Alabama-based foreign affairs expert on Nikki Haley: ‘She’s done a very, very good job’
After U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced her surprise resignation Tuesday in an Oval Office media event with President Donald Trump, political and foreign affairs observers around the world reacted with shock and concern.
While the true reason behind Haley’s resignation, which is effective at the end of the year, and the timing and manner of the announcement are still drawing speculative theories from the media, Birmingham-based foreign affairs expert Greg Keeley talked to Yellowhammer News about the tangible impact her departure will have on the pressing national security issues facing America.
“I think Nikki Haley’s done a remarkable job under pretty trying circumstances on the world stage,” Keeley advised. “The Trump administration hasn’t been bashful in coming forward on really thorny issues like Iran, North Korea, issues with China, obviously with Russia.”
“Unlike the Obama administration, who really had no foreign policy, the Trump administration, led by Secretary Pompeo and certainly by Ambassador Haley, have been very straightforward. They’ve been aggressive, and they’ve put America back on the map,” Keeley continued.
Regarding Haley’s job performance, Keeley gives high marks.
“My overall assessment would be an ‘A’ to an ‘A+.’ I think she’s done a very, very good job and she’s done it with grace,” he said.
— Rep. Bradley Byrne (@RepByrne) October 9, 2018
Biggest issues facing America abroad
When it comes to picking a replacement, Keeley pointed to three main diplomatic conflicts that are ongoing abroad that will be at the forefront of the new ambassador’s duties.
“One is Russia,” Keeley explained. “Obviously, they’ve become very belligerent and aggressive in Europe. Additionally, the hacking and effectively their information ‘Cold War’ against the United States and our allies.”
Keeley continued, “Number two is China. They’ve been very, very aggressive in the South China Sea. They’ve been aggressive now toward Taiwan and obviously with the trade war [with America].”
Then third, but certainly not last, comes Iran.
“They’re a state sponsor of terrorism. They’ve been destabilizing the Middle East, and they’re still working toward a nuclear bomb,” Keeley outlined.
He also said that he would have included North Korea as the fourth priority in that list until recently, with Pompeo and Trump seemingly having a hold on that situation for the time being. Keeley called their work in that regard “remarkable.”
All of these four “very, very big issues” were badly mishandled, if even handled at all, by the previous president.
“The Obama Administration ignored them for eight years, and this is what we’re seeing now,” Keeley commented.
Who should fill Haley’s shoes?
With those issues in mind, Keeley also had some names “that would be very good at the job” to suggest as Haley’s successor.
“One would be Bob Corker, senator from Tennessee – he’s the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” Keeley outlined. “He’s a very smart man, very savvy. He’s been on the foreign relations committee for a long time, and he’s retiring from the Senate in November. He would be a fantastic choice.”
The biggest impediment to that possibility, though, is Corker’s longstanding feud with Trump, who will make the appointment.
“A dark horse, I think, is the undersecretary for Public Diplomacy at the State Department,” Keeley advised. “Heather Nauert – she’s formerly of Fox News, and she’s been in that position for a couple of years. She really understands Russia. She travels with the secretary of state to the U.N., across the world – she’s been to Japan, North Korea. She would be a great choice.”
Next on Keeley’s list are two current U.S. ambassadors.
“Someone else that might be in contention is Richard Grenell, who is the U.S. Ambassador to Germany,” he noted. “Although he’s only been there a few months, he’s done some great work over there and he’s a very straight-forward fellow.”
“And then a dark, dark horse is Ambassador Ken Braithwaite. He’s the current ambassador to Norway, he’s a former Navy admiral, former chief of communications for the U.S. Navy,” Keeley detailed. “He understands cyber warfare and, more and more importantly, information warfare. He would also be a terrific U.N. Ambassador.”
What might be next for Haley?
While the White House works in the coming weeks to name Haley’s replacement, it will be interesting to see what she does next. The former South Carolina governor is in the unique position of being well respected by Republicans of all stripe along with Democrats, too. At her young age, Haley has been rumored as a future presidential or vice presidential nominee.
“I think part of this, if I was a betting man, part of the calculation here for Ambassador Haley is to preserve her political brand or her political ascent if she is considering running for president,” Keeley said. “I tipped years ago that she would be the first female president of the United States.”
While she did rule out running against the president in 2020, you could see her running in 2024 or if Trump decides against seeking a second term. In Keeley’s opinion, she is getting out at a high-point of the Trump presidency and setting up a future political run. Before her next public service gig, it may be time for Haley to make some money to safeguard her family’s future.
“She’s been in government service now for thirteen years, and it would not surprise me if she’s going to parlay this high profile and the amount of contacts she’s made in New York City into a very well paid job in the private sector.”
. @playbookplus reports: “NIKKI HALEY’S FINANCES: She has two bank accounts with between $16,000 and $65,000 in cash. Her husband made between $50,000 and $100,000 from properties worth between $500,000 and $1 million. DEBT: Between $1.525 million and $2.065 million.
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) October 9, 2018
Greg Keeley is the managing partner of Dreadnaught USA, an Alabama company specializing in multi-faceted government affairs, communications and cybersecurity practice.
He is a retired commander and information operations officer in the U.S. Navy, as well as a former senior advisor to the Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and Chairman of the Senate GOP Policy Committee.
Keeley was also named by Yellowhammer News this week as a member of the “2018 Power and Influence: Who’s next?” list, denoting “a new group of Alabama leaders poised to be part of the next generation of power and influencers.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn