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Bloomberg Columnist: By Challenging the U.N., Trump and Haley Provide “Moment of Clarity”

In their statements suggesting that nations voting against the United States and its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at the United Nations today could lose their foreign aid, President Donald Trump and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley are providing a “moment of clarity” in international relations, Eli Lake, Bloomberg View’s national security columnist wrote [1] on Thursday.

Prompted by Haley’s assertion [2], the U.S. would be “taking names” at Thursday’s General Assembly non-binding vote. On Wednesday, during a cabinet meeting, Trump observed [3] that nations take billions from the U.S. and “then they vote against us.” Lake credited the pair with a “course correction” in dealings with the U.N. Rather than using the U.N. to “validate” American actions, Trump and Haley recognize that “the U.N. needs America more than America needs the U.N.”

Calling the U.S. the “indispensable” member of the U.N., Lake noted the degree to which the U.S. keeps the world body going:

It contributes 23 percent of the U.N. annual budget. The U.S. provides nearly 30 percent of the budget to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA. That’s the agency that runs Palestinian schools and medical facilities and has often turned a blind eye to the participation of outlaws like Hamas. The U.S. provides the logistics for moving troops and material for peace-keeping missions and disaster relief. There is no U.N. without the U.S.

Lake observed that the approach of Trump and Haley recalls that of the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who critiqued President Jimmy Carter’s refusal to defend Israel in the U.N. as “joining the jackals.” While Carter thought that there was a need to understand America’s adversaries and not confront them, the problem became, as Moynihan observed, that the U.S. ended up “adopting” their views.

Despite fears that a more confrontational approach at the U.N. would isolate the U.S., Lake noted that Haley was able to organize new sanctions against North Korea. He was also told by a U.S. official that a number of members nations have reached out to the U.S. seeking assurances that bilateral relations will not be affected by the upcoming vote.

While Lake doesn’t expect the administration’s tough talk to change the outcome of Thursday’s vote, it will provide a “moment of clarity” when the vote comes. “The jackals will do what they will,” Lake wrote, “but they still need America more than America needs them.”

[Photo: The White House / YouTube]