An Outsider’s View – 20-MEDIA KEEP YANKEE DOODLES IN THE DARK
Posted on September 4th, 2012

By Shelton A. Gunaratne

 The conference of nonaligned leaders in Colombo ended Aug. 20, 1976, with the adoption of a stinging warning to the world’s rich nations that they must yield more of their wealth to a new economic order, the New York Times reported. A week ago, at its 16th summit in Tehran, President Mahinda Rajapakse of Sri Lanka emphatically called on the rich nations led by the United States not to vitiate the 1996 Cartagena principles that informally defined the “structure” of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM).

The “basic” principles of NAM called on countries, inter alia, to:

?     Recognize the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations, large and small.

?     Abstainfrom intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.

?         Refrainfrom acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against another country.

?          Show respect for justice and international obligations.

Rajapakse was speaking on the right to intervene doctrine of the United Sates and itsEuropean allies in situations like the extermination of the Tamil terrorists in Sri Lanka. The State Department had expressed its dukkha (dissatisfaction) with the transparency of the action taken by the Rajapakse Government to protect the human rights of the Tamil civilians.

However, such global political developments are barely known to the ordinary Yankee Doodle, who inhabits our “land of opportunity” known for “American exceptionalism”””‚two terms I excerpted from the 2012 Republican Platform. The exceptional American mass media think that such global developments are of little interest to the Yankee Doodle who still thinks that his/her materialprosperity is not subject to the law of anicca  (flux) despite the $16 trillion national debt (exceeding the country’s GDP of $15.1 trillion) while the  nation’s unemployment rate hovers around 8.3 percent.  

The 120-member NAM represents about 55 percent of the world population. Yet the mass media presume that the hoi polloi won’t give a hoot on what NAM does, particularly because its current head is the pariah president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  The U.S. government and the First Amendment-backed private mass media, amply aided by the nation’s chauvinistic educational system, have “brainwashed” the public to think of Iran as an integral constituent of the periphery of evil called the developing world,

By Yankee Doodle I mean the typical American patriot and political dandy who brags about “American exceptionalism” in our “land of opportunity.” The Doodle can be a Republican or a Democrat. However, my hunch is they belong mainly to whatpolitical analysts call the right of center. The center is the midway point in the continuum between the two extremes of socialism (yin) and capitalism (yang), the two nebulous politico-economic systems that no country has ever adopted in their pure theoretical form.

The exponents of laissez-faire capitalism who support individual rights and reject any form of collectivism or statism (like the tea party libertarians) belong to this group. They believe in matsya nyaya (the law of the fish). They are advocates of the status quo and they want to maintain American dominance of the world economic and financial structure.   

The 2012 GOP platform reveals the right-of-center strategy that will determine the direction of the country’s foreign policy: the invocation of Americanexceptionalism, a concept which implies that all other nations are inferior to America. Therefore, America must not relax its military strength, unequivocal support for Israel, leadership in the Asian-Pacific Community, leadership in international organizations, role in protecting human rights, efforts to promote a free marketplace of ideas, and so on.

It is this notion of exceptionalism that irks the NAM. Rajapakse expressed hisdisenchantment with American exceptionalism when he addressed the Tehran Summit last month:

“If we are to avoid a calamity, we must develop a new model of development, appropriate to the needs of our people”¦. Sri Lanka’s economy has grown at over 8 percent per annum while bringing inflation, unemployment and poverty levels down drastically. We have also ensured that the fruits of economic development are equitably distributed and reach the most vulnerable sectors of society”¦.

Unfortunately, developing countries still continue to get policy prescriptions from these very countries where economies and financial markets have been mismanaged. It is of the greatest importance to ensure that the proposed solutions do not imposeunjustifiable burdens on developing nations.”

It appears to me that the Republican right-wing politicians are using the concept of American exceptionalism as a domestic ruse to win the 2012 election. NAM countries no longer believe in the hegemony of the United States. And the American mass media are hiding this bad news from the Yankee Doodles.  

 (Gunaratne is a professor emeritus attached to MSUM. He is the author of an autobiographic trilogy. The first titled Village Life in the Forties: Memories of a Lankan Expatriate was released by iUniverse Inc. in August. The second titled From Village Boy toGlobal Citizen (Vol. 1): The Journey of a Journalist will be released this month by Xlibris Inc., which will also release the second volume of the same book subtitled The Travels of a Journalist later in the year.)

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