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28/03/2017 | Cutting aid and diplomacy will make America weaker

The Economist Staff

Donald Trump’s foreign policy will deliver the opposite of what it promises.

 

ALMOST exactly a hundred years ago, America was poised to send troops to Europe to fight in a war which was not in the country’s narrow, short-term self-interest. Fifty thousand of them would die, more than fell in either Vietnam or Korea. That carnage started an argument that has not let up since: does America have a broad interest in maintaining global stability and prosperity? Or should it conserve its blood and treasure and let the rest of the world go to hell? A couple of months into his presidency it is clear that Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “America First”, means something like the latter. He wants a more powerful army, but can treat allies with contempt and thinks aid and diplomacy are a waste of time. He believes that the multilateral institutions where countries try to work together, built by America at great cost in money and lives during the 20th century in the hope of preventing war, are riddled with bad deals.

Enemies of State

His budget proposes to cut funding to the State Department and spending on foreign aid by 28%. It also suggests big cuts to America’s contribution to the United Nations and World Bank, including withdrawing all funding for anything to do with climate change (see article). When Angela Merkel, leader of America’s biggest European ally, visited Washington the president treated her frostily, and after she left he publicly scolded Germany for not spending more on its defence. He refused to withdraw an accusation that Britain, another steadfast ally, had spied on him—a charge for which he has no evidence, and which his own National Security Agency said would be “epically stupid” had it actually happened, which it did not.

His treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, removed a vow to resist protectionism from a recent G20 statement. His secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who heads a department suffering from a crippling lack of direction, went to China, accompanied by a single reporter from a friendly news website, and used language about the need for mutual respect and non-confrontation that delighted Communist Party bosses—without obvious concessions in return. Some of this may be attributed to inexperience. But there is a thread running through it all that suggests an overarching design based on two assumptions. The first is that America cannot afford the costs of aid and diplomacy. The second is that multilateral institutions make America weaker. Both are wildly mistaken.

No doubt some of the money spent on aid and diplomacy is wasted. But they account for only 1% of federal expenditure, and cutting them could do great harm. Aid helps make poor countries richer and therefore more stable. Soft power is cheaper than hard power, and nearly always a necessary complement to it. For example, after America helps its Iraqi allies to defeat Islamic State, it will need diplomacy and aid to make sure that the terrorist group does not make a comeback. Mr Trump’s secretary of defence, General James Mattis, once put it well: “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately.”

Multilateral institutions such as the UN, World Trade Organisation, IMF and World Bank may occasionally constrain America, but overall they enhance its influence. Most have their headquarters in America. And yes, Uncle Sam foots a disproportionate share of the bills. Yet this has also given Americans exceptional sway over global rules covering everything from trade to security. Walk away, and the result will not be a better deal. It will be China first and America’s allies diminished; not peace through strength so much as weakness somehow conjured out of primacy.

The Economist (Reino Unido)

 



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16/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
22/08/2008|
22/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
24/05/2008|
24/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
29/04/2008|
11/02/2008|
05/01/2008|
09/12/2007|
18/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/09/2007|
26/08/2007|
25/08/2007|
11/07/2007|
16/06/2007|
16/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
24/04/2007|
24/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
28/02/2007|
28/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
17/11/2006|
30/09/2006|
28/07/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
06/03/2006|
21/02/2006|
17/02/2006|
31/01/2006|
10/01/2006|
28/12/2005|
31/10/2005|
26/09/2005|
29/08/2005|
11/08/2005|
08/08/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House