President Trump threatened to "immediately" cut off foreign aid for Honduras if the government allowed a caravan of thousands of migrants to reach the United States. This is the latest example of Trump leveraging our status as the best and most powerful country in the world in order to further our interests on a national and international stage.
This is not the first time this administration has used our foreign aid as a bargaining chip to put a less powerful country or institution in a position where they must cave to our requests. Trump used it while attempting to bring the Palestinian Authority to the table for peace talks, as well as when he threatened to both leave and cut funding for the U.N. because of their blatant anti-Israel, “anti-democracy” practices.
The effectiveness of this tactic has not yet been able to play out, but suffice it to say that this has become one of the favorite new strategies pursued by Trump and his administration.
Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. The U.S. has given more than $175 million dollars to Honduras in 2016 and 2017, we used to be the largest donor in the world to the Palestinian Authority, and despite there being 193 countries in the U.N., the U.S. pays 22 percent of the institution's entire budget. Quite frankly, we shouldn't prop up countries and institutions which actively take part in undermining our mission as a nation. In the past we have, but the tide seems to be turning under Trump.
Some may say that even if we disagree with the actions of a country, that does not justify taking aid away. Their argument is that the aid is going toward innocent civilians, and we should not harm the citizens of a country for the actions of their government. This argument, however, does not hold up regarding the recent situation with Honduras — out of the $127 million we gave Honduras in 2016, less than $4 million was allocated towards health and humanitarian causes.
With that said, Trump wants the U.S. to have a muscular role in the world, and his demonstration of willingness to put other countries on the hot-seat in order to best serve our nation is exactly what we need.
It is in our best interest to leave the U.N. Human Rights Council, as we did; it is in our best interests to cut aid for a terror group in Palestine which rejects the possibility of coming to the table in order to achieve peace, as we did; and lastly, it is in our best interests to cut the funding for a country which is allowing thousands of unidentified migrants to put the U.S. in a truly tough situation.
If President Trump wants to send a message, he is sure is doing that with these bold moves. He is saying that the U.S. will no longer accept, comply with, or fund countries, governments, and institutions which do not share our values, and continuously show our interests simply do not align.
This is the concept of “America First” in practice and in policy. If you are a country that wants to undermine the mission of the U.S., don’t expect that this administration will feel that they owe anything to you, because they don’t.
Jack Elbaum is a high school student at Highland Park High School in Illinois.