President Trump is threatening to freeze and re-evaluate the U.S.’s financial contributions to the U.N.’s World Health Organization. The President charges that under Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO has been “China-centric” (for once the President is guilty of understatement).
The WHO kowtowed to China’s Communist government, trying to help it hide facts and escape culpability for the virus’ spread. If Tedros had declared a pandemic earlier, the response from other countries would have come quicker and the spread likely would have been reduced.
The U.S. is WHO’s biggest financial backer—in excess of $400 million last year, while China kicked in only around $44 million. Tedros probably knows that Trump isn’t the sort of president who makes idle threats. And Trump’s base would love to see the U.S. send less money to the United Nations.
So, a lot is at stake for Tedros. So, what does he do? He plays the race card. Tedros seems to be trying to dismiss the all too legitimate criticism by charging racism—with lots of bluster.
‘I can tell you personal attacks that have been going on for more than two, three months. Abuses, or racist comments, giving me names, black or Negro. I’m proud of being black, proud of being Negro,” he told reporters on a conference call from the organization’s Geneva headquarters on Wednesday. “I don’t care to be honest … even death threats. I don’t give a damn.”
If Tedros is receiving racist insults, we condemn that. Racism is always vicious. In this case, it would be not only vicious but outstandingly stupid, as it could deflect from the WHO’s very real shortcomings. It is high time that Tedros and his agency receive due scrutiny.
Lanhee J. Chen of the Hoover Institution and Stanford University explains in today’s Wall Street Journal:
The World Health Organization isn’t just “China centric,” as President Trump called it on Tuesday. It is also broken and compromised. The WHO fell short in its dithering reaction to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which claimed more than 11,000 lives. Now its response to the coronavirus pandemic shows it is willing to put politics ahead of public health. The way the WHO has consistently acted to placate China’s leaders makes clear the need for fundamental reform.
. . .
While Washington pays, Beijing works behind the scenes to influence WHO leaders. The current director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was backed strongly by the Chinese government during his campaign for the job. Mr. Tedros was a controversial pick, dogged by allegations of having covered up cholera outbreaks in his native Ethiopia, where he served as health minister (2005-12) and foreign minister (2012-16). During those years, China invested in Ethiopia and lent it billions of dollars. Shortly after winning his WHO election, Mr. Tedros traveled to Beijing and lauded the country’s health-care system: “We can all learn something from China.”
Under Mr. Tedros’s leadership, the WHO has accepted China’s falsehoods about the coronavirus and helped launder them into respectable-looking public-health assessments.
Tedros probably knows that Trump is that rarity, a U.S. president who really would cut the U.S.’s contributions to WHO. Senator Lindsey Graham and other GOP lawmakers are joining the President in this.
Chen notes that the U.S. has enormous leverage and that, if it cannot get WHO to reform, it has the ability to walk away and start an alternative. The U.S. is holding all the cards (400 million cards, to be specific). This is no time to let Tedros off the hook because he calls people racist.
And I seriously doubt that President Trump, whom the left has called every ugly name in the book, is going to be bullied. Tedros really should give a damn this time.