Russia and Global Security Risks
Trump and the WHO: It Is Worse Than a Crime, It Is a Mistake

The news about the suspension of funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) by the United States has sent shockwaves, both in America and abroad. Accusations targeting the organisation were voiced personally by US President Donald Trump. In his view, the WHO is responsible for the high prevalence of COVID-19. He insists that the organisation had failed to provide adequate information on time, and that when it finally arrived, it was based on official data from China, which, according to the US leader, did not reflect the real situation. The WHO has focused on China, while the United States is its principal benefactor. Judging by Trump’s statements, the White House is waiting for a “reform” of the WHO. The parameters of such reforms were not specified. But apparently, the organisation should pay more attention to the situation in the United States.

The demarche of the American leadership has caused a mixture of bewilderment and criticism for several reasons at once.

First, the suspension of WHO funding in the midst of a pandemic threatens its effectiveness in countering COVID-19. Without a doubt, the organisation must continue active work to combat the epidemic. Perhaps the missing resources will come from other WHO programmes. It is also possible that other donors will increase their contributions. But all this will take time. Of course, the main burden for countering the epidemic lies with nation states.

However, the WHO has done a great job within its area of ​​responsibility – monitoring, processing and analysing huge amounts of data in the interests of all mankind. There is simply no alternative to the WHO as a tool for global governance in medicine and health. Freezing a share of US funding will save neither the lives of Americans, nor the lives of others. Rather, it will only increase the death toll.

Second, the US President’s accusations are built on the basis of “hindsight” – the facts that are known now, but about which there was no adequate information at the beginning of the pandemic. Both the WHO and the PRC government, as well as all other nations, are faced with a fundamentally new phenomenon. Information about the new virus is being constantly updated and changed updated and changed constantly. To give any recommendations without reliable information would be simply irresponsible. The true potential of the epidemic was unknown at the time it began. The more surprising is the accusation that WHO relied on data from the PRC government. Actually, the work of WHO is based on the information that is transmitted to it by Member States. Therefore, collaboration between WHO and the PRC government is a normal practice. The organization would have acted in a similar manner with respect to any other country. 

Third, accusations against WHO unwittingly suggest thoughts of trying to find a “scapegoat” against the background of the difficult epidemiological situation in America. It is hardly fair to speculate about the unpreparedness of the US health system for a problem of such magnitude. Many other states, including China, EU countries and Russia, were in a similar situation. However, the debate about access to healthcare for the general public in the United States has been controversial for a long time. Currently this is the most important issue on the domestic political agenda. American medical treatment ranks among the best in the world, but access to it is closely related to property status. Under normal conditions, this system has its own logic – roughly speaking, whoever earns is healed. However, in extreme conditions, when help is needed by huge masses of people, it is under serious pressure. Building a national healthcare system is the sovereign business of the United States. But laying the blame on the WHO, China or Russia will not solve the problems of US health care and is unlikely to help in the fight against the disease.

A Time for Testing: Social Science Theories
Richard Lachmann
Trump is the latest and most prominent exponent of a new nationalism. Sometimes it is asserted in civilizational terms, as when he and his closest advisors like Stephen Bannon call for limiting immigration to people from Christian Europe. More often, he means to assert American interests against all others, including Europeans. If Trump lasts in office, and he continues on his nationalist path, we will see if the strongest divides again become national.
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The attack on the WHO fits into Trump’s general doctrine of the primacy of US national interests over global or universal tasks. In the terminology of the American president, he simply rejects the “bad deal” and wants the WHO to work for America because the organisation is funded by Washington. This linear approach may work in business, but it is hardly suitable for politics. Selfishness can be costly to US national interests.

First of all, this practice will erode America’s global leadership. In the case of the WHO, others can take over this leadership – China, the European Union, India, and Russia. Moreover, they will do this not so much as to annoy Washington, as to solve common problems. Leaders are those who are able to lead in achieving a great goal, even if they have to pay more than others.

The Americans can reasonably answer that it is the United States today that is the world leader in assistance programmes. According to the State Department, the United States alone will spend $225 million to fight COVID-19 abroad, while $274 million has already been provided by the US government. The private sector and charitable organisations of America have raised $1.5 billion to fight COVID-19 abroad. Over the past 20 years, health care assistance has reached $140 billion.

All of this is true. And the Americans really did a lot. However, politics knows many examples where colossal investments were discounted by mistake at a critical moment and in a critical place. “This is worse than a crime, this is a mistake.” The aphorism attributed to Talleyrand is unlikely to have lost its relevance. Even if we are talking about such a power as the United States, whose safety margin seems to be equipped enough to write off small and large misses.
How the Pandemic Could Impact the US Elections
Andrey Sushentsov
The question remains if Biden will become the energy center of the Democrats’ campaign. Although he beat Sanders, his weak point, like Hillary Clinton’s, is his obvious elitism, affiliation with the establishment, lack of original ideas and a doubtful advantage over Trump in the election.
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