By Elisabeth Hellenbroich
This year’s 73rd annual conference of the WHO which took place in Geneva (May 18/19) exposed a deep split between the USA on the one side under President Trump and the 194 members of the WHO.. The conference ended with a final resolution that was adopted by the majority of the WHO, calling for a “non- partisan, independent and complete evaluation” concerning the “outbreak of the virus” and invoking the spirit of solidarity.
The US government under President Trump has completely discredited the US by launching a “proxy war” with China, rather than focusing on a “common” fight against the virus. This puts doubts on the US reputation as defender of “human rights” and leader of the Western World. Instead of being present with a video message at this year’s 73rd WHO conference, and in the midst of the worst human species threatening virus, Trump sent a letter to the WHO, threatening to “disrupt” the WHO. He attacked the organization for basically “covering” up the true dimension of the Corona pandemic, as well accused them not to have criticized China for its initial cover up and that in their warning and recommendations they submitted too much to China’s pressure.
The WHO warned on the 30th January
In his opening remarks to the Conference, WHO General Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the global economy is headed for its sharpest contraction since the Great Depression: “This contagion exposes the fault lines, inequalities, injustice and contradictions of our modern world,” the WHO General Director said. In a direct response to the attack from the American President Trump, he underlined, that the “WHO sounded the alarm early and often: We notified countries, issued guidance for health workers within 10 days, and declared global health emergency – our highest level of alert- on the 30th of January. At that time there were less than 100 cases and no deaths outside China. (The director of the Chinese Supreme Epidemic Control Board, Gao Fu, already on January 3rd informed his American colleague Robert Redfield, according to the FAZ from 22nd of May.)
Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a constructive Video message from Beijing, on May 18th in which he underlined that China “had provided information to the WHO and relevant countries in a most timely fashion: We have released the genome sequence at the earliest possible time. We have shared control and treatment experience with the world without reservation. We have done everything in our power to support and assist countries in need.” While it is true that China’s government for some weeks after the outbreak of the Corona- virus hesitated too much in alerting the world, the proposals made by President Xi Jinping at the conference deserve attention: The Chinese president proposed: 1.Continuing “support of global research by scientists on the source and transmission routes of the virus;” 2. He called on the international community and emphasized China’s commitment to “increase political and financial support for the WHO so as to mobilize resources worldwide to defeat the virus”; “substantial support should also be provided for Africa”; 3. For the sake of boosting international cooperation against Covid -19, President Xi Jinping announced that “China will provide US $ 2 Billion over two years to help with Covid-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries”; 4. He proposed that Covid -19 vaccine development and deployment in China “when available, will be made a global public good”. This will be Chinas contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.(…) “ China will work with other G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension for the poorest countries.”
Macron and Merkel: Development of an anti Corona- vaccine as a “Public Good”
Constructive speeches were also given by French President Emanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (preceding the WHO meeting, both heads of state had agreed upon an Economic Recovery Plan of 500 Billion Euro credit lines issued by the EU budget, in order to rebuild the EU economy). Macron announced that, since we need a strong WHO, “France has decided to substantially strengthen the financial support for the WHO.” He also emphasized that if a vaccine will be discovered against Covid -19 “it will be very much a public Good”. German Chancellor Merkel underlined that no “country alone could solve the resent global crisis” and referred to last year’s UN General Assembly which adopted a “Global Action Plan for a healthy life and the well- being of all men.” This includes a better pre-warning mechanism and preventive measures, more research cooperation and more robust health systems. “The World Health Organization is the legitimate global institution where all threads come together,” Merkel said. This should involve a sustainable financing system, improved diagnostics, therapeutics and a “vaccine which must be accessible for all” , and encouraged everybody to “contribute to the global Good.”
How the US destroys its economy and health system
According to observers and reports from the US, despite the ranting of Donald Trump who basically threatens “war” against China and strategically wants to intimidate the EU, the brutal reality of the US is, that it has the highest infection rate world wide- which stands at more than 1,5 Mio infected and 100.000 victims. Overall 30 Mio Americans (!) have no job, every fifth among them has pledged for unemployment benefit.
Trump however is shamelessly lying to the world, since he doesn’t really care about the WHO but in the “Corona crisis, the first big conflict of the post American world” (Jörg Lau in DIE ZEIT, 20.05.), he has decided to play “proxy war” with China”, which also puts the EU under pressure. His only obsession at this point is to get “reelected” as President.
People in the US are “paralyzed” while being confronted with the “worst” of all situations, observers report. For a large number of people unemployment benefits have not yet arrived since March. Millions of people have no money, while “food lines” of cars in the area around New York and New Jersey extend for many miles and after having waited for 10 hours, they are often told that they have run out of food.
In a website article “Naked Capitalism” (May 7th) Yves Smith documented that according to recent “Brookings study” performed by Lauren Bauer, based on an April survey, 40% of the households with children don’t have enough food (!) and over 1/6 of the children under 12 aren’t being fed enough.(…) Given the way the questions were phrased, children may be even in worse shape than these results suggest, since some respondents might not want to admit that their kid are going hungry” the article reported. Even more absurd is the fact that all over the US milk farmers are “dumping” milk and “destroy” fresh products for “lack” of demand or “lack” of means for shipping the product.(!)
As one observer reported, many people in the US have no “safety nets” since these have been significantly thinned out by “the mean spirited, stingy cost-cutting, anti- poor policies.” Some 48 US Federal States are in the process of relaxing the restriction measures, yet the majority of them have not met the established guidelines for doing so. The guidelines for doing so, is the underlying idea in much of republican ideology, namely to “let immunity establish itself and who cares about the minorities, native Americans and elderly Americans that will be sacrificed.” There are no testing, tracing and tracking capabilities that an opening of the economy requires.
Trump’s reckless fight for financial profit- what he learnt from Roy Cohn
As many US observers state at this point, President Trump is the biggest problem in all this. With his “China bashing” he has not only unleashed a new geopolitical conflict with China, to the detriment of the EU, but he also personally denies the reality about Corona. In a recent press conference he boasted (or maybe he lied), that he is treating himself with the anti- Malaria product “hydroxychloroquine”, which is very much put into question by serious scientists.
A closer look at his ideology shows that he is in a constant state of denial, while trying to blame outside forces. He very much follows what he learnt as a devout apprentice of the notorious New York mobster lawyer Roy Cohn, who in 1973 introduced Trump (at that time real estate developer ) into the New York City’s power circle. Aside having been assistant for McCarthy during the infamous anticommunist witch- hunt hearing (1953), Roy Cohn was lawyer for the most prominent Mafia figures including the Genovese and Gambino mafia families, Anthony Salerno, Carmine Galante and John Gotti. As the US magazine Vanity Fair reported in summer 2017, Trump learned from Roy Cohn the tactic :1:“Never settle, never surrender; counterattack; 2.”counter- sue immediately;”3. “No matter what happens, no matter how deeply into the muck you get, claim victory and never admit defeat.”
President Trump is basically obsessed with the financial markets. As an article in “Homeland security News Wire” (April 10, 2020) entitled “The Economic Recovery won’t only be U-Shape-It’ll look like a wheelbarrow”, reported, most of the stock market profits was by the big 5 FAAMG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google- Alphabet). “These tech goliaths account for around one fifth of the total value of the S& P 500. Most disturbingly, US corporate debt was rated BBB, just above junk, going into the crisis.” (“For example a huge name like Kraft Heinz was downgraded to junk in February(!)”
Jared Kushner and his “Shadow Coordinating Unit” of “Private Equity” firms
“Why Private Equity is cutting Doctor pay and organizing our pandemic response”, was the title of an article written by Matt Stoll (senior financial analyst) for the Newsletter BIG on April 5th, in which the author described the special role given to Jared Kushner (son in law of Trump), who is surrounded by many Private Equity firms, in response to the pandemic. According to the article Jared Kushner is running a “shadow coordinating unit” from the White House putting the top civil servants out and “cutting deals with private industry” to try and organize an aggressive response. There are roughly 4000 private Equity Funds, according to the article, that control about $ 5 trillion worth of corporations, which is the sixth of the total value of all the US public companies. The industry has exploded since 2000. “Today the number of private equity owned firms outnumbers the number of public companies, and private equity is more significant as a source of financing than initial public offerings in the stock market.”
Stoll reported that the PE “buy up companies, use some money from investor usually insurance and pension and invest it, but they often borrow money to finance the take- over (Steve Feinberg of Cerberus Capital is such PE and got his start under Michael Milken and Drexel). Stoll underlined that “In this pandemic, private equity executives are indeed ripping the throat out of anyone they can, exploiting whatever market power they have. Feinberg’s “Cerberus” threatened to close down a hospital it owes in Pennsylvania if the state didn’t offer to assume $24 million in expenses. Another Private Equity baron, Joel Freedman, bought Philadelphia’s Hahnemann University Hospital in 2018, in a comical display of greed. The hospital served the poor, and Freedman closed it down so he could use the land to build luxury apartments. When the city recently asked to use the empty hospital during the pandemic, Freedman demanded $ 1 Mio /month in rent.”(!)
It is further reported that for a variety of sleazy reasons, Private Equity is pushing for pay “cuts for doctors and nurses on the front lines”: “Private Equity funds own physician staffing services , which means doctors in American hospitals are often employed not by the hospital directly but by a third party firm. This pandemic is radically cutting the profitability of hospitals, because hospitals are reducing the more lucrative procedures in favor of treating Coronavirus patients. So these firms are pushing pay cuts to their own doctors.” So it may be that “Private equity can be the big winners from Covid -19 sell off.” Stoll further commented that “unlike industrial leader during World war II, private equity executives today are divorced from the process of production” and characterized Jared Kushner as a “coddled second generation slumlord. His contacts are similarly divorced from the real world. These men speak the language of public relations and finance, not production, treatment of logistics.”