Home Analysis Observations of an Expat: Nikki Haley

Observations of an Expat: Nikki Haley

Observations of an Expat: Nikki Haley

Presidential wannabe Nikki Haley is a charismatic, hard-headed woman who hides her ambition and political nous behind a veil of southern charm.

By Tom Arms

Presidential wannabe Nikki Haley is a charismatic, hard-headed woman who hides her ambition and political nous behind a veil of southern charm.

In 2016 candidate Donald Trump attacked her for suggesting he release his tax returns, the then Governor Haley, flashed an ironic smile and replied: “Bless your Heart.”

Trump simply smiled back. He did not realize that the phrase was Carolina code for “May you rot in Hell.”

The steel magnolia allure of Ms. Haley has taken this daughter of Sikh immigrants from the South Carolina legislature to the state governor’s mansion, to the ambassador’s job at the UN and finally to the number two position in the race to win the Republican nomination for the US presidency.

She is yet to become a real threat to front-runner Trump, but she has emerged as the only outside chance.Nikki-Haley

Also read: Nikki Haley is trying to shatter the presidential glass ceiling

 Haley was a reluctant Trump supporter in 2016. She started off backing Marco Rubio and when he dropped out she switched Ted Cruz. Trump’s rhetoric, she warned, “would lead to violence.”

But in the end Party loyalty won out and one of the most powerful and popular Republican governors endorsed the Trump campaign. In 2017 she was rewarded with the job of US Ambassador to the United Nations.

At the UN former governor now Ambassador Haley agreed and disagreed with Trump. She agreed with him on withdrawal from the Paris Climate. The Iran Nuclear Accord and the UN Human Rights Council. She is—and still is—a big supporter of Israel. But Ambassador Haley opposed Trump’s, threats to NATO, the Muslim ban and his bromance with Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. “Instead of praising dictators,” she said, “we should have the backs of our allies.”

But possibly more important than her positions was Ambassador Haley’s dominance of foreign policy. Nikki Haley, not Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was America’s chief foreign affairs spokesperson. And the general consensus was that she left her post when the strong personality of Mike Pompeo moved into the State Department. Ambassador Haley wanted to be President Haley and to gain the White House she had to stay in the spotlight.

Read more: Nikki Haley highlights differences with Trump on China

Out of office, Nikki Haley, bided her time in the shadows while Donald Trump tied himself in political knots. Aware of his popularity with the Republican grassroots, she kept relatively quiet and concentrated on raising money and expanding her political base beyond the Carolinas.

In the aftermath of the Capitol Hill Riots, Ms Haley at first refused to attack Trump. But then she said: “We need to acknowledge that he let us down. He went down a path he shouldn’t have and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we cannot let that happen again.”

In the 2024 Republican candidate debates (in which Trump has refused to participate) Nikki Haley has consistently outperformed fellow contenders. She is fiscally conservative; supports Israel, believes climate change is manmade but we should continue to use fossil fuels; is a keen supporter of Ukraine and NATO; wants to crack down on Iran and opposes abortion but not in cases of rape, incest or if the woman’s life is in danger.

With little over a month before the first primaries, Haley’s performance has raised her from single digits in the August opinion polls to neck and neck with Ron de Santis for the number two slot. Mind you, that is still only ten percent of Republican voters. Trump has the backing of 61 percent of Republicans.

But this week, Nikki Haley, secured a key political ingredient—cash. The Americans for Prosperity endorsed her. The AFP is Charles and David Koch, two of the wealthiest men in the world and the biggest financial backers of conservative political causes. They backed Trump in 2016 but dropped him in 2020 because he was “divisive” and did not “adhere to traditional conservative values.”

A Koch endorsement also acts a magnet for other conservative donors. And it is important that in America elections cost billions and are often won on the basis of how much a candidate spends on rallies, advertising, mailshots, campaign staff….

At this moment Nikki Haley is the longest of long shots to win the Republican presidential nomination. But if she does, she is odds-on favorite to beat Joe Biden in a presidential election.

World-ReviewWorld Review

Rudy Guiliani is broke. Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss wish Trump’s top legal adviser wasn’t. A US court has ruled that Guiliani has ruined their lives when he publicly and falsely accused them of tampering with Georgia election ballots.

This Friday a jury of eight was considering whether or not to grant their request for $43 million in damages. An award, which will almost certainly be academic.

Three divorces, a lavish lifestyle and backing Donald Trump’s election lie has destroyed the 79-year-old’s fortune.

The former Mayor of New York was a presidential candidate in 2007. As such he had to reveal his assets. He said he was worth $18 million. Court accountants believe the figure was probably closer to $70 million. In 2017 he was earning $10 million a year in speaker’s fees alone, and had been doing so for more than 10 years.

He enjoyed the money. According to court documents, Rudy Guiliani in 2017 owned six homes, belonged to 11 country clubs and spent $12,000 a month on cigars.

The fall started with divorce from his wife Judith. She took a big chunk of his assets and alimony payments of $43,000 per month. But Giuliani’s biggest mistake was joining Donald Trump’s personal legal team in 2018.

By 2020 he was his top lawyer and closely connected with Trump’s election lie. This led to a $10 million defamation suit by an ex-employee and additional law suits from election computer manufacturers Smartamatic and Dominion Voting.

In 2022 the Internal Revenue Service took out a lien on his Florida condo because he had failed to pay $500,000 in taxes. In August of this year his own lawyers sued him $1.4 million in unpaid legal bills. His current net assets are $1 million. His known current liabilities (and there are more to come) are $1.9 million. He is bust. Backing Trump has a price.


Republicans may be shooting themselves in the foot over their planned impeachment of President Joe Biden.

There seems to be little doubt that the president’s son Hunter is guilty of a number of bad things. But despite months of deep digging by Republican congressmen, no one has been able to uncover a shred of hard evidence linking the president to his son’s business dealings.

Nevertheless, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives appears determined to start impeachment proceedings against President Biden.

Impeachment is a serious business. It takes a lot of time and effort. While an impeachment is in progress Congress is focused on little else. That means debates over government spending, immigration, Ukraine, Israel and climate change are all put on the legislative backburner.

These are all important issues for the American electorate. They will not thank Republican congressman for ignoring their interests to pursue a political vendetta without evidence to back it up.


It has been a bad week for Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky. In Washington he hit a brick wall in an attempt to release $61 billion in aid.

And at the EU heads of government summit, Hungary’s Viktor Orban proved himself a friend of Russia by blocking $55 billion of European Union aid to Ukraine.

Zelensky’s wife, Olena, said Ukrainians are in “mortal danger” of being left to die.

President Vladimir Putin couldn’t agree more. In his end of year public press conference this week he declared: “Russia is winning the war.”

Ukraine’s summer counter offensive, he said, has failed. Russia is now successfully dug in and preparing for its counter to the counter offensive and the West is growing tired of supporting Ukraine.

Putin said Russia was in sight of its objective—the “de-Nazification” and “demilitarization” of Ukraine.  In Putin-speak this means the removal of the elected government, complete disarmament of Ukraine and a ban on it joining the EU or NATO. This in turn would lead to Ukraine either being absorbed into the Russian Federation or turned into a toothless puppet state.

The battle for Ukraine in the corridors of Washington and Brussels is not over. President Biden is still committed to the promised $61 billion which Republicans have tied to tougher immigration laws. Biden will either have to find a way to untie or loosen the knot or agree to the link.

In Brussels. Council President Charles Michel said that that the other EU heads of government were determined to circumvent Orban’s block. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo told Ukrainians: “Don’t worry, we will be there to support you. We just need to figure out a few details.”

There was some good news for Ukraine from the European Council summit. They agreed to start negotiations with Ukraine and neighboring Moldova on EU membership. Georgia was given candidate status. To achieve that breakthrough, the other heads of government had to persuade Viktor Orban to leave the room during the vote.


It’s official: Netanyahu totally rejects the two-state solution

The Biden Administration, the European Union, Japan and Britain had all been hoping that the Hamas attack and the unfolding tragedy of Gaza would persuade the Israeli prime minister that the only chance for peace was the two-state solution agreed at the Oslo Accords in1993 and 1995.

But in an interview this week, Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was grateful for American support, especially for the role that the Biden Administration played in the release of hostages. But, he added: “We disagree on the day after Hamas.”

Post-war Gaza, Netanyahu went on to say, will be governed neither by Hamas or Fatah (the ruling party in the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority). Netanyahu would not reveal further details of his plans for Gaza other than to stress: “It will be neither Hamastan nor Fatahstan.”

A clearly exasperated Biden shot back: “You cannot say that there is no Palestinian state in the future. We have to bring Israel together in a way that provides for the beginning of a two-state solution.”

Netanyahu left it to his Communications Minister, Shlomo Karhi, to respond to the response. He said: “We live here. This is our country. The historical property of our ancestors. There will be no Palestinian state here. We will never allow another state to be established the Jordan and the Mediterranean.”


Congratulations to world-beating Myanmar. It is now the number one producer of opium.

The title was until recently held by Afghanistan. Decades of war provided Afghan poppy farmers with the absence of law needed to grow their crops. It also supplied insurgent groups with ready cash to spend on weapons.

The war in Afghanistan is over. The governing Taliban is imposing its authority on the countryside and that authority includes a Sharia law against the production of opium.

The political situation is reversed in Myanmar. The country has long suffered from feuding ethnic and tribal groups. And it is historically a big opium producer. The famed Golden Triangle includes the border areas of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.

Also read: Afghan Opium Smuggling to Central Asia Increases

But since the military coup in 2021, the ethnically-based civil war has intensified dramatically. Myanmar’s jungles have become as lawless as Afghanistan’s mountain valleys were.

Opium production in Afghanistan is down 98 percent. It is up 38 percent in Myanmar. It is estimated that last year, Myanmar’s opium lords produced 154 tons of opium which netted them $2.2 billion.


Cop 28 IS over. And the big dispute now is whether it was a success, a failure or something in between.

As with most political events, the answer depends on with whom you speak.

The fossil fuel producing countries reckon it was a success. The small developing world countries that are disappearing under the waves say that it was a dismal failure. Europe, Japan and the US are sitting on the fence.

The differing diplomatic interpretations relate to an argument over the phrases “phase out” vs. “transition away from.”

The EU and US and all the small island states wanted the final communique to commit countries to “phase out” fossil fuels. But the oil-producing countries objected and so the term “transition away” from was used instead.

The Association of Small Island states (AOSIS) were furious, especially as there was no target date set for transition. Europe, US and Japan were not happy with the words but pleased that oil and coal producers had finally agreed to be named and shamed in a climate change communique.


Tom Arms Journalist Sindh CourierTom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democratic Voice, the author of America Made in Britain and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War and co-hosts the world affairs podcast TransAtlantic Riff




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here