While the European states are learning about the agonies of little nations, the United States are learning about the agony of a big nation. As the overflow of covid-19 bodies starts to hit the American fan, Orange Eye is reaching out as only he can, to find someone to blame. C.h.i.n.a and WHO both got it in the neck. “The W.H.O. really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look,” Donald Trump tweeted yesterday. Orange Eye was turning red. Very red.
WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is an easy target to take a pop at. For a start, he is a proper doctor, with a doctorate, but not a medical doctor. The sub-text is that putting a non-medic in charge of WHO is like putting an army general in charge of an aircraft carrier. No one should be surprised when the carrier ends up on the rocks. Second, he has the misfortune, hardly his own fault, to have a name that sounds as if it has been dreamt up by Peter Cook, or possibly P G Wodehouse. Even better, before he became WHO’s DG, he was a African politician, and, to boot, a member of a political party with a dubious past, albeit somewhat historical. Here in Blighty it is the stuff of a Graham Greene novel —Our Man in Wuhan, perhaps — but in America it is the stuff of a thousand Trumps, all calling for him to go.
Dr No is certainly no fan of WHO. It is top heavy, overly bureaucratic, and too often it has seemed that its mission is to keep Xerox in business, by coordinating the hum of a thousand photocopiers at its Geneva headquarters. Its early reaction to the covid-19 crisis was like an elderly hippopotamus getting up for an early morning stroll. It is also true that Dr Ted praised the Chinese for their transparency, perhaps failing to appreciate that when the Chinese say may you live in transparent times, they may be just be calling in Chamberlain’s Chinese Curse, and re-working it to their own ends.
Like a hungry fox in want of a meal, Orange Eye is a president in want of a scapegoat. Dr No takes a more sanguine view. Any information from China, once duly screened for interesting transparencies, is better than no information. International collaboration in the face of a pandemic is essential; any interference in collaboration is reckless and foolish. Orange Eye should STFU.