“Thousands of Americans would be alive today if President Trump had spent more time listening to the World Health Organization instead of trying to destroy it.”
Nicholas Kristof, Trump’s Deadly Search for a Scapegoat
NY Times 4/15/2020
In yet another pathetic effort to deflect blame from himself, the Mad Orange King has announced a suspension of US funding for the World Health Organization. In the midst of a global pandemic.
While the Mad Man-Child’s motive may be pathetic, the results will be tragically fatal. Congress must stop him. Now.
The WHO is playing a central role in the global efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, of course, but that’s certainly not all they do. The Mad King’s funding cut will adversely affect numerous health programs around the world, including programs that keep us safe here at home. WHO remains the central organization in keeping the deadly Ebola virus at bay. It continues to tirelessly pursue the final eradication of polio (as it was key in the elimination of smallpox as a threat to global health). WHO’s programs centered on women’s health and safe childbirth have been transformative. It provides vaccines to millions of children, including 5 million kids in war-torn Yemen who have been vaccinated against measles by WHO.
Directly related to the coronavirus pandemic, WHO plays a critical role in helping to coordinate the global distribution of essential materials such as personal protective equipment, test kits and — at some point — a Covid vaccine. (For an in-depth examination of the problem of unequal access to such supplies, see this depressing article: A New Front for Nationalism: The Global Battle Against a Virus).
All of these programs and more are put at risk by Trump’s impetuous and frantic efforts to shift the conversation away from his utterly inept response to the pandemic.
It is not even clear if the Mad King has the “total authority” to cut the funding since Congress appropriates the money. But the law is not clear and does appear to allow the administration quite a bit of leeway. That is why it would be necessary for Congress to pass a bill making clear that the US’s dues to WHO are to be paid in full. And that’s why it’s necessary for you to contact your Representative and Senators.
So what are the Mad King’s stated reasons for halting the aid while it reviews WHO’s actions in relation to pandemic?
First, the White House claims that WHO was too accepting of China’s early statements about the emergence of the virus in that country. And that may be true. But Trump himself praised China during the same period.
And Trump’s feelings were apparently hurt by WHO’s position that his much-vaunted travel ban on China was ineffective. But it was ineffective. Over 40,000 people still traveled directly from China to the US after Trump announced the ban. And travel from other countries — especially Europe, a hotbed of Covid outbreaks — was never restricted at all.
Finally, the Trump cultists claim WHO moved too slowly. Let’s unpack that one. WHO declared a global health emergency on January 30, warning all countries to focus on their “preparedness plans” for what was coming. On the same day, Trump took a call from his Secretary of Health and Human Services, who warned the Mad King about the probability of the pandemic consuming the US. Trump dismissed his HHS Secretary as being “alarmist”. Trump then wasted the entire month of February by failing to make any preparedness plans. And here we are, staying at home while tens of thousands die.
White House criticisms that WHO moved inefficiently and slowly probably are credible. Like any United Nations organization, WHO is weighed down by an unwieldy bureaucracy and the political need to move with extreme caution, lest it offend some member country (like the US and its temperamental president). But that doesn’t detract from the critical nature of its mission. Or its historic successes.
Regardless of the veracity of the White House allegations, it is important to remember that Trump’s move against the WHO is decidedly not driven by any concern for the efficiency of the organization. As always, his motivation arises solely from what will benefit him personally. In this case, that benefit is pointing the finger of blame in some direction — any direction — other than at him. Put another way, he puts us all at risk for months to come for the sake of getting through today’s news cycle.
Please call or email your member of Congress and your Senators and tell them to fully fund WHO.