US hard-power diplomacy over Israel will end up being an expensive clash if Washington cuts its funding to the UN
“Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures and different dreams not just coexist but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect,” Donald Trump said in his first speech to the UN general assembly, in September, drawing sighs of relief.
Three months later, those same diverse nations were warned by the US president’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, that she would take their names if they failed at the UN to support the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise the city as the capital of Israel. The era of mutual respect was short-lived.
If soft power, in the words of Joseph Nye, “is the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion,” then Trump has become the ultimate exponent of hard-power diplomacy.
Like many conservatives Mr. Trump doesn’t understand soft power, or value it. Clearly Mr. Trump doesn’t grasp how disruptive his unilaterally repudiating a long held international consensus is.
But there has been something qualitatively different about the US treatment of fellow member states over Jerusalem. The line of attack was so populist, so redolent of a protection racket, that it can only be aimed at a domestic audience rather than an external one. As countless diplomats have warned in the past 24 hours, it will also be counter-productive, only deepening US isolation.
Mr Trump’s bullying approach was a miserable failure with the UN vote 128 yeas to 9 nays.
Here are a few of the countries that voted against Trump on Jerusalem:
The "Free world" that Trump now leads has shrunk to:
Clumsy bullying like Mr. Trump’s only adds to resentments toward the US, robbing our nation of hard won good will. Bullying doesn’t engender good will, or help our standing in the world.
Yet this could turn into an expensive symbolic clash for the UN as a whole. In 2016, the US remained the largest donor to the United Nations, contributing more than $10bn (£7.5bn) – roughly one-fifth of its collective budget. Of this, $6bn was voluntary and $4bn assessed. The US gives $2.4bn to UN peacekeeping operations alone.
In addition, according to figures from the US government’s aid agency, USAid, in 2016 the US provided $13bn in economic and military assistance to countries in sub-Saharan Africa and $1.6bn to states in east Asia and Oceania.
It provided $13bn to countries in the Middle East and north Africa, $6.7bn to countries in south and central Asia, $1.5bn to states in Europe and Eurasia and $2.2bn to western hemisphere countries, according to USAid.
The danger is that Trump’s row could spiral out of control, causing long-term damage to the UN and to the reform programme of the secretary general, António Guterres.
Moves like these would be a serious blow to the UN, and it’s vital constructive role the UN plays in settling armed conflicts, and addressing global threats to the community of nations.
Here’s a tweet from a former CIA Director:
Trump Admin threat to retaliate against nations that exercise sovereign right in UN to oppose US position on Jerusalem is beyond outrageous. Shows @realDonaldTrump expects blind loyalty and subservience from everyoneÃ¢ÂÂqualities usually found in narcissistic, vengeful autocrats.
Ã¢ÂÂ John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) December 21, 2017
America should not choose isolation just because the rest of world won’t put America’s President’s petulant choices first.