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.