The US media outlet Politico has published claims based on internal White House leaks, which report that the controversial US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is the author of Trump’s anti-JCPOA and broader anti-Iran policies, which were conveyed in his speech form the White House, yesterday evening.
Haley is known to be among the most hardened neo-cons in the Trump administration, with strong ties to the anti-Iranian American Israel lobby. Her role as US Ambassador has been far more public than that of most of her predecessors. Many, including myself, suspect that Haley who has no previous foreign policy experience, is using her position at the UN to promote a future entry into elected politics at a Federal level.
According to Politico, in July of this year, Trump grudgingly certified the JCPOA under advice from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis. However, at the time, Haley was said to have volunteered to author an argument which could be employed in the future, which would attempt to justify a US de-certification of the JCPOA.
“At a mid-day meeting in the Oval Office in late July, U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley came to President Donald Trump with an offer.
Trump had grudgingly declared Tehran in compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal earlier in the month, at the urging of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defence James Mattis. Trump hated the deal. But the two men pushed him to certify it, arguing in part that he lacked a strong case for declaring Iran in violation. A refusal to do so would have looked rash, they said, convincing Trump sign off for another 90 days.
‘Let me lay a foundation for it’, she said, according a source familiar with the proceedings. The president agreed.
Haley would become the administration’s most vocal public proponent of decertification—and Trump’s favourite internal voice on Iran—further boosting her standing with the president at a time when she is seen as a potential successor to Tillerson, whose tense relationship with Trump has burst into the open in recent days.
A month after her talk with Trump, Haley flew to Vienna to visit the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Association, where she pressed officials about Iranian compliance with the deal. Soon after, she delivered a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., airing her “doubts and concerns” about the agreement.
Haley’s role was described by a half-dozen administration officials who took part in the Iran policy review. While many of the president’s cabinet members, aides, and advisers work to restrain his impulses, when it came to Iran deal Haley did the opposite—channeling what many Democrats and even some Republicans consider the president’s destructive instincts into policy”.
The story from Politico which also argues that arch neo-con John Bolton pushed for a full withdrawal from the JCPOA from his position outside of the White House, follows may well known trends. This helps explain why Mattis recently stated that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA and why Rex Tilleron’s State Department has officially said the same.
Nikki Haley has often defied the moderate voice of Rex Tillerson and even James “Mad Dog” Mattis on a number of issues. Haley for example has repeatedly said that ‘Assad must go’, while Tillerson and Mattis have been far more realistic about the fact that President Assad will in all likelihood, continue to govern Syria for the foreseeable future.
She has also echoed Donald Trump’s aggressive statements about North Korea, whereas Rex Tillerson has often repeated his view that the US does not and should not seek regime change in Pyongyang and instead will continue to pursue a diplomatic process.
Nikki Haley also famously said that Russians cannot be trusted, while Rex Tillerson has worked closely (albeit usually through phone calls rather than grandiose public meetings) with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and was seen as instrumental in creating the joint Russian-US-Jordanian de-escalation zone in south western Syria.
At one point, Rex Tillerson was said to have privately reprimanded Haley for inventing her own foreign policy without consulting her superiors at the State Department. However, it seems that in respect of Iran, Trump has overruled Tillerson and allowed Haley to take charge.
Haley later told journalists that she was offered the position of Secretary of State but turned it down, before being offered the position of Ambassador to the UN. Haley further attested that she sent Trump a list of demands that she never expected to be agreed upon, as a precondition for accepting her current position.
Haley who has long been seen as a rogue figure in the Trump administration and one who is widely exceeding her authority, is apparently doing so with Donald Trump’s approval.
With rumours swirling that Rex Tillerson planned on resigning, even before it emerged that he allegedly called Trump a “fucking moron”, there is now an increased possibility that a hyper-neo-con, might soon become the chief foreign policy maker in a Trump administration that was elected on the basis of opposing the neo-con ideology.
With many Trump administration officials coming and going in short order, there is a very worrying possibility that Nikki Haley’s role will only be enhanced in future months. This is dangerous not only for the United States, but for the wider world. Haley’s inexperience is only matched by her zeal for bellicose measures against countries which have not done any harm to the American people. Such a person should not be anywhere near power, but it seems as though she has Trump’s ear, far more than the vastly more mature Tillerson and Mattis.