The State Department just released its annual report on the voting record of the United Nations, and it’s even more dismal than it has been in recent years. According to the report, UN member states only voted with the U.S. 31% of the time last year, which is down 10% from the year before.
At a time when Republicans are toying with the idea of stripping funding away from the international body, the news is another sign that it might be time for some significant changes in the way we interact with the UN. That point was hammered home by UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who said in a statement that the report could play a role in determining how much longer the U.S. pours taxpayer money into the organization.
Haley said that the U.S. funds 22% of the total United Nations budget, a fact that we cannot help but take into account as we weigh the results of this report.
“This is not an acceptable return on our investment,” she said. “When we arrived at the UN last year, we said we would be taking names, and this list of voting records speaks for itself. President Trump wants to ensure that our foreign assistance dollars – the most generous in the world – always serve American interests, and we look forward to helping him see that the American people are no longer taken for granted.”
Zimbabwe, which received $58 million in aid from the United States this year, voted exactly zero times with the U.S. Syria, North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela were among the other countries that rarely if ever voted in accordance with U.S. wishes. Meanwhile, Israel, Britain, Canada, Australia, and France voted most often with the U.S.
Tensions between the Trump administration and the United Nations reached a fever pitch last December when a majority of the member states votes to condemn the U.S. for moving the Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to its rightful home in Jerusalem. At that time, President Trump said that the UN was only digging its own grave.
“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us,” he said. “Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”
After the vote, Haley reinforced this position. “We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations,” she said, “and we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”
This is more or less the first U.S. administration to make explicit the threat to defund the United Nations, but it’s clear that none of the member states really believe that Trump will follow through. Well, it may be time to prove them wrong on that score. One year of U.S. absence would be more than enough to completely turn around the attitude of the entire world. It might be time for the UN to experience what it’s like when the United States actually flexes its muscles, because apparently even strongly-worded warnings aren’t getting the job done.