President Donald Trump has sent a scathing letter to the head of the World Health Organization, demanding major reforms. In a blow by blow account of the apparent failings of the institution, the president details every misstep in its Coronavirus response and makes clear that failure to cooperate with his demands will result in a permanent suspension of funds from the United States and a possible withdrawal.
Has the president initiated a battle of wills that will result in “substantive reform,” or has he opened a can of worms that the WHO-friendly media will use as a political cudgel?
A Series of Unfortunate Events?
The letter, addressed to Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, begins by outlining what the president deems as a mix of misguided, corrupt, and incompetent actions. With 16 bullet-point attacks, a case is made that shows the WHO not only exacerbated the COVID-19 impact but also ran cover for the Chinese Communist Party.
That Dr. Tedros may be using his role as the leader of the world’s primary health service to advance his personal agenda was first detailed in an article on Liberty Nation that explored his ideological bias and work with Ethiopia’s communist regime. The dissection of the WHO’s role in dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak focuses its ire on the head honcho rather than the organization, suggesting that the president shares this view.
The Chinese Question
The president writes:
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world. The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.”
This is at the heart of the attack. President Trump wants the WHO to disavow China, and to admit that it has been doing the Middle Kingdom’s bidding from the start. Such an admission would not only be a major political win for Trump but would also act as a bulwark against criticism that he himself is responsible for the devastating fallout of the Coronavirus in the U.S.
A Threat or a Gambit?
The threat is clear and concise. Either Dr. Tedros goes, or the largest benefactor will be pulling the plug on the cash. The letter concludes:
“… if the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization. I can not allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests.”
But perhaps even more worrisome for the WHO is that if the U.S. withdraws its cooperation, it will be unable to gather the information it requires to enact global responses; if it can’t collect and collate, it can’t function.
The WHO has a choice to make. It can either acquiesce to Trump’s demands, or it can bide its time, hoping that November will bring a different government or that anti-Trump advocates will make a case in its favor. It would be all too easy to become distracted by the focus on the organization itself; the real battle is in the spin destined to come from the Democrat-friendly media. This is a game of political chicken that only one side can win. While the political left will undoubtedly castigate the president for making a “bullying” or “rash” decision, it is unlikely that they will address the valid points the commander in chief makes.
It is on the verge of becoming an electoral issue that will force the 2020 presidential candidates to choose a side: either they back an organization that kowtows to Chinese communists, or they campaign to create a World Health Organization that is free from political corruption and interference.
Perhaps this was President Trump’s plan all along.
Read more from Mark Angelides.