Nikki Haley goes off on UN over Jerusalem vote: We'll remember this when you come begging for money next time

Dude, I think she just clinched the 2024 nomination.

In case there was any ambiguity to that, she sent around an email to her fellow ambassadors a few days ago:

“As you consider your vote, I want you to know that the President and U.S. take this vote personally,” Haley wrote in an email that was obtained by Foreign Policy. “The President will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us. We will take note of each and every vote on this issue.”

The Security Council voted 14-1 on Monday to demand that the U.S. rescind its decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the U.S. embassy there (eventually). The lone no vote came, of course, from Haley, and since the U.S. is a permanent member of the UNSC, that meant the motion didn’t pass. So Israel’s critics moved to Plan B, holding a vote of the entire General Assembly to declare the White House’s decision “null and void,” whatever the hell that means. That vote would carry no official weight but it would operate as a rebuke of the U.S. and its president. So Haley warned them, three times — first in the email, then in last night’s tweet, and again today in the speech below — that America would be treating this as a test of who its real friends are. Final result:

The UN called her bluff, but either way this is damned good domestic politics by her and Trump, taking a stand for American sovereignty and putting the General Assembly on notice that the days of the U.S. bankrolling the biggest international platform for anti-Israel bloodsuckers are numbered *if* it remains anti-Israel. That’s risky business for various reasons, starting with the fact that Trump will have to follow through now or else be viewed as weak, but Haley’s speech here is quintessentially “America First.” Whereas Obamaites might view the UN as a sort of charity which, in theory, serves the common good by keeping the peace internationally, Trumpists view it as an investment. If your investment isn’t delivering returns for you then you’re going to divest. Strictly business.

Haley “has made it clear that the U.N. needs America more than America needs the U.N.,” wrote Eli Lake early this morning. “This is not just because the U.S. hosts the body’s headquarters. It’s because the U.S. remains the indispensable member of the organization.” That’s certainly true financially but the UN has at times provided something to the U.S. too, namely, legitimizing American military expeditions in the eyes of domestic and foreign progressives who view wars, especially American wars, as illegitimate unless they have the backing of the international cognoscenti. Haley’s version of hardball may have complicated that:

Ghindy said the disagreement could ripple in ways that affect the Trump administration later. It could undermine its ability to get the help of other countries to pursue any policies on Iran or North Korea, he said. “Especially those that are a break from the past, like undoing the Iran deal or inching toward military action on North Korea,” he said. “You’re going to need partners.”

Indeed, the senior foreign diplomat, who spoke anonymously to protect relations with the Trump administration, said that “nine times out of 10, it’s the US asking the rest of the UN for support, not vice versa.”

The U.S. does need partners, especially in handling North Korea, but its own alliances with South Korea and Japan provide those partnerships irrespective of whether they operate under the auspices of the UN. As for other countries withholding support from the U.S. in future endeavors, that’ll depend partly on whether Trump is serious about cutting off aid and partly on how worried those nations are about his behavior. Some diplomatic wise men will conclude that Trump is so erratic that it’s best to ignore whatever indignities he lobs at them and continue to work with him if only to maintain some influence over his behavior in the interests of international order. In that sense they’re not much different from John Kelly or Rex Tillerson. Which is to say, American money and international cooperation will likely keep flowing, punctuated by the occasional “Death to the Jews” floor vote.