The United States’ goodwill around the globe might be the most important saving grace this country has against truly widespread animosity against America.
The international policies this administration has adopted so far — not to mention all of our fearless leader’s badmouthing of other countries — appears dead-set on alienating our former allies.
Meanwhile, we’re cozying up to our former foes — you know, the dictators, fascists and tyrants of the world? Are these really the type of people we can rely on to have our backs and repay our kindness when we need it? Or are they the type to take the money and run? I’ll leave that up to history to decide.
But it’s not all bad. Many impoverished communities around the world still hold this country in high esteem — not to mention gratitude — for its generosity in providing funding and programs that improve lives. These are supplies that may be saving them from illiteracy, disease, starvation and, ultimately, death.
Only the most cynical, heartless and immoral individual would consider leveraging charitable aid to the most vulnerable populations of the world for political gain.
Yet, the U.S. is doing just that.
Since January, the White House has been incrementally cutting back its $350 million aid to the U.N. relief agency helping Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza down to nothing.
What we’re seeing is the richest country in the world using its biggest hammer, money, to bully Palestine into doing its bidding by punishing the most powerless — children.
Because the Palestinian Authority is not agreeing to negotiate with the U.S. over a Palestine-Israel peace deal, the U.S. is punishing a population that is suffering from malnourishment and lack of access to health care and education.
Donald Trump expressed this shockingly callous approach in a call with U.S. Jewish community leaders and rabbis on Sept. 6 ahead of the Jewish new year.
In a transcript provided by the White House, Trump says, “I said, ‘By the way, did you ever do that before?’ I said to some of the past negotiators. ‘Did you ever do that before? Did you ever use the money angle?’ They said, ‘No, sir. We thought it would be disrespectful.’ I said, ‘I don’t think it’s disrespectful at all. I think it’s disrespectful when people don’t come to the table.'”
On Sept. 13, lead Middle East negotiator Jared Kushner doubled down on the remarks, saying, “No one is entitled to America’s foreign aid.”
How do we live with ourselves?
Even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initially opposed the cuts, according to the Foreign Policy publication. But Kushner said he thought it strengthened his negotiating stance in pushing his “peace” plan for the Middle East.
This strategy is deeply flawed.
Let’s say you don’t care about the suffering of faceless, nameless Palestinian refugee children, and you’re on the “America First” bandwagon. Seen through this selfish lens, the U.S. is still only harming itself with this move.
As the New York Times stated: “Some analysts warn that stripping funds from the United Nations organization that takes care of Palestinian refugees will only contribute to the extremism of future generations of Palestinians, since it is the main supplier of secular education to children there.”
The U.S. needs more allies right now, not fewer. We need to spread as much goodwill as possible around the world — if not to help the most vulnerable, than to help ourselves.
But it seems Trump is determined to create nothing but animosity from all but a few of our global neighbors. This cannot bode well for the United States.