Donald Trump’s threat to freeze World Health Organisation funding has sparked a flurry of press interest and comment from around the globe. Not surprisingly, these hot takes on the situation range from “orange man bad” on one side of the aisle to “4-D chess” on the other. In fact, neither of these knee-jerk responses teaches us anything useful as they miss a much bigger and far more revealing picture
Whatever you might think of the President’s current attitude to the WHO, taking a step back to gain a wider view shows that far from being some Trumpian outlier, questioning the legitimacy of the WHO is in fact part of a wider pattern of dissent. The sense of weariness, disenchantment and growing hostility towards the alphabet soup agencies entrusted to run international affairs with no direct democratic mandate is now palpable, especially here in the West. Everywhere we look, nationalism is on the rise as once unimpeachable institutions are revealed to be rotten with corruption, incompetence and shameless self-interest.
This shouldn’t be surprising really, as Oscar Wilde pithily pointed out how bureaucracies primarily exist to meet their own needs and only secondly to execute the functions they were designed to carry out.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look.
The WHO is chiefly concerned with helping China look good rather than actually fighting disease and saving lives. The EU is chiefly concerned with centralising political and economic power rather than bringing the nations of Europe together. The UN is chiefly concerned with imposing supranational governance on the world under the cloak of climate alarmism. The IMF did nothing to warn us about the banking crisis until it was too late, yet still it remains. Last but not least, NATO remains frozen and fossilised some three decades after the Cold War ended (and Western liberal democracy won, by the way).
We can no longer afford to ignore the difficult questions these unpalatable truths raise, namely, have any of these vast and very expensive bureaucracies done anything to improve our lives in any tangible, meaningful way? At first asking that sounds like a ridiculous question, but think about it for ten seconds in a row. Go on…
To put it another way, is there any function these international bodies carry out that could not be achieved by voluntary cooperation and legal treaties between nation states? This question is especially relevant at the dawn of the information age.
Perhaps there was a case for these supranational bodies’ existence in the latter part of the Twentieth Century, but the truth of the matter is that they have long outlived any usefulness they once had and are now proving themselves to be a burden to human progress.
The UN can’t prevent or end conflict, the EU can’t bring nations together and the WHO can’t stop disease from spreading when it really matters.
Seriously, what’s the point in any of them?