Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

When Less Is More Dual Virtues in Cutting U.N. Peacekeeping Budget

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

When Less Is More Dual Virtues in Cutting U.N. Peacekeeping Budget

Article excerpt

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has been given a painful, thankless task: implementing the budget proposal by the Trump administration to cut the U.N. portion of the overall proposed cut to U.S. foreign affairs, diplomacy and aid, by 28 percent.

So far, Ms. Haley has been doing a decent job in New York, in spite of the confused picture of overall U.S. foreign policy direction emerging from the White House, the National Security Council, the Department of State and the Pentagon. She is a strong enough political figure in her own right not to be owned by the president, his family and political cohorts, or the Congress. One sometimes has in mind the image of the statue of the girl on Wall Street facing defiantly the charging bull.

Even though many foreign affairs professionals have been weeping and gnashing their teeth over the proposed cuts to financing America's foreign policy, such as it is, people sometimes partly do the right things for the wrong reasons. Cutting the U.S. contribution to U.N. peacekeeping falls in that category.

U.N. peacekeeping will cost $7.87 billion this year. The U.S. contribution to that is, by agreement, 28.57 percent, or $2.2 billion. U.N. peacekeeping missions across the world number 16 plus Somalia. The newest, in the Central African Republic, dates from 2014. The oldest, in the Middle East, is a hoary 69, dating from 1948.

And therein lies the rub. The United Nations is very good at establishing peacekeeping missions, but, for a variety of reasons, weak at ending them, not unlike American involvement in wars across the globe.

One reason is that it is hard for the United Nations collectively to take a chance on withdrawing peacekeeping troops from a troubled area or country on the basis that the conflict in question is over. …

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