What is Unesco and why is the U.S. leaving it?

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Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu praised the U.S.’s decision. He announced that Israel will leave Unesco as well.

Unesco’s director, Irina Bokova, expressed “profound regret” over the U.S.’s decision. “Universality is critical to UNESCO’s mission to strengthen international peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity,” she said.

The “Withdrawal Doctrine”

Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted that “Trump foreign policy has found its theme: The Withdrawal Doctrine.”

The Unesco decision is indeed part of a pattern by the White House. Trump has expressed desire to remove the U.S. other international agreements, namely the Paris climate pact and the Iran deal. He has taken action to do so in both cases, although it is mostly symbolic in nature as Congress can make any final decision. Trump killed the U.S.’s involvement in the Trans Pacific Partnership and has threatened to renegotiate NAFTA.

This is not the first time the U.S. has withdrawn from the U.N. development agency. President Reagan removed U.S. membership in 1984, citing its alleged close relationship with Moscow and communist influences. In 2003, President Bush reinstated U.S. membership prior to the Iraq War.