The United States Mission to the United Nations, led by Ambassador Nikki Haley, announced Sunday that it had successfully negotiated over $285 million in cuts to the U.N.’s 2018-2019 budget with the promise of more cuts to come.
These cuts come after Thursday’s emergency U.N. vote, in which the General Assembly voted 128-9 (with 35 abstentions) in favor of a resolution condemning President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy to the disputed city. Since Trump’s announcement earlier this month, Guatemala has announced that it will also be moving its embassy to Jerusalem, and 10 other countries are considering following suit, according to Israel’s deputy foreign minister.
The resolution and the budget cut are clearly linked. Before the vote, President Trump told his cabinet, “Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot,” and after the vote, Ambassador Haley assured the assembly that the U.S. would remember how the member nations had voted “when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations.”
She wasn’t kidding when she said it was the largest. According to U.N. budget figures, the United States paid 22 percent of 2015’s regular U.N. budget, and over 28 percent of the much larger peacekeeping budget for the same year. U.S. contributions to the regular and peacekeeping budgets, respectively, totaled $622 million and $2.4 billion in 2015. Meanwhile, 35 countries paid the minimum regular budget contribution of $28,296, while 20 countries were charged the minimum peacekeeping assessment of $8,470.
China’s GDP is well over half that of the United States, yet the U.S. pays almost four times as much as the world’s second largest economy.
Despite these shocking and disproportionate figures, the New York Times was quick to sound the alarm bells in its coverage of Haley’s budget announcement.
In his first paragraph, NYT reporter Rick Gladstone accused the Trump administration of having “linked financial support for the United Nations to compliance with American demands.” Later in the article, Gladstone referred to “[c]ritics of Mr. Trump’s approach” who, apparently, say Trump “should not expect others to follow his lead just because the United States wields the biggest monetary cudgel.” I say “apparently,” because that wasn’t a direct quote. Gladstone fails to quote, or even name, a single critic of the American-led budget cut, and the people he does quote take a wait-and-see approach that clashes with the finger-wagging post-apocalyptic panic the rest of the piece attempts to convey.
If Gladstone had read his own piece more carefully, he’d realize that this isn’t even a real budget cut. In the text of his article, he gives the total two-year regular budgets for both 2016-2017 and 2018-2019 as $5.4 billion. It’s a common move for politicians to congratulate themselves for making “cuts” when all they did was slash planned increases while continuing to maintain or increase actual spending levels. It looks like that’s exactly what happened here.
Gladstone seems to think that making a miniscule cut to the budget of a corrupt and inefficient organization that hasn’t accomplished much of anything since the Korean War is the same thing as an evil American empire snatching bread from the mouths of third-world orphans. But it’s more like refusing to keep paying your deadbeat roommate’s share of the water bill and then having to listen to him complain about you “holding it over his head.”
If the U.N. is worried about the U.S. having too much control over the budget, they should stop making us pay a disproportionate share of the budget. The gravy train stops here.