NEW YORK – President Trump knows a thing or two about being tough and bold. So it's not surprising that he chose Nikki Haley as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.
Don't let her southern accent fool you because the former South Carolina governor means business in her new role at the U.N. At her very first press conference she declared, "For those who don't have our back, we're taking names."
She's begun to shake things up at this international body and has received plenty of criticism from its host country. "I thought I needed to make how this community was going to see the United States," Ambassador Haley told CBN News.
"I thought it was my job to go and start positioning that and it was that the United States is leading again. And that they were going to see true leadership, but more importantly they were going to know what the U.S. was for, what the U.S. was against and there would be no gray area."
Standing Up to the UN's Anti-Israel Bias
Defending the nation of Israel is right at the top of Haley's list when it comes to making a difference. "The United States is determined to stand up to the U.N.'s anti-Israel bias," she exclaimed in her first month on the job.
Long gone are the days when President Obama's UN ambassador abstained from a vote that labeled Israeli settlements a "flagrant violation" under international law. Haley tells CBN News what she's seen so far has been shameful. "It's been abusive. It really has. I was floored when I got here at how biased they were against Israel; on the smallest things to the biggest things. It was almost like the U.N. community just bullied Israel."
Her action led to a hero's welcome in Israel recently with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling her publicly, "Thank you for all your help. Thank you for standing up for Israel, standing up for the truth, which is standing up for America."
Ambassador Haley feels defending Israel is a moral obligation to do what's right. She recalls sitting through meetings where country after country went after the Jewish state.
"I got mad, it was just unacceptable," Haley says. "And so what I did was I just called them out and just said, 'you know, I can't believe in times where we've got issues with North Korea and Syria and we're dealing with Russia and China you're going to sit there and spend every single month like you have for the last 10 years on an Israel bashing session.' It just blows my mind."
Haley's Long To-Do List
Nikki Haley's to-do list is a long one. The United States is considering pulling out of the UN's questionable Human Rights Council since countries involved in it also commit abuses. In a recent speech she pointed to the hypocrisy.
"The Venezuelan people have been robbed of their human rights. And yet, not once has the Human Rights Council seen fit to condemn Venezuela."
Russia doesn't get a pass either, especially over its relationship with the Syrian government. Haley called them out over their support for Bashar al-Assad's regime even as Syrian children die from his chemical weapons attacks.
"If Russia has the influence in Syria that it claims to have, we need to see them use it. We need to see them put an end to these horrific acts. How many more children have to die before Russia cares?"
So how does Ambassador Haley think the U.S. should deal with Russia?
"I think it depends on the issue," Haley said. "I think that what you should assume is that we should always look out for the United States first and do everything we can to secure and protect American citizens. Having said that, Russia has not been very friendly with us on certain things. We've disagreed on Syria; we've disagreed on Ukraine; we've disagreed on certain other resolutions and issues. But we do agree on ISIS and we do agree on how we're going to counter ISIS."
Countering North Korea is another challenge, possibly the biggest.
"We have every right to be concerned about North Korea," Ambassador Haley said. "This is not small potatoes when it comes to what we have to deal with. You've got a leader who is unbelievably paranoid about being overthrown, about being assassinated, about trying to move into his country and the truth is the U.S. does not, is not pushing regime change, we're not pushing for war. That's not what we want and so we're telling them don't give us a reason to have to do that."
Relying on Her Faith for Tough Decisions
All of this requires faith and not one based on actions of other countries. "Ever since I was little, I know I always wanted to have a deep strong faith and I always felt like I had a strong relationship to God," Haley said. "You know, I could talk to God during the day and all those things that bring you peace."
Raised in the Sikh faith in her Indian-American family, Haley says as an adult, she became a Christian as the teaching of Jesus spoke to her. That faith surely got tested as governor after multiple tragedies in South Carolina.
"For me, it was hard realizing I couldn't protect everyone," she said. "And when that sadness and that trauma kicks in you have to strengthen your faith, you have to. And so I think that really forced me to have to just say, 'alright God, you've got to take this, I can't do it.'"
She realizes she has to let Jesus take the wheel here at the U.N. too.
"I feel like now that we're in New York you see a lot more pain. Whether it's religious persecution, whether you see chemical weapons usage, whether you see crematoriums and things like that, we're starting to see all of those things and it's just hard. And you just have to go back to your faith because at the end of the day, the way I look at it, I have to be the strongest I can be. I have to do it with passion. I have to do it with conviction. I have to stay true to myself, but at the end of the day, I need to let God do [it]. And so that's the way I look at it."
She's leaving it all in God's hands. And clearly God is using Nikki Haley for such a time as this.