KAMPALA – The United States (US) has been ruling the world for the past 130 years. The US is the perfect representation of capitalism and indeed capitalism was the reason why it took this leadership taking over from the UK from about 1890. Incidentally, the Spanish flue was the last nail in the British Empire coffin. The United States in its history has had only one parastatal, the “Tennessee Valley Authority”! Every other activity in the country is owned and managed by the private sector except for regulatory and some research activities. Even when you look at the Health sector, right now one of the challenges is if you don’t have medical insurance you will not be tested for the Coronavirus! This is the epitome of capitalism in the United States.
Coronavirus appears to be the changemaker for capitalism. Starting with the United States President, Donald Trump who appears to have messed up the management of the Coronavirus challenge. And now he has announced withdrawing of support to the World Health Organization (WHO), one of the organs of the United Nations (UN)! The United Nations was formed after World War II with a view to bringing together different countries in the world so as to have a commonness in approach on various issues, to ensure world peace and prevent conflict among nations. The World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the organs of the United Nations which is responsible for health.
Through the United Nations organizations, the countries all over the world small or big, are able to have a common approach over topical issues. They generate common solutions to address problems. And this has been going on since 1945 when the United Nations was formed. Various subsidiaries were formed including WHO. At the moment, the global coronavirus challenge has been addressed through WHO. The WHO appears now to be the source of conflict!
Of course, the United Nations has not been perfect, it has had challenges but it has achieved a lot in different fields. The United States has been the biggest funder of the UN and its subsidiaries and withdrawing funding right now from the WHO means that the activities of the WHO are going to stop. But will they stop? The new kid on the block China with all the bank balances it has maybe the new funder! Indeed China has promised US $800 million to WHO. The US has been contributing US $ 400 million! A close US ally Saudi Arabia has promised US $ 500 million after the US has withdrawn!! Whatever that means??
This may have been a big mistake by the United States to give space to China to take up a responsibility that the US has been shouldering. But this may be a pointer to some of the changes that are happening around the world which are leading to the end of the leadership of the US in Global Affairs. As this happens there has been a feeling that there is no unified action especially by the developed countries (commonly referred to as the international community) on the Coronavirus pandemic. This unified action means these countries would have come together, discussed the issues together and agreed on what they need to do together. While UN organs do their work, it common for the “international community” to also do their thing! However, as I write today it appears each country is looking inward within itself, generating its own policies of handling the pandemic. This means the existing world order is collapsing. Is coronavirus nail in the USs’ coffin?
The Italian Prime Minister was very clear when he recently came out remarking Europe may not be the same again. You could interpret it as Italy would leave the European Union! This follows the departure of Britain earlier on this year (January). Why does the Italian Prime Minister say so?? There is a feeling that Europe didn’t assist Italy when the coronavirus pandemic got out of hand in that country. So Italy feels that many of its decisions may be done as a country rather than as a region!
What holds the European Union (EU) together is the fear by small European countries of Germany’s might and domination, France knows this very well. By being part of the group, Germany cannot intimidate individual countries. Instead it is generous to all. Not supporting Italy, a country with its own pride and abilities was a mistake.it may cost the EU’s destiny.
The writer, Prof. Waswa Balunywa, is the Principal of Makerere University Business School