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US attack on WHO is a red herring to detract from “colossal leadership failure” in Washington

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    14:22, April 30, 2020

Earlier this month, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, announced that he is halting funding to the World Health Organization, saying, among other things, that the organization is “very China-centric” and “really blew it” on the coronavirus. The move followed weeks of escalating attacks on the UN health organization as he tried to push blame away from his administration.

As one of its biggest funding sources, the US decision to halt funding for the global health organization could be a major blow to its efforts to fight diseases around the globe and coordinate the pandemic response, and many people have made the point that doing so mid-pandemic is pure lunacy. Clearly, it is a desperate attempt by the Trump administration to cover up its colossal failure in handling the pandemic.

The WHO officially declared a pandemic on Mar. 11, and declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on the Jan. 30.

In fact, Trump praised the WHO early on.

Trump tweeted on Feb. 25: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

Why did the Trump administration do a U-turn on its attitude toward the WHO?

The reason lies in the dire situation in the United States. Facing fierce criticism for its poor response to coronavirus, the Trump administration is using smoke and mirrors to divert attention away from the real issue. With over 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and more Americans dead from coronavirus in three months than the number of American soldiers killed in the Vietnam War, there is huge pressure to shift the blame for the disaster in the United States onto others.

The WHO, as the global guardian of public health, has a vision to allow all people enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. Among other things, it provides leadership on matters critical to health, engages in partnerships, monitors the health situation, and assesses health trends. It therefore has a key role to play in the global health response to the pandemic. Trying to crush it will only worsen an already dire situation, as the organization cannot be fully effective without the United States, and no one country can fight this battle alone.

The situation is worrying in the United States, but the reason there is “so much death” is that the Trump administration created a nightmare situation. It is a leadership issue. At the end of last month, the Boston Globe editorial board called the crisis in the United States “a colossal failure of leadership,” criticizing the Trump administration for dragging its feet on coronavirus and thus making a bad situation worse. “In other words, the president has blood on his hands,” the editorial board argued.

This is a harsh assessment, but it gets to the heart of the issue. Regardless of how much lipstick you put on a pig, it is still a pig. Blaming the WHO will not change the fact that the administration ignored warnings from health and intelligence advisers in the months Trump continued to play down the threat. In February, for example, Trump claimed that the number of cases would be close to zero in a matter of days and that the crisis would disappear like a miracle. Obviously, this did not happen. Instead, the number of cases in the United States surged.

Everyone wants to see the situation in the United States take a turn for the better, but attacking and defunding the world’s premier global health organization is nothing but a smelly red herring that detracts from the real problem at hand. That is, that a colossal leadership failure in Washington caused “so much death.”

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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