The Spooky Love for Nikki Haley

M2D Newsletter 10/26

Good Morning, Subscriber, and Happy Halloween-ish Weekend,

I hope you have some crrreepy, spooky plans in store. Personally, I am debating between dressing up as Binx, the immortal black cat from Hocus Pocus, or a cave-dwelling-former-hobbit crossed with a journalist at the German publication Der Spiegel.

Now, I’d forgive you for being concerned if you came across Der Smeagol on Saturday night. Why is a grown human wearing lederhosen and clenching a wriggling carp in his teeth? But here’s an even more alarming question: Why are people so amped about Nikki Haley’s job as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.?

A poll in April found that 63% of people approved of her performance, and of five Trump Cabinet members studied, she was the only one to hold majority approval among Democrats, Republicans and independents. Last week, after Haley announced her resignation as ambassador, effective at the end of the year, she played off rumors that she’d run for president in 2020. Um, say what? Haley may be a more appealing candidate than her gremlin colleagues…

…but that doesn’t mean she’d be a good president, or even that she’s been a good ambassador. In the spirit of Binx, I shall endeavor to add perspective, beginning with five letters: MEOWW — whoops, I meant UNRWA.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides health care, food, and education to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. The U.S. has long been the biggest donor to the agency, pledging around one-third of the agency’s annual $1.1 billion budget, but in August, the Trump administration announced it will cut all U.S. funding for UNRWA. The move has potentially devastating consequences for five million people who rely on UNRWA’s schools, healthcare, and social services. Five. Million. People.

Regardless of your politics, five million is a cauldron load of people. I want my U.N. Ambassador to advocate for the extension of their assistance, or at least propose a viable alternative. Haley, not so much. She was a key advocate of the cuts, intended to pressure Palestinians to comply with Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace plan (which has yet to be unveiled, much like my five-year plan). When asked whether the right of return should be “off the table,” Haley replied: “I do agree with that, and I think we have to look at this in terms of what’s happening (with refugees) in Syria, what’s happening in Venezuela.”

Oh right: Syrians and Venezuelans, other peeps my U.N. Ambassador would, in theory, try to assist. In August, Haley pledged $9 million in aid to Venezuelan refugees in Colombia, a token gesture akin to giving trick-or-treaters apple slices, and added that, “At some point [Venezuelan President] Maduro is gonna have to be dealt with,” perpetuating the pro-intervention mentality that has led to cycles of destabilization and forced migration from Latin American countries.

Nikki Haley seems like a good candidate by comparison.
(Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)

And when Haley visited Syrian refugee camps in May 2017, she said, “How do we make sure that during this time of crisis we’re doing all we can to keep them comfortable; keep their families together, and then make sure that we can send them back home? That’s why I’m here. To make sure we’re doing everything that the U.S. can possibly do on the ground that we love our Syrian brothers and sisters. We’re doing everything we can to bring stability to this area at least until we can help them get home.”

The Hocus Pocus hodgepodgerie of double standards in this statement makes my blood boil. Haley wants to keep families together? Yes, so long as it means they stay far away from us. We’re doing everything we can to stabilize “this area”? Not according to peeps like R. David Harden, a former official at the United States Agency for International Development, who said cutting aid to UNRWA “has a very high risk of unsettling the region.”

My point is, Haley may see Syrian and other people around the world as her “brothers and sisters,” but I’m not sure they would say the same of her — and I don’t think we should either.