Trump to State Dept.: Let's cut funding of the UN by 50 percent

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Wednesday March 15th, 2017

Halfway there.

It's not a gigantic line item in the federal budget, but don't get caught up in the Washington way of thinking: A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money! It's $10 billion. That's lots and lots and lots of real money. And while cutting half of it might only be a blip on the radar screen as far as the overall federal budget is concerned, it's would represent around 10 percent of the UN's budget if Trump and Tillerson really do eliminate it.

Is this happening? It sure sounds like it:

President Trump’s administration has told the State Department to cut more than 50 percent of U.S. funding to United Nations programs, Foreign Policy reported.

The push for the drastic reductions comes as the White House is scheduled to release its 2018 topline budget proposal Thursday, which is expected to include a 37 percent cut to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development budgets.

It's not clear if Trump's budget plan, from the Office of Management and Budget, would reflect the full extent of Trump's proposed cuts to the U.N. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has suggested phasing in the major reductions over the coming three years.

One official close the administration told Foreign Policy that Tillerson has flexibility about how best to implement the reduction. 

The U.S. spends roughly $10 billion annually on the U.N., and the cuts could have the greatest impact on peacekeeping, the U.N. development program and UNICEF, which are funded by State's Bureau of International Organization Affairs. 

The obvious questions: 1. Why not just eliminate it altogether? 2. Why phase in the reduction instead of doing it all at once?

The obvious answer to number one is that you'd lose your membership privileges if you completely defunded it. There's an argument for just ditching the UN altogether, and I might be inclined to make it. But the argument for not doing that is that the UN Security Council could go hog wild without the U.S. there to veto pro-terrorist, anti-capitalist, anti-Israel nonsense - which as we learned in January, can indeed have the force of international law behind it. Israeli nationals are at risk of arrest and prosecution if they travel abroad because Obama refused to exercise the U.S. veto when he had the chance. What further havoc could the UN wreak if the U.S. wasn't part of it at all?

As for the phase-in, presumably it's to give initiatives the U.S. supports an opportunity to adjust rather than forcing them to simply endure an abrupt cutoff.

GDP growth for Obama's final year? A measly 1.6 percent

We're talking about the 2018 budget cycle here, so assuming they're going to do this for real, we're looking at a 10 percent hit on the UN's total operating budget by 2020. Is that enough to get its attention and curb its worst impulses? It might be in this sense: What the UN is really all about anymore is the propping up of third-world bureaucrats whose worst nightmare is having to get real jobs in the private sector.

The U.S. has never made the UN pay a real price for its malevolence, incompetence, corruption and willingness to do the bidding of tyrants, despots and killers. By definition, $5 billion is a price. It's not going to change the fundamental nature of the UN all by itself, but if it signals certain things will not be tolerated without a price being exacted, it's a step in the right direction without a doubt.

Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!