The United Nation’s efforts to prevent violence took a regressive turn this week with a budget cut the Trump administration celebrated. The Daily Beast reported:
The United Nations has tentatively agreed to cut nearly $600 million from its peacekeeping budget after pressure from President Trump’s White House to reduce funding. Under the agreement, the U.N. will spend $7.3 billion on peacekeeping in the next year, down from $7.87 billion, Agence France-Press reported Wednesday. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley cheered the agreement on Twitter late Wednesday.
“Just 5 months into our time here, we’ve cut over half a billion [dollars] from the UN peacekeeping budget and we’re only getting started,” she wrote.
The budgetary decision was a compromise of sorts: the White House reportedly pushed for a $1 billion reduction in the U.N. peacekeeping budget. The cuts are expected to be formally adopted by the General Assembly today.
In fairness, there’s a limited amount of information an official can convey in a tweet, and Haley hasn’t explained in detail why she sees this rollback as cause for celebration. That contributed to a fair amount of pushback to the ambassador’s boast.
Ben Rhodes, a foreign policy advisor in the Obama White House, responded, “Why are we cutting funding for peacekeeping? Why are we boasting about it? No wonder global views of US leadership are plummeting.” (They are, in fact, plummeting.)
At the risk of oversimplifying, I suspect the rationale behind Haley’s tweet is that in Republican circles – the ambassador served as a GOP governor of South Carolina – budget cuts are good because they are budget cuts. Government spending is, effectively by definition, something to be avoided whenever possible, so cutting government investments – in anything, for any reason – is seen as inherently good.
For those who don’t think this way, it seems odd to hear the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations celebrate fewer resources for peacekeeping missions, but with the Republican-rhetoric decoder ring, there’s a reason behind it.