In the past week, the administration of President Trump has threatened to cut payments to the United Nations by the United States government by half, having the potential to greatly impact on humanitarian and peacekeeping missions the UN has established. This comes after President Trump has been fiercely critical of the organisation, perhaps being the most outspoken President regarding the UN. The US, however, seems to get a ‘free pass’ in the UN and the Trump administration would do well to remember that.
It is not disputed that the US contribution to the UN is small; the financial assistance provided is by far the largest of any state. This funding does not come without any hidden attachments, however, and the US get a good deal from the UN for their assistance.
A permanent member on the Security Council, there is rarely negative press surrounding the use of the veto power by the United States, particularly in relation to their involvement in issues surrounding the Israeli apartheid regime. Contrast this with the portrayal of the Western media of Russia for their frequent use of the veto in situations relating to Syria, whilst in itself abhorrent, is puzzling.
Furthermore, following the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, headed by the United States under no legal authority granted by the Security Council, there were no hard-hitting sanctions placed upon the hegemonic power. The money provided to the UN, whether consciously or not, buys the state influence in the institution, and profits handsomely from this influence in furthering its foreign policy goals. Again, contrast this to the actions of Iraq in the 1990s following their invasion of Kuwait and it is clear the US gets a good deal.
Cutting funding to the United Nations is likely to be seen as a provocative act and, should President Trump go ahead with the threats issued, will lead to a loss of hegemonic power within the institution. It would appear that President Trump is sacrificing the long-term diplomatic interests of the state for the short term budget saving option – which amounts to around 0.001% of GDP.