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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Trump’s new executive orders on treaties and international aid

The effect of refuting international trade deals has its own set of benefits and drawbacks no matter how they are viewed.

It is always difficult to quantify the correlation between economic and humanitarian benefits and drawbacks when dealing with treaties. The same could easily be said for intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations and their peacekeeping efforts.

The economic provisions of these trade deals, however, are not the concern of this column.

It was reported by the New York Times that the Trump administration was preparing two executive orders dealing with intergovernmental organizations and foreign aid. They were entitled “Auditing and Reducing U.S. Funding of International Organizations” and “Moratorium on New Multilateral Treaties,” respectively.

The subject matter of these executive orders would call for eliminating funding for the international bodies that meet certain criteria and for a review of the United States’ current and pending treaties with foreign nations.

It’s reasonable that the incredibly large amounts of foreign aid we provide other countries and its lack of transparency is a matter of concern.

Everyone involved in foreign affairs rarely knows where the copious amounts of financial support for economic and military assistance end up. So it’s a pretty safe political stance to support it, or as it is, to criticize it.

Bureaucracy and its frustrations are low-hanging fruits for any politician because they are experienced by all levels of society. The average citizen getting an identification card at the Department of Motor Vehicles is just as frustrated with the legal framework they must circumvent as an Iranian ambassador entering the U.S.

As the U.S. has seen with Afghanistan in recent history, entangling military efforts in foreign countries inevitably leads to “peacekeeping” and “rebuilding” efforts with foreign countries.

The disdain that President Trump and his administration have expressed towards the red tape in government is not without merit, regardless of the fact that it seems like a necessary evil.

Despite living in the “information age,” the United States is not headed towards some form of a  technocracy. A technocracy is defined as the management of society by technical experts, in their respectable fields.

However, the recent memos sent to Federal agencies to halt external communications lend to the idea that this will not be the chosen path of this administration. So, the government wants to stifle its own agencies’ freedom to operate while simultaneously cutting ties to third party international organizations by eliminating foreign aid and cutting multilateral treaties.

If unilateralism is the true intention behind the denunciation of multilateral treaties, these future efforts would be more respectable endeavors. In actuality, the denunciation seems like a subversive declaration of support for some countries over others.

Israel is a big example, especially considering that some of the largest campaign contributors of Trump’s campaign are major supporters of anti-Palestinian efforts.

This seems to be the case, especially since these proposed measures seem like they are aimed largely in part at withdrawing support for organizations that recognize support for Palestine and Palestinian groups.

Israel, a country slightly larger than the state of New Jersey, receives more financial assistance for security assistance from the U.S. than almost any other country in the world. Israel is also a country that continues to curb ties with intergovernmental bodies that oppose any of its policies.  The aim of these executive orders appear to cherry-pick where we provide aid as opposed to a policy that we believe we should not provide foreign aid.

Cutting ties with intergovernmental and international bodies also lessens our ability to use these organizations and their research as a third party source for enacting many of our foreign policy initiatives.

If we are going to rely on our own experts for policy initiatives, we cannot halt their communications. If we are going to rely on our third party experts, like many intergovernmental bodies, we cannot cut ties with them.

If we are going to frame these measures as “all or nothing,” it must be followed through on a practical level in that same regard.

Opinion columnist Nicholas Bell is an MBA graduate student and can be reached at [email protected]

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