Non-Resident Fellow Richard Gowan provides an assessment of US ambassador Nikki Haley's performance in her time at the United Nations. In many ways, the ambassaor handled a tough assignment surprisingly well.
Donald Trump likes attacking soft targets, and the United Nations is about as soft as they come. Over the past two months, U.N. officials have been bracing for an entirely inevitable clash with the next U.S. administration. Their only question has been exactly what would set off the showdown. Would it be climate change? Torture?
At the end of March, with the crisis spreading from Crimea to eastern Ukraine, Kerry instinctively reached out to Lavrov anew. The pair held four hours of inconclusive talks in Paris. Then it was back to Geneva in mid-April for quadrilateral discussions with the European Union and the Ukrainians: Seven hours of negotiating delivered a new set of “Geneva Accords” outlining plans for the pro-Russian separatists occupying government buildings in the east of the country to disarm.
This week, Washington grasped that Ban Ki-moon might be a bit of a chump. The United Nations secretary-general, despite his seven years on the job and nearly four decades before that as a South Korean diplomat, appeared both overzealous and amateurish as he extended and then rescinded a last-minute invitation to Iran to join the Syrian peace talks in Switzerland. The Obama administration’s unconcealed irritation with this gambit has left Ban, who has always prioritized good relations with the United States, looking foolish.