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7 December 2018

Five takeaways from Trump’s pick of former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert as UN ambassador

“The United Nations is the big leagues of diplomacy. This is not the place to learn the ropes.”

By Nicky Woolf

On Friday, Trump announced that he had selected a new UN ambassador. America’s representative at the United Nations is a key diplomatic position, giving the country a voice at the highest levels of the international community.

Who did he pick? Heather Nauert – a former Fox News anchor with no experience in international politics whose only governmental qualifications are 20 months as a State Department spokesperson, during which time she cited the D-Day landings as evidence of the “strong relationship” between the governments of the US and Germany, and six months as acting under-secretary of state for public affairs.

Unlike her predecessor, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, Nauert will not get a seat in Trump’s cabinet, and therefore will serve largely as a mouthpiece for the administration via Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

I spoke to Brett Bruen, the president of consulting firm Global Situation Room and former US diplomat who served as Director of Global Engagement in President Obama’s White House, to get his key takeaways from Nauert’s appointment.

1) “The United Nations is the big leagues of diplomacy. This is not the place to learn the ropes. When ambassadors are in the ring, they often have to operate without the benefit of staff, as they conduct difficult negotiations with their counterparts.”

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2) “While she didn’t bring foreign policy experience, Nikki Haley ran a state. She had been elected and was a national political figure. That translated into respect from foreign officials in New York. Heather has none of those credentials.”

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3) “Her performance as acting under-secretary of state was notable for its lack of accomplishments or even attention to job. It does not present a compelling case, nor engender confidence in the Senate that she is ready for a such a senior position.”

4) “The United Nations Security Council has a tough agenda in the coming years. It demands an understanding not only how to resolve crises, but at the very least avoid exacerbating them. There is a not insignificant risk that Trump’s tempestous Twitter feed, a dearth of senior officials at the State Department, and an inexperienced ambassador at the United Nations could quickly take situations from bad to worse.”

5) “All presidents appoint ill-qualified ambassadors. No one has ever dared send someone to New York who lacked the requisite skills. The stakes are too high and the consequences too great. This is the most egregious example of Trump filling critical national security jobs by using a superficial casting criteria more appropriate for reality shows than the dangerous realities of today’s world.”