We may not like what President Donald Trump is saying about WHO, China and the world at large, in fact we do not like it at all, but he has a point, and acknowledging that would empower us to address him in earnest, with honesty and efficiency.
The world is led by two things: Bombs and Dollars; a carrot and a stick. The UN is no different. While the strong prefer to see the world the way it is, the weak prefer to paint themselves a picture, and complain whenever reality fails to meet their imagination. This self-infused bipolar syndrome is in fact in the interest of the strong, for it keeps the weak in a permanent state of sedation, exposing them to exploitation.
Africans seem to wish for a kinder master: China. Those are the side-effects of the above mentioned syndrome. Images of mistreatment of Africans in China two days ago, give us just a taste of how that would work out, and confirm ancient wisdom, that a new master is as oppressive, if not more, than the hitherto, and that one is best served but by oneself.
For all his sins, Donald Trump has the merit of removing the vail, and finally speaking the language of truth: money: If his government gives more of it to the UN, it should get better treatment at the UN, and it does. It is known to everyone that big contributors get VIP seats at charity events.
His premise isn’t skewed, it is just uncomfortable. Acknowledging it will empower us to break it down to him that hefty UN contracts go to Americans firms, that the UN Headquarters are based in the United States, that American citizens occupy top positions in UN agencies and that UN member States are incapable of adopting international sanctions against the US and its allies, let alone enforce them. In other words, the United States get good return on their investment in international systems. The US and its allies can and do violate international law frequently with no consequences, while the rest of us remain its prisoners.
We should be justified to point out that Trump’s decision to cut WHO funding will affect America more than it will affect the UN. The World Health Organization (WHO) and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus its Executive Director will survive without US money.
Dr. Tedros is employed by the UN General Assembly and his direct boss is the UN Secretary General. Both entities find his performance outstanding in response to the new Corona Virus. Any resolution initiated by Trump in the UN Security Council to have him removed would manage two out of five votes at best, the UK likely to vote with the US – which is insufficient. In other words, Dr. Tedros is untouchable, in fact, he might outlive Trump. Furthermore, while the US contribution accounts for around 25% of WHO budget, UN agencies are capable of fundraising on a bilateral basis, and China, which seems to be the source of WHO’s misery hasn’t said its last word. The UN has been served to China on a silver platter, and it is theirs for the taking: a colossal strategic error by President Donald Trump, and an uncertain prospect for the rest of the world.
Where does that leave Africa? Africans would be inspired to learn a thing or two from Donald Trump. That this world isn’t as flat as they wish it to be, that no one hates or loves them, that all nations of the world, except Africans, are enlisted in a race for ever more influence, and that it is high time Africans too get their act together and join in, instead of complaining from the sidelines.
Let me illustrate: When India initiated its atomic program, the balance of the region had been tipped in its favor and it was only a matter of time before the Kashmir region would be unilaterally annexed, and that Pakistan as we know it would cease to exist.
From then on, ‘Alea iacta est’ (The die had been cast). In 1965, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan announced: ‘If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass and leaves for a thousand years, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own. The Christians have the bomb, the Jews have the bomb and now the Hindus have the bomb. Why not the Muslims too have the bomb?’
And they did! in January 1972, Pakistan rallied academic scientists to build an atomic bomb for national survival, and on 28 May 1998, a few weeks after India’s second nuclear test Pakistan detonated five nuclear devices of its own. The bomb wasn’t for offensive purposes, they said: it was for ‘nuclear deterrence capability’. Following the tests, the US and Japan imposed sanctions on India, which have since been lifted…
Africans have been weak and divided: Two capital sins that never allowed them to have bombs and money: the only two things that rule the world. Yet they have leverage. The uranium that was used in the two infamous American bombs was fetched from the DRC. If one African country attempted to develop the bomb alone, like Libya did, they would be eradicated from the face of the earth. But if Africa as a continent developed a joint bomb and established a ‘nuclear deterrence post’ somewhere, say atop Mount Kilimanjaro, no single country would be sanctioned, the continent would be secure and NATO forces wouldn’t dare bomb one of us with impunity.
President Trump is reading from a script – written by his liberal critics: As we are all know, no western media, or expert ever says anything about Africa without slipping in the magic sentence: ‘we give them aid’.
But Africa doesn’t need western aid, Africa needs to be organized. Aid represents a meagre two percent of Africa’s GDP. In contrast, there is more; much more capital flight from Africa to the West: around 45 percent of the continent’s GDP. If France says it is withdrawing aid to west Africa, the right rejoinder isn’t to appeal to Macron’s solidarity, it is to warn them that if they do, Africa will kick out Areva, Bolloré and Total.
But French President Emmanuel Macron is a reasonable man, Trump is the bully. The effective way to deal with a bully is standing up to them, not appealing to their non-existent generosity. The world shall weather this challenge, Dr. Tedros shall not resign and WHO will be funded. But Americans shouldn’t be surprised that the next UN resolutions are against Hong Kong…
Lately, African leaders and thinkers have been speaking with a common voice on international matters. We welcome this. But they remain weak as long as they do not have the bomb, nor the money; to quote Nelson Mandela: ‘a person in chains does not negotiate’. Arabs have their bomb and their money, while Africans continue to outsource our existence to chance, and goodwill. Amid a global crisis, it is incumbent upon Africans to not be comfortably numb, to borrow a quote from a European statesman, Winston Churchill: ‘let’s not let a good crisis go to waste’.