Trump was so right to abandon the WHO
At a Rose Garden press event several days ago, President Trump announced that the United States would be leaving the World Health Organization due to its handling of the coronavirus and China-centric bias.
The announcement came eleven days after President Trump froze U.S. funding to the WHO and submitted a letter to Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus demanding reformation within the organization. "Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs," Trump said.
The news of America's withdrawal from the WHO was buried over the weekend by coverage of the protests and riots spurred by the murder of George Floyd, but that doesn't make it any less important. It was another momentous shift in U.S. foreign policy from a focus on globalization to Trump's message of "America First."
To put in perspective how badly the World Health Organization bungled its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, let's start 627 miles southeast of Wuhan, in Taiwan. Despite its proximity to the epicenter of the outbreak, Taiwan has seen only 443 confirmed cases and seven deaths. Seven deaths! You would think the WHO would welcome input from a country that was very successful at containing the outbreak, but no.
On Dec. 31, Taiwan emailed the WHO to warn the organization that COVID-19 was similar to the 2003 SARS outbreak and that human-to-human transmission was possible. Unfortunately for the world, the WHO ignored Taiwan and parroted the Chinese line that the coronavirus could not be spread through human-to-human contact, tweeting, "Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in Wuhan, China."
The organization went on to condemn President Trump's decision to shut off travel to and from China, a move that has been credited by people on the political left and the right for saving thousands of lives. If the U.S. had backed down and filled the WHO's every directive, how much more of a problem would American be facing today?
More recently, the WHO excluded Taiwan from the annual World Health Assembly meeting that was held virtually in May. The reason? China didn't want Taiwan there.
The WHO's actions regarding China begin to form a disturbing pattern: pro-China, anti-West. The U.N. and the WHO have become avenues for the Chinese to export their communist message around the world. But this pandemic has shined a light on the glaring issues within the U.N. and is hopefully forcing nations around the globe to take a hard look at the state of our global organizations.
But the world needs to do more than take a hard look at the WHO. Punish them for their embarrassing handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite what the detractors say, the United States withdrawing from the WHO will not hurt the U.S. in the long run and will, indeed, punish the WHO.
Annually, the United States was sending between $400 million and $500 million to the WHO, while China was sending only $40 million. For those who say China is now going to take over the WHO, it was already happening. Except now, the WHO is a substantially weaker organization without the U.S. and its money there.
As for the good endeavors the WHO was engaged in around the world, we can still take part through private charities and our own government. Take the money we were sending to Brussels and use it to fight AIDS in Africa or malaria in South America. It's also not as if the WHO was a glorious, corruption-free group of people just trying to cure cancer and provide free health care to the world. According to an exposé published by the Associated Press in 2017, the WHO "routinely has spent about $200 million a year on travel expenses, more than what it doles out to fight some of the biggest problems in public health, including AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined." I don't know about you, but I don't want public taxpayer dollars to be spent on the WHO director-general's lavish travel expenses.
The move by President Trump to exit from the WHO is no doubt the correct move for the moment. The coronavirus pandemic has pulled back the curtain on Chinese president Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party. The CCP hid information about the outbreak through internet censorship and even arresting doctors who spoke up to present the actual facts and data for weeks to save face and avoid embarrassment.
According to the University of Southampton in the U.K., if China had acted to contain the spread of the virus three weeks earlier, the number of people infected would have been reduced by ninety-five percent. If only they had all listened to Taiwan.
The United States is still a leader among nations, so let us a begin a mass exit from the WHO or at least a reformation within the organization. COVID-19 has left the world economy in shambles and thousands dead, but at least we now know the true colors of the WHO and the CCP.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Image credit: Pixabay public domain, slightly enhanced.