September 24, 2020

The United States Can’t Quit on the UN

When America Withdraws, China Wins

By Kristine Lee

This week, the United Nations General Assembly is holding its first-ever virtual gathering of world leaders. The event has been a complicated one for Washington. In his recorded speech before the General Assembly on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump excoriated China for its failure to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus around the world. But the inadequacies of his own administration’s response overshadowed his message. The Trump administration has turned the United States inward and retreated from the UN, most recently by precipitously withdrawing from the World Health Organization (WHO) during the pandemic.

U.S. retrenchment empowers only China.

In June, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien explained that the United States terminated its relationship with the WHO because the agency’s “response to the pandemic showed that it is beholden to China.” The administration claims to face a binary choice between withdrawing from or cooperating with UN agencies that are cowed by authoritarian interests. But the dichotomy is a false one.

Read the full article in Foreign Affairs.

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