by State Department diplomats urged Ms. Haley’s office to rely on “building blocks” written by the department to prepare her remarks.”
“Her comments should be “re-cleared with Washington if they are substantively different from the building blocks, or if they are on a high-profile issue such as Syria, Iran, Israel-Palestine, or the D.P.R.K.,” added the email, the text of which was seen by The Times. D.P.R.K. refers to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea.”
“The request underlines the vastly contrasting styles of the Trump administration’s two top diplomats, Ms. Haley and Mr. Tillerson, who will appear together for the first time on Friday at a United Nations Security Council meeting devoted to North Korea. It will be Mr. Tillerson’s first time inserting himself into Ms. Haley’s world since she so publicly entered his.”
“Ms. Haley is an out-spoken former governor who has been on Sunday talk shows and given interviews to several television news outlets. Mr. Tillerson is a former oil company executive who has kept a noticeable low profile.”
“The contrast was on sharp display when Ms. Haley chaperoned the 14 members of the Security Council on a visit to the White House on Monday (4/24/17). Neither Mr. Tillerson nor any of his aides were present, with a spokesman explaining that his schedule “did not enable him to participate.”
“Mr. Tillerson has skipped meetings with world leaders at the White House too, though he continues to spend considerable time with President Trump. His defenders say that Mr. Tillerson is confident of the president’s support and that Mr. Tillerson does not believe he needs to appear in front of reporters or TV cameras to confirm his place as the nation’s chief diplomat.”
“Any notion that there’s some kind of competition between Haley and Tillerson is laughable,” said James J. Carafano, a Heritage Foundation fellow and a member of the Trump transition team. “She’s filling a role and is comfortable in that role, and I don’t think Tillerson feels threatened by that.”
“Ms. Haley has by no means replaced Mr. Tillerson as the administration’s preferred voice on foreign affairs, according to a top White House aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Indeed, some in the White House see her as seeking a bit too much attention as the administration formulates its foreign policy, the official said, noting that it is not seen as a problem that needs an immediate solution. The White House is riven by feuds, with various cabinet members vying for prominence, and while Mr. Trump has a business-centric reverence for Mr. Tillerson, he is said to like Ms. Haley.”
“There was a hint of that tension on Monday (4/24/17) during the White House lunch for the Security Council diplomats.”
“Now, does everybody like Nikki?” the president asked his lunch guests. “Because if you don’t, otherwise, she can easily be replaced.”
“No, we won’t do that, I promise,” the president said. “She’s doing a fantastic job.”
“That evening came praise from the president’s daughter Ivanka.”
“On Twitter, she posted a photograph of Ms. Haley surrounded by the Security Council diplomats and wrote: “The world is in good hands under her leadership.”
“While Ms. Haley is a cabinet-level official and within the State Department’s hierarchy, she would normally have four bosses, including an assistant secretary for international organizations who coordinates between New York and Washington. That role is currently filled in a temporary capacity by a career foreign service officer.”
“The White House visit Monday included a 90-minute lunch with Mr. Trump and photos in the Oval Office, along with a meeting with the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.”
“One Security Council diplomat who was not authorized to speak about the meeting said it seemed to be designed to show Ms. Haley’s centrality in the administration and her closeness to the president. She had not only taken charge of determining what the administration’s posture would be at the United Nations, but expanded her portfolio broadly, the diplomat observed, on a range of foreign policy issues.”
“It was all the more remarkable because during the presidential campaign, Ms. Haley was one of Mr. Trump’s most outspoken Republican critics.”
“Friction between the secretary of state and the United Nations ambassador is routine, particularly when the ambassador is a politician.”
“Thomas Pickering, a United Nations ambassador under President George H. W. Bush, said the relationship with Washington was always a challenge during his tenure. One constant problem for him, he said, was that Washington created the day’s talking points around 11 a.m. but Security Council meetings usually started around 9:45 a.m., an event that was often preceded by a press briefing.”
“So I had to work off the guidance from the day before or get out in front of Washington,” he said.”
“In the end, Mr. Pickering learned that he had lost his job at the United Nations from a story in The Washington Post. “So clearly the relationship is not always easy,” he said with a laugh.”