Other Editors: It is essential that Nikki Haley's replacement be as evenhanded as she is

October 15, 2018 11:07:22 AM



Nearly three dozen administration officials have left or been forced out of key posts since President Donald Trump was sworn in last year. Few, if any, will be missed as much as Nikki Haley, who announced her resignation as United Nations ambassador on Tuesday. 


For a former South Carolina legislator and governor with little direct experience with foreign policy and international relations, Ms. Haley took to her post at the UN with enthusiasm and a remarkable knack for learning on the job. 


During her time as ambassador, Ms. Haley racked up an impressive list of accomplishments and brought a traditionally quiet, unglamorous role into the international spotlight to near universally positive reviews. And she did so while frequently acting as a welcome counterbalance to her famously temperamental and unpredictable boss. 


On Russia, for example, Ms. Haley refused to adopt Mr. Trump's conciliatory tone and puzzling warm relationship with President Vladimir Putin. 


On North Korea, she expressed appropriate skepticism and concern over the country's nuclear program even while embracing the opportunity for a diplomatic opening with its leader Kim Jong Un. 


On Venezuela, she made clear her view that a military operation to depose President Nicolas Maduro -- a possibility Mr. Trump refuses to rule out -- would be disastrous. 


On other issues like criticizing UN bias against Israel and fighting for stronger sanctions related to the Syria conflict, Ms. Haley aligned herself more closely with Mr. Trump, but in a way that was more diplomatic and polished than his off-the-cuff style. 


As such, the two made a surprisingly effective team. And many in the international community came to rely on Ms. Haley as a more reasonable indicator of the administration's foreign policy plans than the president's tweets and rallies. 


Ms. Haley said on Tuesday that she plans to serve out the rest of the year at the UN. President Trump said he expected to announce her replacement within the next few weeks. 


It is essential that he pick an evenhanded moderate in the vein of Ms. Haley over a more polarizing figure like national security adviser John Bolton. 


Given the incredible upward trajectory of her political career, we expect that Ms. Haley will continue to enjoy success in whatever path she may choose. 


On Tuesday, she said that a 2020 run for president or any other political office was not in the cards. Given the timing of her departure, we find that somewhat difficult to believe. 


But as a demonstrated and effective leader, we would encourage Ms. Haley to remain in civic life in one way or another, whether in the immediate future or when she feels ready. 


In an era of bitter partisan divides, jaundiced public discourse and scorched earth political battles, figures like Ms. Haley are too few and far between.