It’s unclear whether she is speaking for herself or the White House.

By Philip Giraldi
July 7, 2017
The American Conservative

I went to a meeting the other night with some Donald Trump supporters who, like me, had voted for him based on expectations of a more rational foreign policy. They were suggesting that the president’s attempts to move in that direction had been sabotaged by officials inside the administration who want to maintain the current warfare state. Remove those officials and Trump might just keep his pledge to leave Bashar al-Assad alone while improving relations with Russia. I was somewhat skeptical, noting that the White House had unilaterally initiated the April 7 cruise missile attack on a Syrian airbase as well as the more recent warning against an alleged “planned” chemical attack, hardly moves that might lead to better relations with Damascus and Moscow. But there are indeed some administration figures who clearly are fomenting endless conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere.

One might reasonably start with Generals James Mattis and H.R. McMaster, both of whom are hardliners on Afghanistan and Iran, but with a significant caveat. Generals are trained and indoctrinated to fight and win wars, not to figure out what comes next. General officers like George Marshall or even Dwight Eisenhower who had a broader vision are extremely rare, so much so that expecting a Mattis or McMaster to do what falls outside their purview is perhaps a bit too much. They might be bad choices for the jobs they hold, but at least they employ some kind of rational process, based on how they perceive national interests, to make judgements. If properly reined in by a thoughtful civilian leadership, which does not exist at the moment, they have the potential to be effective contributors to the national-security discussion.

But several other notable figures in the administration deserve to be fired if there is to be any hope of turning Trump’s foreign policy around. In Arthur Sullivan’s and W. S. Gilbert’s The Mikado, the Lord High Executioner sings about the “little list” he is preparing of people who “never will be missed” when he finally gets around to fulfilling the requirements of his office. He includes “apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind,” indicating that the American frustration with the incompetence of its government is not unique, nor is it a recent phenomenon.

My own little list of “society’s offenders” consists largely of the self-described gaggle of neoconservative foreign-policy “experts.” Unfortunately, the neocons have proven to be particularly resilient in spite of repeated claims that their end was nigh, most recently after the election of Donald Trump last November. Yet as most of the policies the neocons have historically espoused are indistinguishable from what the White House is currently trying to sell, one might well wake up one morning and imagine that it is 2003 and George W. Bush is still president. Still, hope springs eternal, and now that the United States has celebrated its 241st birthday, it would be nice to think that in the new year our nation might be purged of some of the malignancies that have prevailed since 9/11.

Number one on my little list is Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who is particularly dangerous as she is holding a position where she can do bad things. Haley has been shooting from the lip since she assumed office and, it has become clear, much of what she says goes without any vetting by the Trump administration. It is never clear whether she is speaking for herself or for the White House. That issue has reportedly been dealt with by having the State Department clear in advance her comments on hot button issues, but, if that is indeed the case, the change has been difficult to discern in practice.

Haley is firmly in the neocon camp, receiving praise from Senators like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and from the Murdoch media as well as in the opinion pages of National Review and The Weekly Standard. Her speechwriter is Jessica Gavora, who is the wife of the leading neoconservative journalist Jonah Goldberg. Haley sees the United Nations as corrupt and bloated, in itself not an unreasonable conclusion, but she has tied herself closely to a number of other, more debatable issues.

As governor of South Carolina, Haley became identified as an unquestioning supporter of Israel. She signed into law a bill to restrict the activities of the nonviolent pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the first legislation of its kind on a state level. Haley has also stated that “nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel.” On a recent visit to Israel, she was applauded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stating “You know, all I’ve done is to tell the truth, and it’s kind of overwhelming at the reaction…if there’s anything I have no patience for, it’s bullies, and the UN was being such a bully to Israel, because they could.”

Read more