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America is arguably facing its greatest peril since the Civil War. In the face of escalating tensions and provocations from Iranian-backed groups, the need for strong and decisive leadership is more critical than ever and underscores the urgency of having a president with the strategic acumen and firm resolve that the 2024 Republican Party presidential primaries candidate Nikki Haley embodies.

The joint operation between British and U.S. forces to neutralise the Houthi threat in the Red Sea earlier this week is just the latest example of the growing international crises the U.S. and her allies are being confronted with. Trade tensions, electoral interference, technological warfare, human rights concerns, regional disputes in the South China Sea and war in Eastern Europe and the Middle East all pose significant challenges. In the intricate web of international relations, the choice of the United States’ next president holds significant implications for Britain and her allies across the globe. As we navigate this complex geopolitical landscape, the prospect of Nikki Haley assuming the U.S. presidency emerges as an opportunity for strengthened transatlantic ties and shared values.

During the Republican leadership race, the former Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, has consistently emphasised the importance of strong alliances. Haley has stood out amongst other candidates for her unwavering support for Israel and Ukraine, branding President Biden for weakness that has invited aggression from adversaries. ‘Anti-woke’ tech bro Vivek Ramaswamy has shown himself to be a full-throated isolationist, while Ron DeSantis has proven to be an unreliable equivocator — especially on Ukraine.

Against a background of growing geopolitical tensions, particularly in the Middle East, Haley’s robust stance has increasingly won her plaudits from the Republican establishment and moderate swing voters. This has pushed her into second place in the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, and within striking distance in Iowa. Haley has been boosted by DeSantis’s flagging campaign; whilst DeSantis was once seen as the most serious threat to Trump, he has struggled to keep momentum and has not had a breakout performance during debates. Polling also now shows Haley leading Biden in head-to-head matchups.

Haley’s late surge should be welcomed on these shores. During her tenure as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley worked closely with representatives from the UK to address global challenges and threats. Haley, in coordination with her UK counterparts, worked within the UN Security Council to address and respond to instances of chemical weapons attacks in Syria. This included efforts to hold those responsible accountable and push for the enforcement of international norms against the use of chemical weapons.

Haley’s diplomatic track record shows a commitment to strengthening relationships with some of our key allies currently under attack such as Israel and Ukraine. In her role as the UN Ambassador, Haley passionately championed Israel’s cause within a forum where it regularly faces unjust vilification for its handling of Palestinian issues. Haley eagerly supported Trump’s diplomatic generosity toward Israel and characterised her role as reversing the trend of “Israel-bashing” at the UN. Haley also took a tough position on Iran, declaring in 2017 that the global community should recognize the “fight against Iranian aggression as a collective endeavour.” With Israel facing grave challenges to its very existence, having a leader who understands the importance of supporting the only Jewish nation is essential.

The UK has been one of Kyiv’s staunchest supporters since Russia’s invasion and, on a visit to Ukraine this week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that the UK would boost its support for Ukraine in the next financial year to £2.5bn — an uplift of £200 million on the previous two years. 

During her maiden address to a session of the UN security council in 2017, Haley said: “The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea.” This was in stark contrast to the tone taken by President Trump who consistently praised Vladimir Putin. Much like the leadership of the UK, Nikki Haley has long argued that helping Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression is in the US national interest.

Both Trump and DeSantis have continued to voice more ambiguous positions on Russia’s illegal invasion, even though a partitioned Ukraine would create permanent instability in Europe, with frequent border incursions. It is in British interests that the United States maintains its course on Ukraine and only Nikki Haley appears to be up to the challenge.

Finally, as China adopts a more assertive and hawkish approach, having a leader who can skilfully manage the U.S.-China relationship is crucial. Nikki Haley has been vocal about the need to confront China’s expansionist policies and has advocated for a robust response to safeguard the West’s interests. In her February 2024 announcement kicking off her presidential campaign, Haley issued a potent condemnation of China, characterising it as the “strongest and most disciplined enemy” ever faced by the United States. “China’s dictators want to cover the world in communist tyranny. We are the only ones who can stop them,” Haley said.

China’s growing international stature is by far the most significant geopolitical threat in the world today, with major implications for British interests. Taiwan’s election on January 13 to elect a new president and parliament looks likely to be another potential flash point amid increasing tensions between the self-governing island and China, which has ramped up its military presence in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea in recent years. Haley’s robust approach to handling China, coupled with her diplomatic skills, positions her as a leader capable of managing such high-stakes conditions.

Just as Margaret Thatcher’s strong leadership during the Cold War and Falklands War showcased her ability to navigate complex geopolitical challenges, both Haley’s tenure at the United Nations and her performances during the Republican leadership race have demonstrated her diplomatic finesse and commitment to promoting democratic values on the global stage. Her commitment to counter-terrorism, support for allies and proven leadership in crisis situations position her as a leader capable of steering the United States through the challenges of an increasingly unpredictable world.

Thatcher made history as the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Nikki Haley, as the first female governor of South Carolina and later as the US Ambassador to the UN, has already broken glass ceilings in her own right. The day a woman shatters the ultimate glass ceiling of the American Presidency will mark a transformative moment in the history of American democracy. The geopolitical situation demands that day is now.

Isabella Wallersteiner is an Associate Fellow at Bright Blue.

Views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Bright Blue.