Trump’s Foolish Budget Priorities

There are multiple major humanitarian crises around the world, the worst of which is happening in Yemen, but Trump’s budget proposal would leave the U.N. with far fewer resources to use in addressing them:

The cuts would fall heaviest on U.N. programs, like peacekeeping, UNICEF, and the U.N. Development Programme, that are funded out of the budget of the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs. It remains to be seen whether other U.N. agencies popular with Congress, like the World Food Programme and U.N. refugee operations — which are funded out of separate accounts in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the State Department, respectively — will get hit as hard. But one source tracking the budget proposal said the Trump administration is considering cuts of up to 36 percent on humanitarian aid programs [bold mine-DL].

Congress may end up rejecting these cuts, but together with Trump’s proposed increase in the military budget it shows what the administration’s priorities are. The president is making clear that he has little use for diplomacy or development as instruments of foreign policy and is concerned solely with building up the military. It confirms that he wants to throw tens of billions at a military establishment that doesn’t need more funding (and could manage with less) while slashing funds for humanitarian aid programs that desperately need more than they get now. Given the U.S. role in contributing to at least some of the world’s humanitarian crises, that is extremely hard to justify.

Slashing support for aid programs seems especially foolish at a time when the people affected by crises in several countries require far more assistance than they are currently receiving. Yemen is suffering from the worst crisis, but it is hardly the only country threatened by famine. Millions of people in Nigeria, South Sudan, and Somalia are also suffering from malnutrition and starvation. Cutting funding for U.N. aid programs under these circumstances will practically guarantee that all of these crises will get much worse when they don’t have to. That would be the wrong thing to do in any event, but it is even worse when the money is just going to be frittered away on an already bloated military.

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