As we say goodbye to 2017, Nikki Haley stands up for the US and the UN's true ideals

Each September, dictators, tyrants and appeasers from nations around the world arrive in New York City for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly and lie to the world about their own actions, denounce Israel as an illegal “occupier,” blast America as an imperialist aggressor and attack some of our allies.

No matter how small, weak, poor and insignificant they are, all nations have an equal vote in the General Assembly. And far too many cast those votes not based on fairness and justice, but to lash out at their enemies and flatter their friends – even when their actions have no basis in fact.

Americans have a love-hate relationship with the U.N. We appreciate its charter, which guarantees the sovereignty of its member states and holds out the hope of a more just and humane world. But we realize that the conduct by nations at the U.N. often does not live up to the institution’s great ideals.

Fortunately, from time to time a diplomat comes along who stands up to the dictators and tyrants with such force that the original promise of the U.N. re-emerges. America has been served by four such ambassadors – Democrats Adlai Stevenson and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Republicans Jeane Kirkpatrick and John Bolton. Each of them is remembered for a defining moment at the U.N.

Last week, with her defiant speech in defense of President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. is moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Ambassador Nikki Haley joined this distinguished group.

Earlier this month, President Trump did something that his predecessors from both parties had promised to do in their campaigns, but never did as president. He recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered preparations begin to move the U.S. embassy there.

In response to the elected leader of the U.N.’s oldest democracy moving his nation’s embassy to the actual capital of the Middle East’s only true democracy, the U.N. passed a harsh resolution condemning America and Israel. With President Trump’s backing, Haley let the assembled delegates know that America finally had had enough.

“To its shame, the U.N. has long been a hostile place for the state of Israel,” Haley told U.N. delegates. “I’ve often wondered why, in the face of such hostility, Israel has chosen to remain a member of this body.”

Haley then put the U.N. on notice that the U.S. “will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the U.N.”

It is long past time that the U.S. rewards its friends and shines a light on its adversaries’ conduct at the U.N. As the world’s most powerful nation, we have a responsibility to stand firm on behalf of the founding ideals of the U.N. – especially when such a stance is unpopular with the dictators, tyrants and their enablers.

With her actions, Nikki Haley has joined the ranks of America’s greatest U.N. ambassadors. The American people are fortunate to have her representing us.

Robert C. O’Brien is a partner in the law firm of Larson O’Brien LLP. He served as a U.S. Representative to the 60th Session of the U.N. General Assembly. He can be followed on Twitter @robertcobrien.