After Trump’s historical recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Guatemala announced the Central American country will relocate its embassy in Israel – from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – becoming the first nation to follow the lead of U.S. President Donald Trump. Guatemala was one of nine nations which voted against a U.N. resolution.
The resolution – to declare Washington’s move as “null and void” – was approved by 128 states, with 35 abstaining. Another 21 countries did not turn up for the vote. However, the resolution was non-binding hence the victory by anti-Trump nations was merely symbolic. However, something real has begun biting the United Nations, and probably some of the 128 countries.
Prior to the voting last Thursday, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, writes to about 180 of 193 member states warning that she will be “taking names” of countries that vote for the general assembly resolution. Subsequently, President Trump has threatened to withhold “billions” of dollars of U.S. aid from countries which vote in favour of the United Nations resolution.
Trump said – “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars. We’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.” Majority of the countries thought that by voting en bloc, the U.S. would be helpless against them.
So is it true that Trump administration would not be able to do anything since a whopping 128 nations had voted against the U.S.? Yes, the superpower can’t possibly declare all the 128 countries the enemy of America. However, the vengeful Trump can be selective when he unleashes his revenge on those foreign states that have humiliated his administration.
In what appears to be his first retaliation after being embarrassed by the world body, Trump has a surprising Christmas gift to the United Nations. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Sunday night announced a historic reduction in the U.N. operating budget – a US$285 million cut for the 2018-19 fiscal year against a staggering US$5.4 billion budget for 2016-2017.
Haley announced to the world – “The inefficiency and overspending of the United Nations are well known. We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked. This historic reduction in spending – in addition to many other moves toward a more efficient and accountable U.N. – is a big step in the right direction.”
The U.N. has a different set of operating budget and peacekeeping budget. The U.S. pays about 22% of the U.N.’s operating budget (roughly US$3.3 billion) and 28% of its peacekeeping effort (US$7.8 billion for 2017 alone). Earlier in June, the U.N. General Assembly voted to cut US$600 million from the organization’s nearly US$8 billion annual peacekeeping budget, thanks to Trump’s pressure.
Essentially, the U.S. will save around US$150 million next year (2018) from the US$600 million budget cut passed in June. And now, the 128 nations’ vote last week has given Trump the justification to further save American taxpayers’ money, making good on his threat against the U.N., of which Haley had slammed for “singling out” America.
Nikki Haley infamously said – “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out in this assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.” While the US$285 million budget cut was designed to teach U.N. a lesson, it could be a matter of time before Trump administration moves on to cut off financial aid to certain countries that had voted against the U.S.
Conservatives have long criticized the U.N. as not being in the U.S.’s interests, therefore, Trump might have had anticipated the organization’s move and strategically used it to his advantage. It was a brilliant tactical move where the U.N. (and the 128 nations) gains nothing but President Trump gets to tell his supporters how his leadership saves tons of American taxpayers’ money.
But the US$285 million budget cut to the United Nations – included across-the-board cuts in expenses for travel, consultants and other operating expenses – is just the beginning. Haley said – “We’re only getting started”. Some argue that Trump was a bully for using the U.S. financial muscles to arm-twisting countries that do not agree with his policy. So what if it’s true?
Already, conservative supporters have openly told Trump to completely withdraw America’s contribution to the United Nations, totalled about US$1.2 billion of the 2016-2017 budget of US$5.4 billion. Will Trump make good on his promise to cut off financial aid to countries that voted against the U.S.? Knowing what a vengeful person President Trump is, those 128 countries should be prepared for the worse.