United Nations peacekeepers meet women and children on their path during a patrol near Bentiu, northern South Sudan, Feb. 11, 2017.

United Nations peacekeepers meet women and children on their path during a patrol near Bentiu, northern South Sudan, Feb. 11, 2017.

Credit:

Siegfried Modola /Reuters

Over President Donald Trump's first 100 days, we're asking him questions that our audience wants answers to. Join the project by tweeting this question to @realDonaldTrump with the hashtag #100Days100Qs.

#62. @realDonaldTrump, do you think cutting UN funding by 50 percent will make America safer?

Less than a month before his inauguration, then President-elect Donald Trump made it clear he didn't think highly of the United Nations.

"The United Nations has such great potential," he tweeted, "but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!"

Well, if Trump has his way, the UN will be a much poorer club. 

Memos and a draft executive order obtained by the media suggest Trump hopes to slash US funding to the UN by somewhere between 40 and 50 percent. That would reportedly include a $1 billion cut in annual US funds for the UN's peacekeeping operations.

Cuts that size would be devastating for the UN. US funding accounts for about 28 percent of the UN's annual peacekeeping budget and 22 percent of its humanitarian budget. 

Trump has promised to "make America safe again" and to put "America first" in terms of security. Does he think deep cuts to US funding for the United Nations' humanitarian and peacekeeping missions will achieve those goals?

Some say he should be more concerned about the knock-on effects of a weakened UN at a time when famine is threatening millions and conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan and elsewhere have created refugee crises on a scale unseen since World War II. 

"If President Trump is focused on American national security and stopping terrorists before they come to the US, the UN is a crucial player in making that equation work,” said Peter Yeo, vice president for the UN Foundation.

"[The cuts] will fundamentally undermine American national security,” he said. “These types of proposed cuts will increase the likelihood that tens of thousands of people will starve to death. That’s not in American interests.”

French UN Ambassador Francois Delattrem also warned that the cuts could create forms of instability that might be felt beyond the nations where UN missions are needed. 

“Do we want to downsize UN peacekeeping operations so they are no longer able to react in case of massacres or when terrorists threaten the existence of fragile states and even our own security?” he said. “Or do we want to make UN peacekeeping operations more efficient and right-sizing so they can help stabilize countries and protect civilians when they are in real danger? For France, there’s only one option.”

If Trump fails to see how unstable and conflict-ridden nations could endanger the security of nations like France or the United States, he need look no further than the threat posed by ISIS, a group he promises to destroy.

ISIS took advantage of conflict and instability in Iraq and Syria to grow into a globally influential terror group that can either deploy operatives abroad or inspire homegrown radicals to launch attacks in their own countries. And Al-Qaeda, ISIS's forebears and the group responsible for 9/11, developed out of war-ravaged Afghanistan.

So, Mr. President, do you think cutting UN funding by 50 percent will make America safer? 

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