Memo|National Security   6 Minute Read

Questions for Nikki Haley, Nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Published January 10, 2017

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President-elect Donald Trump nominated Governor Nikki Haley to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Below we’ve provided a biography of Nikki Haley and questions senators may want to ask the next nominee to be U.S. representative to the United Nations.

Biography

Nikki Haley was born and raised in South Carolina and received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Clemson University. She worked for her family’s clothing business before running for public office. In 2004, she was elected to the state House of Representatives and first elected as governor of South Carolina in 2010. She has no federal government or foreign policy experience. Since becoming governor of South Carolina she’s taken at least eight overseas trips, largely for trade shows and potential economic development projects.1 Destinations included France, the UK, Japan, Germany, Canada, India, and Sweden. During the presidential campaign, Haley was vocal in her criticisms of Donald Trump and supported Marco Rubio during the primaries.

Questions

Russia

Russia is running an influence campaign against the west to delegitimize governing institutions and weaken democratic states from within. In doing so, they are supporting both witting and unwitting proxies within states and online who disseminate embarrassing information, misinformation, or extreme viewpoints, aimed at weakening the credibility of those in power.  In addition, since Putin’s rise, Russia is increasingly suppressing dissent and exercising control over the media. Fines for participating in unauthorized protests have increased. Russia developed a tighter grip on non-governmental and civil society organizations. The state has broadly interpreted laws and is using anti-extremism laws to prevent dissent.

  • Do you believe the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election? Do you believe the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia sought to help Trump get elected and hurt Clinton’s campaign?
  • How concerned should Americans be about Russia’s interference in our election?
  • Do you believe that Russia is actively engaged in disrupting elections in other western democracies? What can be done at the United Nations to confront this threat?
  • Is Russia a net-positive on the world stage or a net-negative?
  • What is the appropriate response to counter Russia’s interference in the U.S. election? Will this administration respond in any way to Russian meddling in our election?
  • Will you hold Russia accountable for its aggressive activities in Ukraine and Syria at the UN Security Council?
  • Because of Russia’s vetoes at the Security Council, the Syrian conflict was prolonged and Assad consolidated power. Russia has deepened its involvement in the region and crippled meaningful action at the UN. What will you do in your capacity as U.S. Ambassador to the UN to humanitarian concerns aren’t ignored?
  • Will the U.S. continue to impose sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Crimea?

Iran

The nuclear deal with Iran, while imperfect, stops Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and ensures inspectors are in the country to verify compliance. President-elect Trump has repeatedly called for breaking the deal or renegotiating it. This is a mistake and will imperil the security of the U.S. and our allies. The international community would blame the U.S. for breaking the deal and Iran would be emboldened to kick out IAEA inspectors and rebuild its program to develop a nuclear weapon.

  • Will the administration keep the deal intact? Will the President sign waivers to prevent sanctions from being imposed on Iran?
  • You also opposed the nuclear deal with Iran. Do you agree that the JCPOA increased Iran’s breakout time to a nuclear weapon from two months to a year?
  • Do you agree that if the U.S. breaks the deal that Iran will also step away from its commitments and seek to acquire a nuclear weapons capability—which would put us and our allies in a dangerous security position?
  • If the U.S. walks away from the nuclear deal, and Iran takes steps to start a nuclear weapons program, would you advise President Trump to pursue a military option in Iran?
  • What is your assessment of our P5+1 allies’ reaction if the U.S. walks away from the deal we worked with them on?
  • When the deal was first signed, IAEA Director General Amano said the IAEA will require $10.5 million ever year for the Iranian nuclear issue. Will the U.S. meet its commitments to ensure the IAEA has the resources to verify Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA?

Syria

The President-elect has repeatedly refused to articulate his strategy to defeat ISIS and has claimed to know more than U.S. Generals do on fighting ISIS. The President-elect has also argued in favor of torture, indiscriminately bombing the innocent families of terrorists, and potentially committing ground troops in the region. Congress holds the purse strings and I believe the American people have a right to know what its government is doing with their taxpayer dollars to keep them safe.

  • What is the administration’s strategy to defeat ISIS?
  • Does the administration believe that Bashar al-Assad—whose regime is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians—should be removed from power?
  • Because of Syria and Russia’s focus on retaking Aleppo from Syrian rebels, ISIS was able to retake Palmyra from the Syrian regime. Do you agree Syria and Russia are more focused on propping up Bashar al-Assad instead of defeating ISIS? What is the President-elect’s view?
  • President-elect Trump said he will end migration of refugees to the U.S., and as governor, you asked the State Department not to resettle Syrian refugees in South Carolina. During the presidential campaign, President-elect Trump said the U.S. had “no idea who these people are, where they come from.”2
    • Do you agree with the President’s assessment that the U.S. is not vetting refugees’ application to enter the U.S.?
    • The U.S. has the most stringent vetting process for refugees, especially for Syrian refugees. It takes about two years for the U.S. government to review and accept Syrian refugees. Have you and the President-elect been briefed on the vetting process U.S. and UN agencies undertake before allowing refugees to come to the U.S?

North Korea

Last year, North Korea tested its fifth nuclear weapon in defiance of international law and despite sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the U.S. Its ballistic missile development has escalated in recent years and experts estimate that North Korea is on the path to acquiring the technology for a missile to reach the west coast of the United States. The Obama administration warned Trump’s transition team that North Korea will be the major national security threat facing the U.S., but Trump himself has articulated no policy to deter the country’s nuclear ambitions.

  • How will you work with your partners at the Security Council to ensure effective enforcement of UN sanctions? Do you think more extensive sanctions on North Korea are necessary?
  • How can the U.S. urge China to close sanctions loopholes and pursue a strategy that ends North Korea’s nuclear program?
  • President-elect Trump has said he prefers to be unpredictable in his defense and foreign policy. In regards to imposing a ‘no nuclear first-strike’ policy, he said he didn’t want to take anything off the table. Does the administration support a “no first-use” nuclear policy?
  • President-elect Trump said he would have no problem speaking to Kim Jong Un. Does the administration support direct talks with North Korea? Does President Trump plan to meet Kim Jong Un?
  • Previous efforts to resume six-party talks have included the prerequisite that North Korea recognize the goal of talks was to denuclearize. Will this administration continue this policy? If not, what are the administration’s plans to address the North Korean nuclear threat?

General

As ambassador to the United Nations, you have a powerful voice to global leaders, as well as to the U.S. president on his cabinet. You will likely be at odds with Russia and China in the Security Council. During the presidential campaign, you were vocal in your criticism of President-elect Trump’s statements and many of our international allies have also expressed concern with his statements.

  • In response to your critiques of the President-elect you said, “When I see something I am uncomfortable with, I say it.”3 If you’re confirmed and you have a seat on his cabinet, will you continue to voice your opposition to President Trump’s views you’re uncomfortable with—like the Muslim ban?
  • What is your experience in negotiating agreements with foreign powers?
  • What are the administration’s priorities at the United Nations? What do you feel are the most pressing issues?
  1. Seerat Chabba, “”Who is Nikki Haley? South Carolina Governor is Trump’s Pick for Ambassador to UN, Reports Say,” International Business Times, November 23, 2016. Accessed December 28, 2016. Available at: http://www.ibtimes.com/who-nikki-haley-south-carolina-governor-trumps-pick-ambassador-un-reports-say-2450334.

  2. Lauren Gambino, “Trump and Syrian Refugees in the U.S.: Separating the Facts from Fiction,” The Guardian, September 2, 2016. Accessed December 28, 2016. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/02/donald-trump-syria-refugees-us-immigration-security-terrorism.

  3. Nahal Toosi and Alex Isenstadt, "Trump taps Nikkii Haley to be UN ambassador," Politico, November 23, 2016. Accessed December 28, 2016. Available at: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/trump-to-announce-south-carolina-gov-nikki-haley-to-be-un-ambassador-231788.

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