Conservatives are hailing President Donald Trump and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for following through on their threats to cut funding to the UN after the UN General Assembly singled out the U.S. for criticism last week.
While President Barack Obama elevated the UN over his own country — bringing the Iran deal to the UN Security Council before Congress, for example — Trump has fought for American sovereignty.
But there is much more he could do.
1. Withdrawal from Paris Climate Accords. In June, President Trump dropped the Obama administration’s effort to force the U.S. to bear the economic burden of addressing global climate change (without having a major impact on global temperatures). The “treaty,” conducted by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, had represented the triumph of global needs over American sovereignty (and common sense).
2. Speech to the UN General Assembly. Trump delivered one of his best speeches at the UN in September, openly threatening to destroy North Korea, telling the truth about the Iranian regime, blasting socialism (“The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented”), and standing up for the idea of national sovereignty rather than rule by unaccountable supranational bureaucrats.
3. Withdrawal from UNESCO. In October, the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) because of its anti-Israel and antisemitic bias. “Just as we said in 1984 when President Reagan withdrew from UNESCO, U.S. taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our values and make a mockery of justice and common sense,” Haley said.
4. Withdrawal from the Global Compact on Migration. In early December, President Trump pulled the U.S. out of an agreement that, critics charged, would have given other nations control over American borders. The compact had other odd provisions, like a commitment to provide “access to sexual and reproductive health-care services” to migrants. The president also reportedly overruled Ambassador Haley in pulling out of the migration agreement.
5. Jerusalem. In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and announcing that the U.S. would be moving its embassy there, President Trump was recognizing reality and also defying the UN, which had passed a ridiculous resolution in the UN Security Council the year against Israel’s claims in Jerusalem. After last week’s anti-American vote, Trump and Haley followed through on their threat by stripping $285 million from U.S. funding to the UN.
1. Staying in the UN Human Rights Council. When it is not bashing Israel or covering up atrocities by tyrannical regimes, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) provides a grand platform for the global left to attack the U.S. The Obama administration gleefully seized the opportunity to report America’s own human rights “abuses” to the UNHRC, but the Trump administration should not have stayed there, where all it does is grant it undue legitimacy.
2. United Nations Day. In October, for some reason, the Trump administration declared “United Nations Day,” to recognize “the more than seven decades of contributions the United Nations has made to peace and security among nations.” (Actually, as former Israeli UN Ambassador Dore Gold has argued, the UN has often made conflicts much worse.) The proclamation claimed that the U.S. had led efforts to reform the UN, whose fruits have yet to be seen.
3. Budget reform. Cutting a small portion of the UN budget will barely make a dent in its massive bureaucracy. As former UN Ambassador John Bolton argues in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, there are several UN agencies that should specifically be defunded. In addition, the U.S. should push for changes to the budgeting process, so that it is not “mandatory” to contribute based on capacity to pay. Rather, he says, UN contributions should be voluntary.
It is certainly true that President Trump and Ambassador Haley have made headway. Even as the General Assembly was voting against the U.S. last week, for example, the Security Council voted unanimously for new sanctions on North Korea. And the Jerusalem vote was less lopsided than it might have been. But there is a long way to go before the UN can be restored to its original purpose — and much more funding, and many more bureaucrats, to cut.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.