During her recent trip to Washington, D.C., for President George H. W. Bush’s funeral, Nikki Haley, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, sat down for an interview with The Atlantic.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Uri Friedman: We’re meeting on a pretty solemn day. What’s been on your mind in recent days regarding President Bush? What do you see as, for you, the enduring lesson of his presidency?
Nikki Haley: I think the biggest impact that I have felt with the funeral and everything is seeing that image of Senator Dole saluting the president. That encompasses so much of what America is. That’s the Greatest Generation, the idea that we go through life, we do the best we can, but at the end of the day, how admirable and honorable these people are—just the respect of that was pretty amazing to watch. To look at President Bush’s life, it’s hard not to look at it and say, so many doors opened for him. They weren’t always the doors he wanted, but he walked through them, and it really was a life well lived. He served no matter what he was presented with, and he did it honorably. And to look at the gamut of what he served—obviously a veteran who’s been shot down, but then you go into the idea that he was party chair, that he was UN ambassador, that he was CIA, that he represented us in China, and then vice president and president. That’s an unbelievable life. The unfortunate part was I think he got beat up a lot of the time, but you hope he’s watching all the praise that he’s getting now.
Friedman: I found the letter you wrote to say you were stepping down from the administration really interesting. One thing I was particularly struck by is that you said you were proud of speaking out against dictatorships, including Russia, and standing up for American values and American interests. Literally from the beginning to the end of your tenure, you took a hard line on Russia, on its aggression in Ukraine, on its support for President Bashar al-Assad and his war crimes in Syria. Why? What is the nature, do you think, of the threat that Russia poses to both American values and American interests?
Haley: One of the most frustrating things that I’ve had to encounter at the …read more
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