Trump’s Business Approach to Foreign Aid Diplomacy

editor Saturday 10 February 2018 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share by email Printer friendly

By Prof. Eytan Gilboa.. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Until now, two approaches have dominated American foreign aid: the strategic and the humanitarian. Trump has added a third: the “business approach.” The strategic is based on interests, the humanitarian on compassion, and the business on yield. The great powers use the strategic approach and the Europeans the humanitarian. The business approach now guides US aid to the Palestinians. Trump has threatened to cut off US aid to the Palestinians if they refuse to negotiate with Israel, and cut US allocations to UNRWA. [Photo top right: Donald Trump and Mahmoud Abbas, photo via Wikimedia Commons]. 

This new approach influences the attitudes of Egypt and Jordan, both large recipients of American aid. This can be seen in their low-key responses to Trump’s Jerusalem decision. It can also have ramifications for Israel’s relations with the Palestinians and the US.

When Trump cut $65 million from US payments to UNRWA, and at the World Economic Forum in Davos threatened the Palestinians that if they do not return to negotiations with Israel he will stop US aid to them as well, he set forth a new rationale for foreign aid. It is the rationale of a businessman who, as president, is applying a business approach to diplomacy.

Trump wants to achieve the “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians – a deal, not a peace agreement. In his first State of the Union address, against the backdrop of the UN General Assembly resolution denouncing the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he repeated his threat to put a halt to American aid to countries that act against the US and vote against it in UN institutions. Thus he has added a “business approach” to the existing strategic and humanitarian approaches to foreign aid. Read the full story.



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