Speaking at the annual dinner of the American Enterprise Institute, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley criticized colleagues of hers in the Trump administration “who believed that the best thing to do for America was to undermine and obstruct the president,” asserting, “The president was the choice of the people, in accordance with our founding charter. No policy disagreement with him, no matter how heartfelt, justifies undermining the lawful authority that is vested in his office by the Constitution.”
Haley’s speech was redolent with praise for America’s role in the world and optimism for the future as she stated, “I want to start by saying I am optimistic about America’s future. I know that for those who spend too much time on Twitter, it may at times look like it’s all over for the American experiment. Depending on which cable network you prefer, there is a sense that things are coming off the rails in America today.”
She continued, “But America has survived a revolution, a foreign invasion, a civil war, a great depression, the largest war in world history, and social unrest of a dozen different stripes. And we’ve come out stronger after every test.”
Haley noted, “We have lots of people who are attempting to reject the very things that set America apart. This is a real problem. And it’s one we should strongly resist. Our history is being attacked as a lie. Influential voices on the left claim America was founded not in freedom, but in oppression. The idea that we must be in control of our borders is dismissed as uncaring bigotry. Some are attempting to redefine American citizenship itself.”
Haley countered those perspectives, recalling her experience at the U.N. and comparing the American experience to those from other countries:
What I saw cut through the loud and polarizing voices in our country. I saw what sets America apart — what we must protect and preserve. When you’ve heard a South Sudanese refugee woman tell you about watching soldiers throw her baby into a fire — When you’ve seen Venezuelan families walk for hours in the blazing sun to reach Colombia in order to receive the one meal they will have that day — When you’ve negotiated with representatives of a Chinese regime that is building a surveillance state that would horrify Orwell — When you’ve seen and done these things, you see just how profound the gifts are that we have received as Americans.
Haley quoted President Calvin Coolidge’s statement on the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “Amid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics, every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.”
That statement is just as fitting today. Equality before the law. Freedom. Inalienable rights. These are not abstractions. They are our inheritance as human beings. The Declaration of Independence outlined them. The Constitution established them as a system of government. It is these sacred principles that make me optimistic.
Haley decried those who would call upon America to relinquish its role as an advocate of freedom and human dignity abroad, saying bluntly:
A world without United States leadership does not mean a world in which our values and interests peacefully coexist with other countries. If it meant countries could live peacefully pursuing their interests, there would be more to recommend the United States retreating from the world. Instead, it means a world with Chinese values devoted to Chinese interests. It means a world with Russian values devoted to Russian interests. It means a world in which radical Islam runs rampant. That is a dark place for American values and a dangerous place for American security.
Haley challenged those who didn’t agree:
If you don’t believe me, I invite you to spend a day in the United Nations Security Council. Some of its most powerful members not only don’t share American values; they actively work to defeat them. We faced a choice: either sacrifice our values in an attempt to win friends at the UN, or defend our values and fight some fights virtually alone. Freedom and human dignity aren’t just the right values to promote; they are our most powerful foreign policy tools. Which is why we fought for them.
She noted, “On Israel, after a heartbreaking betrayal by the previous administration, we once again embraced our friend and ally. At the UN, Israel is the clearest example of this worldwide clash of values. The only fully democratic country in the Middle East is routinely demonized as an oppressor … If America does not lead the way in stopping this nonsense, no one else will.”
She concluded, “I believe in the American people’s ability to find our way through any challenge by honoring the beliefs that define us. There will always be work to do to be a more perfect union. But we will always do better if we acknowledge the truth that the world already knows about us: Even on our worst days, we are all blessed to be Americans.”