One of the most controversial pieces of Donald Trump’s foreign policy platform was his non-interventionist take on foreign aid. While many neo-conservatives shuddered at the thought of cutting a penny, conservatives and libertarians applauded his support for significant reductions in spending.
Despite the split within the Republican party, Donald Trump made his stance on foreign aid and nation building a signature issue and it distinguished his candidacy. As we all know now, that strategy paid off.
It’s been almost a year since President Trump took office, but he hasn’t yet taken any action regarding foreign aid. That inaction may be near an end though as a result of a particular vote that the United Nations recently took.
UN votes to shame the U.S., and Trump claps back
President Trump recently fulfilled another of his major campaign promises when he announced the United States would be relocating its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. Republican and Democratic U.S. Presidents had made similar promises for decades but never followed through.
The move was considered controversial by the international community at large, despite there being no legitimate reason that Israel shouldn’t be able to name its own capital. Every other nation on the planet has such a right, and it has never been controversial before.
Nonetheless, the United Nations decided to vote on a resolution shaming the U.S. for daring to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Unlike past Presidents who have sat idly by and let the UN run amok, President Trump instructed Ambassador Nicki Haley to do the opposite.
Haley informed the UN that the U.S. would be watching the vote closing and “taking names” of the countries that voted for the resolution. Trump escalated that declaration considerably during a subsequent cabinet meeting:
“All of these nations that take our money and then they vote against us at the Security Council or they vote against us, potentially, at the Assembly, they take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” Mr. Trump said.
“Well, we’re watching those votes,” he added. “Let them vote against us; we’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”
Donald Trump’s biggest fans often refer to him as a counter puncher. While that is debatable in many instances, for his response to the UN vote, it is an accurate description.
There is no reason the U.S. should give money to countries that don’t respect our interests
The true purpose of foreign aid is to align the interests of the recipient country with that of the donor country. Humanitarian issues aside, this is why the United States doles out upwards of fifty billion dollars every year to poor nations around the world.
While proponents of foreign aid often point out that the return on that investment justifies the spending, there is nothing wrong with increasing expectations. The U.S. could easily require that the countries it provides hundreds of millions of dollars to abstain from voting for certain UN resolutions.
In the grand scheme of things, those recipient nations would likely consider it a fair trade off. If not, cutting billions from an already bloated budget works out just as well for the U.S.