In his first tweet of the new year, President Trump said on January 1st that the U.S. would no longer funnel money into Pakistan if they were going to continue harboring terrorists and pushing back on America’s efforts to fight radical Islam. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” he wrote. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
In writing these words, Trump was not so much making a clean break with the policies of Barack Obama as he was putting a tougher spin on them. In 2015, after years of trying unsuccessfully to cultivate a partner of Pakistan in the war on terror (a term Obama was always so, so careful to avoid), he said, “I’ve made it clear that even as the United States works with Pakistan to meet the threat of terrorism, safe havens within Pakistan are not acceptable and that those behind the Mumbai terrorist attack must face justice.”
And Obama’s line was similar to that of his own predecessor, George W. Bush, whose relationship with the Pakistani leadership soured over the years as the nation continued to drag its feet on tracking down terrorists on the Afghan border.
So how is Trump any different? Because unlike his predecessors in the White House, Trump is making good on his threat.
The State Department announced Thursday that the U.S. would no longer give Pakistan some $30 million a year in security assistance due to the nation’s failure to confront and disrupt the terrorist organizations operating within its borders.
“We are suspending security assistance to Pakistan at this time,” said spokesperson Heather Nauert. “Until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network—we consider them to be destabilizing the region and also targeting U.S. personnel—the United States will suspend that kind of security assistance to Pakistan.”
Not only that, but UN ambassador Nikki Haley also announced this week that the Trump administration was suspending $255 million in aid from the Islamic nation due to its continued insistence on harboring terrorists.
“We expect far more cooperation from Pakistan in the fight against terrorism,” she said. “The president is willing to go to great lengths to stop all funding from Pakistan as they continue to harbor and support terrorism.”
Trump sold himself as a leader who would not make the same mistakes as those who came before him, and his willingness to put his money where his mouth is on Pakistan is proof that he’s living up to his promises. George W. Bush famously warned the world, “You’re either with the terrorists, or you’re with us.” Trump is using the U.S.’s vast wallet to make the same point.