In an uncompromising letter to the World Health Organization on Monday, President Donald Trump warned that this month’s pause in U.S. funding would be made permanent if the UN agency does not take significant steps to change in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Accusing the WHO of putting allegiance to China above the needs of the world, President Trump said that the organization has one month to make “major” improvements or face the financial consequences.
“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump wrote. “The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.
“My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization,” the president continued. “But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste. That is why it is my duty, as President of the United States, to inform you that, if the World Health Organization does not commit 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 cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests.”
In January, just as global governments and health officials had a golden opportunity to stop the coronavirus in its tracks, the WHO was taking Chinese propaganda and disseminating it as fact. That included uncritically telling the world that there was “no evidence of person-to-person transmission” of the disease. It also included advising countries to keep their borders open and trade flowing. The eventual economic and health cost this bad advice had…well, it may be incalculable.
“We must be frank about one of the primary reasons that this outbreak spun out of control,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Monday. “There was a failure by this organization to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives.”
The WHO’s bizarre deference to China has been the subject of speculation for months; this week, however, a CIA report shed some light on the madness. According to the report, Chinese leaders threatened to cut ties with the WHO’s coronavirus investigative team if the agency went public with a global health warning. Meanwhile, China was using the delay to stock up on medical supplies from countries all over the world – including the U.S.
Unless and until the WHO can provide a documented denial of these allegations, the U.S. has no reasonable choice but to leave the organization behind.