In a scheduled press meeting at the White House, President Donald Trump was expected to lay out his plans for China – but what he delivered will have politicians and the media scrambling for weeks. Making good on his threat to demand action from the World Health Organization over its apparent ties and subservience to China, the president announced that, effective today, the U.S. will be withdrawing from 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,” wrote Trump on May 19. In a scathing letter to Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the president demanded that the WHO “demonstrate” its independence from the Chinese Communist Party. Apparently, it has failed to do so.
No More Money
President Trump outlined several reasons the United States would no longer be part of the World Health Organization. Of particular note was the issue of cash. He highlighted how much the U.S. spends compared to the Chinese, and then detailed the failures of the Chinese government to do its duty in reporting the Coronavirus outbreak openly and honestly. This was a laundry list of grievances that should make even the most avid anti-Trumper question if his government is getting value for its money.
This decision was, however, clearly not about the financial implications, but rather the politics.
A price will almost certainly be paid politically for such a move. The World Health Organization has been around since 1948 and has always presented itself as a benevolent presence – seemingly above the fray of petty world events and concerned only with health and well-being. But since Dr. Tedros became the Director-General, there is little doubt that the whole organization has become a politicized mouthpiece.
The Real Cost
It is as certain as death and taxes that Democratic Party politicians and members of the left-leaning media will hail this move as a disaster for all Americans. Fire and brimstone, perhaps even the end of days. And there will be a time to pay the piper. The question for Donald Trump is whether he can present the many questionable and possibly dangerous actions of the WHO to voters in a way that doesn’t make himself appear reckless.
Cutting ties with the leading health authority in the world amid a global pandemic is a move that is either stunningly brave or shockingly naïve. In the game of politics, it will now be up to each side to convince millions of voters that their play is the one to back.
The oddity in this is why the president would make such a potentially damaging decision right now. Some will suggest that it is to distract from the riots in Minnesota, but, in fact, Trump has been tweeting about that situation near constantly for the last 24 hours. So, why now?
Could it be that Trump knows all too well what his opponents’ reactions will be? Is he attempting to push them to side with China and, by association, the Chinese Communist Party?
In times of crisis, the playing of political games is rarely forgiven … unless you win.
Read more from Mark Angelides.