As the coronavirus pandemic rips its way through the United States, it is painfully clear to the entire world that stunning incompetence and possibly deliberate inaction by the Trump administration has made the crisis much worse than it ever had to be. Epidemiologists project that tens of thousands of lives could have been saved if only the Trump team had taken the warnings — of which there were plenty — seriously and followed up with the kind of action recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
But the sociopathically selfish Trump didn’t want to have to deal with a crisis that could damage his re-election chances, so America dragged its feet and is now paying a deadly price for it.
With the crisis out of control, his attentions and energies have been focused on convincing the public that none of this is his fault. His latest effort to do so is the distressing decision on Monday to cut off all funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), wrongly accusing the United Nation’s health wing of “severely mismanaging and covering up” the spread of the COVID-19 virus and depriving it of desperately needed resources at a time it needs them the most.
Since the coronavirus crisis began in Wuhan, China, American conservatives and imperialist liberals have worked relentlessly to politicize the pandemic and turn it into an indictment of the Chinese Communist Party. In doing so, they have dragged WHO into the mud for its work in China, accusing them of helping the Chinese government “cover-up” the extent of the pandemic by using the data provided by the Chinese government and clutching their pearls over WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s praise for China’s harsh but effective containment efforts.
In particular, the right-wing has been obsessively complaining about WHO’s criticism of Trump’s last-second and useless efforts to ban Chinese citizens from traveling to America, even though WHO has simply been pointing out that the move violated the International Health Regulations of 2005, which were put in place in order to encourage countries to report pandemics without fear of being ostracized and losing needed economic resources to travel and trade restrictions by other nations.
The ease with which Americans have bought into the Trump media machine’s disgraceful efforts to smear WHO are a reflection of how American citizens and presidents alike largely view the United Nations and its organizations as tools of hegemony that should exist solely to advance American interests and deserve to be punished or ignored whenever they fail to do so.
But the World Health Organization operates on the principle that every life in every country is of equal value and they will do whatever they need to do in order to save the most lives it possibly can.
If that involves not recognizing the independence of Taiwan and treating the Chinese government with something other than open hostility then they will do so, if it buys them the continued cooperation of the Chinese government. Their priority is to keep helping the 1.4 billion people who live in China, even if it means provoking the ire of the monocled jingoists at the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
WHO unfortunately does not have nearly as much power as its critics claim it does and must work with what it is given; like the rest of the UN missions, it adheres to a strict mandate of neutrality and is not in a position to publicly challenge the figures provided by the Chinese government or make a big stink about Taiwan no matter how much Extremely Serious Foreign Policy Experts Who Advocated For The Iraq War And Now Reluctantly Admit They May Have Made A Mistake think they should.
The campaign to punish the World Health Organization by the Trump administration is nothing more than a repulsive excuse for the Trump team to further neglect its duty to the international community and to propagate a bad faith smear campaign dedicated entirely to re-electing Donald Trump by shunting the blame off of him and on to WHO and China.
WHO is not perfect and has made mistakes, but they are responsible for saving millions upon millions of lives around the world. Every day, they work tirelessly to send vaccines and desperately needed medical supplies to the world’s most vulnerable people in nations most Americans don’t even know exist with a budget of just $2.4 billion a year. For comparison, the U.S. spent $117 billion on its hospitals in the last coronavirus relief bill.
This organization deserves so much better than to be dragged through the mud as part of a morbid competition between idiot leaders over whose incompetence killed more innocents.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.