US suspends payments to WHO

President Trump on Tuesday put US contributions to the World Health Organization on hold pending a review of the role played by the WHO in the "poor handling and cover-up of the spread of coronavirus". Commentators find criticism of the organisation appropriate but take very different views of Trump's decision.

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The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Trump is right

Trump's critics are blinded by their obsessive negative attitude towards the US president, The Daily Telegraph criticises:

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) failed in its basic function of stopping localised epidemics becoming pandemics. Health officials in Taiwan say the WHO did not pass on the warning they gave last December about a new coronavirus with human-to-human transmission. … Yet Donald Trump is the only world leader who has been prepared to point the finger at the WHO's failings. … It says much about the anti-Trump obsession of his detractors that even as thousands die and economies crash, they should choose to turn on the American president rather than recognise where true culpability resides.”

El Mundo (ES) /

A new scapegoat

With his overreaction to the shortcomings of the WHO the US president is trying to divert attention from his own failure, El Mundo says:

“Like any other institution serving the citizens, the WHO should be subject to monitoring and criticism. And the points of criticism are clear: from the lack of neutrality in the reports on China at the beginning of the pandemic to the major contradictions in its health protocols and recommendations. Its crisis management left much to be desired and those responsible must therefore be held accountable in due course. But none of this changes the fact that Trump's disproportionate response is merely a diversionary populist manoeuvre - presenting a scapegoat - to cover up his own belated and improvised crisis management.”

Berlingske (DK) /

Other countries must step in to fill the gap

As far as the scale of the pandemic goes the US president needs to clean up his own back yard, Berlingske comments:

“Trump is entirely responsible for the spread of the virus in the US. Enough information was made available, including by the WHO, to help the US prepare for the coronavirus. Now other countries must act responsibly and take over the American payments to the WHO. Of course we must take a critical look at the WHO's positions on China, but if the organisation didn't exist we'd have to invent it. We're in the midst of a health crisis that has made us realise just how much we depend on one another.”

Polityka (PL) /

Shooting the West in the foot

Trump is increasing Beijing's influence, Polityka points out:

“China currently has control over four of the fifteen specialized UN organizations. Last August a Chinese person became director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). His compatriots are at the head of the Telecommunications, Industrial Development and International Civil Aviation agencies. The further the US withdraws from the UN system, the more China's influence will grow. And as we know, he who pays the piper calls the tune. From this perspective the US's wihdrawal from the WHO amounts to shooting the entire West in the foot.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Pandemic accelerating US's self-isolation

Hospodářské noviny is not surprised by Trump's decision:

“This approach is similar to the one he took against the World Trade Organization, another instrument of effective global cooperation. In the firm belief that the US can negotiate better bilateral agreements, Washington first weakened the WTO's position and then a trade war broke out with Beijing. ... The United States under Trump's leadership has no interest in being an active global player. It only wants to defend its fortress under the motto 'America first'. We are witnessing America's withdrawal from the world stage. A process that began even before the pandemic. The latter is only accelerating it.”