Donald Trump’s Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley has told ABC news that America has ‘no love’ for Russia, even though she reiterated Donald Trump’s campaign line that it would be a positive development if America and Russia could work together to fight ISIS.
In there interview she once again repeated the talking points of her predecessor Samantha Power in speaking about ‘Russian interference in Ukraine’. Like her predecessor, she failed to explain how this fake allegation has actually manifested itself.
The most interesting part of the interview was when Nikki Haley said
“The president has not once called me and said don’t beat up on Russia, has not once called me and told me what to say”
There are several possible interpretations of her statement. First of all, it could indicate that as Donald Trump said during the early days of the Senate confirmation hearings on his cabinet appointments, he is not interested in telling his appointees what to say, will listen to their perspectives and ultimately make his decisions independently.
The other possibilities are that either Nikki Haley was simply pretending that the Trump administration’s Russia policy is more united than it actually is, or alternatively that Donald Trump actually agrees with her ridiculous statements.
It seems that the truth is probably somewhere in-between. Because the Trump administration’s views on Russia seem all over the place, there is probably de-facto, a great deal of wiggle room for various individuals in the administration to bend the rhetoric to suit their personal interpretation of the few solid foreign policies coming from the White House.
Although Trump typically speaks of Russia positively and only speaks of Russia negatively in order to shame the Democrats for running a poor campaign, Haley has stated several times before that she does not accept the Crimean referendum of 2014, a statement that of course won’t change the realities in Russia, but will certainly rub Russia the wrong way. Not exactly good diplomacy if the US actually is interested in an anti-ISIS partnership with Russia.
Rex Tillerson by contrast has generally been more diplomatic in his language (except in Korea) although he too tends to speak with his audience in mind. When in Beijing, he spoke of respect for China and did not mention anything negative about Russia, an important ally of China.
By contrast, when at a NATO summit, he read from the script about ‘Russia aggression’, something Moscow said was baffling.
Speaking to an audience’s desires only gets one so far. At some point, the administration will have to develop a cohesive Russia policy.
It is however becoming increasingly clear that the US and Russia are not going to fight ISIS together. It is true that communications between Russia and the US in Syria have improved under the Trump administration and neither country seeks to oppose Kurdish efforts to fight Salifists in the country, unlike NATO member Turkey. Yet when all is said and done, Russia is an ally of the Syrian Arab Republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Russia also does not consider Hezbollah a terrorist group, but the US does, this in spite of the fact that Hezbollah has been on the front line fighting terrorism in Syria.
Therefore, it seems unlikely the the US would ever join or even temporarily fight alongside a coalition made up for actors that the US either dislikes or hates, even if relations with Russia improved in other areas.
The confusion in this is exclusively on the American side. Vladimir Putin has said that he is happy to meet with Donald Trump and even suggested the symbolically important city of Helsinki as the venue. Thus far, there has been no meaningful response from the US side, not from Trump, Tillerson nor Haley.
Now watch Nikki Haley speak about her feelings towards Russia.