Issued on April 18, 2020, by former Ambassador Mohamed Ibrahim Hsairi.
Translated by Anouar Ben Messaoud
On Tuesday, April 14, the eccentric American President Donald Trump announced that he decided to suspend his country’s funding to the World Health Organization (WHO).
He justified this decision by what he called the Organization’s “mismanagement” of the coronavirus crisis, claiming that the WHO tended to obscure the outbreak of the virus, underestimated the threat that it posed and delayed in sounding the alarm to alert the world to the possibility of its spread. Therefore, in his opinion, the WHO failed to fulfill its fundamental duty and deserved to be held accountable.
He even went further when he accused the Organization of siding with China, despite that China’s funding to the WHO over the past year ($40 million) is ten times less than the United States’ contribution ($452 million) in the same year.
Without going into discussing these excuses which the WHO Director-General did not comment on, but rather limited his answer by calling for not to politicize the virus, I believe that the decision of the eccentric American President did not surprise anyone. Nonetheless, as the United Nations’ Secretary-General said, now is “not the time” to cut the resources of the World Health Organization, which is spearheading the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
In my opinion, the decision was expected sooner or later, because the eccentric American President dealt with the virus with his arrogant attitude and insisted on calling it the Chinese virus, thinking that the United States would be safe from it. Therefore, it was natural for him to seek a subterfuge to cover up the tragedy’s responsibility that his country is currently going through. A tragedy that has put his country at the top of the list of countries affected by the “Covid-19 pandemic.”
The eccentric American President whom I called “The Washington Merchant” in some of my essays (because of his similar conduct with that of the Merchant of Venice, in Shakespeare’s famous play), is used to combine in his approach when dealing with all kinds of issues, whether internal or external, his usual condescending style and the logic of profit. He handles issues only from the perspective of deals that he should win, or that he should win over his opposing side.
From this standpoint, his decision came in line with the approach that he had chosen for himself since he took office at the White House, or even since his election campaign during which he warned that he intends to “change decades of American policy”, and would pursue a policy that is different from the ones used by his predecessors when he deals with the United Nations and its institutions and the rest of other international organizations and agreements.
This policy was evident in a series of various and similar decisions he made over the past forty months of his mandate. The most important ones can be summarized as follows:
1) The eccentric American President and the United Nations Organization:
The eccentric American President who adopted the “America first” slogan, and who constantly complained about the huge amounts of money that his country provides to international organizations, confirmed that he is not an admirer of the U.N. System, which he once described on Twitter by writing: “The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”
He repeatedly mentioned, along with many top officials in his administration, the weakness and inefficiency of the United Nations and he also repeated on numerous occasions that the United Nations “has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement.”
Therefore, he called for taking a “bold stand” against the U.N. in order to change the way it works instead of “sticking to the methods that proved its failure.”
Additionally, he has never stopped complaining about what he called the U.N. “excessive expenses” saying that the Organization “spends more money than it should,” which places a heavy financial burden on the United States that is significantly higher than other countries. He said the U.S. “will neither allow to continue exploiting the generosity of the American people, nor leave their contribution unmonitored”.
Monitoring in this context means that the U.S. will exert pressure on the U.N. to reduce its expenses and its inflated management functions, while to continue holding it accountable. But, in parallel with that, the U.S. will not keep on bearing the expenses of an organization whose members vote against American positions especially when it is related to the Palestinian cause.
Indeed, after threatening the U.N. and its member States to cut the U.S. contribution, Washington began reducing its funding to the U.N. since 2017, which represents %22 of the Organization’s total budget. The United States have also proceeded in reducing their contribution to peacekeeping operations, which in turn accounts for %28.5 of the funding amount allocated to these operations worldwide.
2) The eccentric American President and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):
On October 12, 2017, exactly nine months after his accession to the presidency, the eccentric President Donald Trump who is completely biased in favor of Israel, decided to withdraw his country from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and to halt the U.S. contribution to it. The U.S. claimed that the Organization was “hostile to Israel” and which in turn described the UNESCO as “a tampering theater that would distort history, rather than preserve it.”
Although the tension between the United States and the UNESCO was strained for various reasons in several periods in the past, President Donald Trump based his decision on resolutions that had been adopted by the UNESCO regarding the inclusion of the occupied Old City of Jerusalem and its walls in the list of at-risk sites in the world (2016), and because of considering the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Buraq (western) Wall, which the Jews call “Wailing Wall,” as pure Islamic heritage and thus denying any religious association with the Jews. The (U.S.-UNESCO) tension was also caused by the UNESCO’s Executive Board vote in 2017, on a resolution confirming previous resolutions regarding Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem and rejecting its sovereignty over it.
3) The eccentric American President and the Palestinian cause:
As soon as he took office, Donald Trump waged a brutal war on the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people. The war reached its peak on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, when he announced what he called the “Deal of the Century.” He confidently defined it as a different plan from former American administrations’ plans by saying that, “it provides an opportunity for the Palestinians and Israelis, within the two-state solution.”
Besides, in preparation to this “historic” step and before reaching it, he made many decisions that overrode international law resolutions, and which canceled all inalienable rights of the Palestinians and also changed the legal status of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and even of some other Arab occupied lands.
One of those decisions was the one that he announced in December 2017, and which was the most notable and most painful one for the Palestinians and Arabs, when he recognized the occupied Jerusalem as the capital of “Israel”.
Although the United Nations Organization subsequently adopted a resolution in which it considered that any measures that aim at changing the character of this holy city shall be “null and void,” he carried on moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018.
And to put further pressure on the Palestinian side, he decided in September 2018 to close the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington D.C. and to expel its leader, which he had previously threatened to do in November 2017 if the PLO “did not participate in direct and meaningful negotiations to reach a peace agreement with Israel.”
4) The eccentric American President and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA):
In the context of tightening procedures that are imposed on the Palestinian people to force it resume negotiations under Israeli conditions, he decided to freeze one-third of the U.S. annual donation to UNRWA ($125 million), just one month after declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel. A decision which led the agency into a financial crisis that affected its work in the five asylum fields of operations, specifically in the Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2006.
In May 2018, the American administration implemented Donald Trump’s order to transferring more than $200 million of economic aid, which had been dedicated to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, to projects in other places. And in September 2018, the U.S. State Department also withheld $25 million that was due to be provided as assistance to Palestinian hospitals in Jerusalem.
The eccentric American President justified these measures in one of his tweets by writing: “Why should we make any of these massive future payments to the Palestinians while they refuse to engage in long-term peace negotiations with Israel?”
Worse than that is the fact that the American administration explicitly announced that the decision aims at forcing the Palestinian National Authority to stop giving aids to the families of martyrs, injured people and prisoners, because Washington classify them all as terrorists.
5) The eccentric American President and the Syrian Golan:
In parallel with the announcement made on November 18, 2018, which states that Washington no longer considers Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands (in the West Bank) as “violation of international law” and that it would leave it to Palestinians and Israelis to resolve their dispute over settlements, Donald Trump signed an executive order on March 25, 2019, where he officially recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, as if they were his properties.
In doing so, the United States which illegally intervened in Syria by striking several Syrian sites on more than one occasion under various unproven pretexts, and which deployed American forces that have been present in some parts of Syria’s territories, ended up serving Israel’s decision of 1981 to annex the Golan Heights to its territories.
6) The eccentric American President and the Iranian nuclear deal:
On May 8, 2018, the United States decided to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the “Iranian nuclear agreement” that was reached in June 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 Group (i.e. China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States in addition to Germany) .
This withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement was criticized by the United States’ partners as well as many other countries, especially because it was accompanied by unprecedented tightening of sanctions on Iran and the imposition of punishments on any country that would violate the U.S. embargo imposed on Iran.
This unjust embargo, which is similar to the unjust ones imposed on Syria and the Gaza Strip, was “criminalized” by human rights and humanitarian organizations because it worsened the crisis resulting from the spread of the “Covid-19” pandemic in the above-mentioned countries, which have been unable to be equipped to face the pandemic.
7) The eccentric American President and the global trade body (WTO):
The eccentric American President also threatened to pull the United States out of the World Trade Organization (WTO) if it does not improve its unfair treatment towards his country, saying that the 1994 agreement to establish the WTO “was the single worst trade deal ever made.”
He announced in a press conference following his participation in the annual World Economic Forum conference in Davos last January, that he had talks with the WTO’s Director-General on reforming the structure of the organization. He underscored that he meant a “completely new structure” of the organization, because he considers that the WTO has been treating China better than his country for many years.
The eccentric American President has been engaged in exerting pressure on the WTO in order to change its lenient way when dealing with a number of countries that compete with the United States, particularly China, by saying that it tops the countries that “cheat” the WTO’s system by unfairly benefiting from profits that the organization’s system provides to China despite its economic power that places it among developed, rich or influential countries.
In this context, he said in a tweet: “The WTO is BROKEN when the world’s RICHEST countries claim to be developing countries to avoid WTO rules and get special treatment. NO more!!! Today I directed the U.S. Trade Representative to take action so that countries stop CHEATING the system at the expense of the USA!”
8) The eccentric American President and the Paris Climate Agreement:
On the other hand, the eccentric American President announced on June 1, 2017, the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, and affirmed in a speech that he delivered from the White House Rose Garden that he can’t let anything stand in the way of “reviving the American economy”.
This announcement was made to implement the slogan of “defending American jobs” that he raised during his election campaign, and which he sees its embodiment through the refrainment of the United States from committing to hard financial and economic restrictions mentioned in the Paris Agreement.
While he questioned the positive impact the Paris Agreement would have on climate, he criticized it by saying the agreement “is not firm enough with China and India.” For all these reasons, he announced that “It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania… before Paris, France.”
Indeed, in November 2019, the United States officially informed the United Nations Secretary-General of its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, which makes it the “only major economic power” to pull out of the agreement.
All these decisions, as well as others that I haven’t mentioned, prove that since he took office to lead his country, the eccentric American President Donald Trump initiated a process that is similar to a systematic assassination against the United Nations’ System and other various organizations and international charters.
And there is no doubt that his decision to suspend his country’s financial contribution to the World Health Organization (WHO), while the world is in the midst of the turmoil in facing the “Covid-19” pandemic, constitutes a new evidence of his deliberate incursion into the above-mentioned assassination.
Unfortunately, the world has remained silent so far while watching the developments, and has acted against the decisions of the American President with lax reactions that do not amount to the seriousness of his actions which do not even show respect to friends before enemies, neither to allies before opponents. Decisions which do not care about the interests of the entire globe and humanity as a whole. This is the result of embodying the “America First” slogan and fulfilling American interests…
If this situation continues, it will likely lead to undermining the pillars of the existing world order, and the world will then enter into a state of serious chaos that will be difficult to get out of in the absence of an alternative system.
In this regard, it is important that the world breaks its silence especially in light of the American actions taken in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
If an alternative is not reached, an extremely severe disaster would befall the world if Donald Trump was re-elected for a second presidential term in November (2020), which is likely to happen. And if it did happen, it would constitute a double disaster for the United States and the entire world, exactly as the political theorist and American linguist Noam Chomsky said in a recent interview: “If Trump is reelected, it’s an indescribable disaster. It means that the policies of the past four years, which have been extremely destructive to the American population, to the world, will be continued and probably accelerated.”
Tunis, on 18/04/2020.