Lopez said the reduction in United Nations funding announced by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Sunday is “very much a policy of the Trump administration,” and would not have happened under “any other administration almost that I can think of.”
“There is tremendous bloat and bureaucratic corruption within the United Nations, has been for a very long time,” she said.
“It’s not that we’re buying votes,” she argued. “It’s not that we’re punishing those who stand for some measure of principle. That’s not the point. But if we’re going to fund that much of that budget, first of all the corruption has got to be cleaned up, and then secondly there has to be a little more respect for the one that is footing that much of the bill.”
“You get the respect that you demand,” she observed. “You don’t demand respect, you don’t get it. That’s been the case for a long time.”
“I think that it’s going to take a long time to change, but I think we’re already beginning to see the effects of the United States’ leadership. I’ll give just one small example, and that is after President Trump made that the United States would indeed, according to our law, move the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, at least one other country made the decision to follow us likewise and that is Guatemala,” said Lopez.
“Yes, one country, one small Central American country,” she conceded. “But sometimes what it takes is leadership, and then maybe slowly but the others will begin to notice and to follow. That’s what I think we should look forward to under a Trump administration.”
Lopez said that even the modest cut of $285 million, small when measured against the full operating budget of the United Nations, should be enough to make member nations “sit up and take notice that there is a new president, and he is charting out a new policy for the United States.”
“Nikki Haley has just been a tremendous United Nations ambassador for us,” she added. “I think they will take notice at least. I think there will be a change, not in the hardcore bloc that always has and always will oppose us—the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, for example, is never going to turn around and follow the leadership of the United States—but other countries will. Those that may be on the fence, those that are not quite decided, those that will tend to follow a leader. President Trump is now providing that leadership.”
Lopez said 2018’s pressing national security issues would include “emerging nuclear powers” such as North Korea and Iran, which have been accused of sharing nuclear and missile technology, including the technology to execute electromagnetic pulse attacks with nuclear warheads.
“Tensions in the Middle East are not going away, of course,” she continued. “And there are many other relationships that will have to be managed, as with China.”
Lopez said the Middle East is not merely balanced on a “knife edge” of war but is “already descending into free fall of chaos and violence.” She said the United States cannot ignore the situation, but it must also be understood that we are not “a partisan in an intra-Islamic sectarian fight between Sunnis and Shiites.”
“Do we care how things turn out? Yes, of course we do. The defeat of the Islamic State is very important, certainly for the people of the region, but if all we have done in helping to defeat the Islamic State is, as I put it, clear the decks for the expansion of an aggressive geostrategically expanding Shiite crescent led by Iran, which now controls capitals in Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, Tehran, plus making a play down around the Arabian Peninsula for Yemen, then what have we accomplished?” she asked.
“We have to understand that there are forces at play here that we’re not partisan to one side or the other. Jihad is jihad, and Sunni jihad or Shiite jihad is exactly the same thing. What we’ve done so far is help to tip the balance, and that does matter for the United States. It matters for our ally Israel, other allies in the region. I would name Jordan. I would also put the Kurds in that category,” she said.
“So it does matter how it turns out, but I think we have to be very careful not to take a partisan side because whether it’s the Shiite jihadis or the Sunni jihadis, they’re all antithetically, viscerally opposed to the United States and our allies as well,” she cautioned.