In the wake of the Second World War, the United States led the effort to establish the United Nations — an institution that would, among other things, promote American values and protect American interests. To this day, the U.S. enjoys the power to unilaterally veto any substantive resolution that comes before the body, and, less officially, to defy the U.N.’s understanding of international law whenever it feels like invading a sovereign country.
But now, Donald Trump is preparing to decimate this tool of American hegemony — and global peacekeeping and poverty reduction — with a stroke of his pen.
The Trump administration has drafted an executive order that would radically reduce American funding of the U.N. and other international organizations. The order would terminate all U.S. funding to any international body that meets any one of a long list of criteria. Among other things, the order would bar American funding of any organization that gives full membership to the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization, supports programs that fund abortion, or that is “controlled or substantially influenced by any state that sponsors terrorism.”
Even if the U.N. agreed to forever abandon Palestinians, women seeking full reproductive autonomy, and every member-state that the U.S. has deemed a supporter of terrorism, the Trump administration would still radically reduce American involvement in the body: Once funding is eliminated to all groups that fit the above criteria, the order would require “at least a 40 percent overall decrease” in the remaining American funding to international organizations.
The New York Times’s Max Fisher elaborates on the details of the order, and their potential implications:
The order establishes a committee to recommend where those funding cuts should be made. It asks the committee to look specifically at United States funding for peacekeeping operations; the International Criminal Court; development aid to countries that “oppose important United States policies”; and the United Nations Population Fund, which oversees maternal and reproductive health programs.
If President Trump signs the order and its provisions are carried out, the cuts could severely curtail the work of United Nations agencies, which rely on billions of dollars in annual United States contributions for missions that include caring for refugees …The United States provides about a quarter of all funding to United Nations peacekeeping operations.
In other words, in addition to limiting refugees’ access to the United States, the Trump administration would like to drastically reduce the U.N.’s capacity to fund relief efforts for those displaced by war overseas.
It is difficult to overstate the sheer madness — and cruelty — of the Trump administration’s international agenda. The White House would like to undermine international cooperation on climate change, restrict migration, reduce aid to the global poor, and curtail efforts to grant women reproductive autonomy in the developing world.
This reads like a recipe for increasing the number — and mortality rate — of ecologically and economically displaced migrants.
But that’s not all. The Trump administration has prepared a second order, titled “Moratorium on New Multilateral Treaties,” which would demand a review of all current and pending treaties between the United States and more than one other other nation — and request recommendations of which treaties the U.S. should exit.
The order stipulates that it only applies to treaties that aren’t “directly related to national security, extradition or international trade.” But as Fisher notes, it’s unclear precisely what this means: The Paris climate agreement impacts international trade … does that mean it is exempt from the review?
The most optimistic reading of the orders is that they’re too conspicuously ignorant to actually be implemented.
Then again, it’s been a pretty rough year for the thought, This is too stupid to happen.