At the heart of the Coronavirus pandemic is an organization whose stated mission is to “ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage.” This group has the ear of every world leader, and economies rise or fall upon its every utterance. It is also headed by a man who gained his first slice of power under a Marxist-Leninist military junta. I am, of course, talking about the World Health Organization.
With President Donald Trump threatening to withhold funding from the WHO, the world’s media has split into two clearly defined camps: those who support this decision and those who don’t. But before making value judgments on defunding an organization tasked with looking after the health of the world, it is worth looking at the motivations and the history of those leading it. As with many of history’s most impactful events and blunders, it is all too often political ideology that shaped the motivations of those involved. The idea that such a figure as the Ethiopian WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus should be beyond question is not only ignorant, it’s dangerous.
It’s All About Motivation
During the impeachment trial of President Trump, much was made of his motivation, with prosecutors insisting that it doesn’t matter if the president thought he was doing something for “good” if his actions still benefitted him personally. Surely this must also apply to benefiting an ideology that one supports and has worked for during an entire career.
To put it bluntly, Tedros is not a man who should be covered in glory for his past actions and collaboration with a government guilty of gross human rights violations, murders, and even accusations of genocide. Why is the media putting him on a pedestal? Why do they assume that someone so intricately involved with political horror would all of a sudden become a new man the day he assumed the mantle of Director-General?
The Heady Days of Youth
Tedros began his career working for The Derg (translated as “The Council”), its official name being the Provisional Military Government of Socialist Ethiopia, around 1986. It was an openly Marxist-Leninist junta that had come to power a decade earlier at the barrel of a gun, backed by the Soviets and overthrew the Ethiopian Empire and Emperor Haile Selassie. He was a junior public health expert in the government at a time when the world was only just coming to realize what a health catastrophe was taking place in Ethiopia and present-day Eritrea.
Across the Western world, we heard the concerts of Live Aid and were encouraged to send cash to the starving and displaced people. Displaced, by the way, by The Derg in their mass forced-relocation experiments, and impoverished by the stealing of private land for use by the national government.
Forcing people off their land, silencing political opponents, mass-imprisonment of those who spoke out, the casual “disappearance” of those deemed a threat to their hold on power – this is the government for which Tedros chose to work.
When The Derg finally fell, Tedros went to further his education in the U.K., but he soon returned to the center of power.
Second Bite of the Apple
As Minister of Health from 2005 through 2012, and then as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2016, Tedros was literally at the heart of Ethiopian government. And what occurred under this ruling government’s watch? According to then-Secretary of State John Kerry in his 2015 Human Rights Report:
“The most significant human rights problems included harassment and intimidation of opposition members and supporters and journalists; alleged torture, beating, abuse, and mistreatment of detainees by security forces; and politically motivated trials.”
The litany continues, describing discrimination, child slavery, and worse. The report concludes that the government rarely took steps to punish officials guilty of these crimes, other than corruption. Either Dr. Tedros was complicit in his government’s actions, willing to turn a blind eye towards massive human rights violations, or he was too naïve to see what was happening right under his nose. Either way, to be promoted to head of the WHO with such a track record raises some very serious questions.
During the election campaign to win the WHO top spot, Tedros was called out for his participation in a government rife with crime. He responded that some of the human rights violations were serious mistakes, but that Ethiopia was a “nascent democracy” experiencing growing pains.
As a key leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (a wing of the Marxist-rooted Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front), Tedros bears at least some responsibility for the brutal violence meted out on his people. Why would he be involved in such a government if not for ideology?
Upon his election to leader of the WHO, one of the good doctor’s first acts was seen as a mark of gratitude to his Chinese Communist Party friends: He recommended the Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe as a Goodwill Ambassador.
Mugabe was more than just a rogue dictator; he was heavily backed by China throughout his lengthy term as absolute ruler. He oversaw mass-murder, political executions, human rights abuse, and corruption on a scale not seen elsewhere in modern history. What could have possessed Tedros to make him the public face of the WHO, if not ideology? This honorific position was eventually canceled.
The actions of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus suggest his career has been one extended mission to advance his ideology. From working hand in hand with Marxist governments that starved, abused, and dehumanized their citizens, to his latest appointment at the World Health Organization, where he has done all in his power to run cover for communist regimes. If, as it appears, Tedros is using his position to fulfill his own political agenda, it could be the world that suffers.
Should the U.S. withhold funding from the WHO? Until it gets new management, that seems a sensible idea.
Read more from Mark Angelides.
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