The relevance of Donald Trump’s patriotism to Sri Lanka
A small book of about 150 pages containing complimentary comments by others about Presidential hopeful Donald Trump and quotable quotes from Trump’s own speeches, ambiguously titled TRUMPED (New Holland Publishers Pty Ltd, London, 2016) has this mocking Trump quote in small letters at the top of the cover page just above the capitalized title:
“Sorry losers, but my IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.”
The subtitle of this pro-Trump propaganda publication is:
The wonderful world and wisdom of Donald Trump.
Making the country great again slogan is not entirely without relevance when it is applied to post-2014 Sri Lanka
Mind you, this was pre-election time. Most people, especially the media, expected him ‘to be trumped’ at the Presidential Election, hence the title that would fit whatever outcome he’d get. The short description on the title page says that he is ‘A self-made billionaire, reality TV star, GOP candidate and 2016 Presidential hopeful’. These claims are true. However, not all quotes given in this article are from this book.
Trump (b.1946) was sworn in as the 45th President of the US on January 20, 2017. By now, he seems to have trumped (done better than) his predecessor Obama in both the domestic and foreign affairs departments. In ‘The Art of the Deal’ (1987) that he co-authored with Tony Schwartz, he says:
“You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.”As a successful businessman turned politician, he knows how to achieve success in whatever he does.
That demands vision, intelligence, creativity, and in a politician in power, a sensitive heart that responds to the needs of his people.
When a president ‘delivers the goods’ by meeting these needs without compromising the broader national interest of the country, we can call such a President a Patriot or a nationalist, not a populist.
Trump once said: “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice”.
Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighbourhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves
A minority of Sri Lankans seem to equate nationalism with what they wrongly call populism to condemn both.To them, Trump is a populist. The following Trump quote mentions some of the ‘populist’ demands he focuses on as president:
“Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighbourhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.”This is what the unashamedly ‘populist’ Trump thinks about taxing people:“If you reduce tax rates and allow people to spend or save more of what they earn, they’ll be more industrious; they’ll have more incentive to work hard, and money they earn will add fuel to the great economic machine that energizes our national progress. The result ….. more prosperity for all…. And more revenue for Government”.
What’s the relevance of Donald Trump’s patriotism/nationalism to Sri Lanka?
The USA, which tabled Resolution 30/1 against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in October 2015, has by now left that body in disgust.Sri Lanka co-sponsored this resolution against itself to its eternal shame. President Donald Trump, addressing the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York in an upbeat hour-long speech charged that the UNHRC had become “A massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations…”.
He described it as “a cesspool of political bias”. Probably, Sri Lanka has more reasons to make that criticism of the UN human rights body.
Of course, Trump was not indulging in self-blame. He was pointing accusing fingers at others, such as Cuba and China.
He expressed some smug self-satisfaction about the American economy booming under his stewardship. He vowed that the US would not return to the UNHRC unless it was reformed and that they would provide “neither support nor recognition” to the International Criminal Court on similar grounds.
He further said,“We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy.” Sri Lanka did just that by unnecessarily succumbing to pressure exerted by vested interests inimical to the country.
During the last Presidential Election which he won, his campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again”.
Making an unmistakable allusion to that evocative phrase, Trump, a patriotic politician who puts the US national interest at the top of his priorities, as shown above, observed that the global migration crisis (Which negatively affects his country) can be resolved by encouraging every country to be “great again”.
(Never mind that hardly any country in the world including ours exploited by Western Imperialism was ever so “great” in the last half a millennium as to be talking about becoming “great again” without an acute sense of embarrassment!).
However, ‘making the country great again’ slogan is not entirely without relevance when it is applied to post-2014 Sri Lanka, considering the relative ‘greatness’ it steadily achieved in terms, for example, of a high growth rate, restored national security, near-complete elimination of the underworld, etc in the five years since the defeat of separatist terrorism in 2009.America was not going to sign onto a global migration pact. His stand was that individual nations should set their own policies to achieve this status. He declared: “Only by upholding national borders, destroying criminal gangs, can we break this cycle”. Trump said that the US would “recognize (the) right of every nation in this room to set own policy.”The only way to stop people from leaving their countries in search of greener pastures elsewhere was to “make their countries great again”.How can we be “great again” by doing the exact opposite of what Donald Trump is advocating here?
His Sri Lankan counterpart quite justifiably urged an end to external interference in our domestic affairs at the UN General Assembly, but his swinish foreign affairs panjandrums were content to wallow in the UNHRC cesspool in Geneva.
While the UN General Assembly was meeting in New York, the delegates of the non-governmental organization known as the World Patriotic Lankan Forum (WPLF) was attending parallel events at the Geneva UNHRC Sessions in a heroic attempt to defend the country unofficially as best they could in the absence of anyone from the Sri Lankan Government to do so.
Professor Channa Jayasumana, who played a leading role in this endeavour is currently in the news after having made a startling revelation that might someday lead to a reversal of the world body’s policy regarding false war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka.
The delegates of the WPLF claimed that the Sri Lankan embassy entertained some leading pro-separatist Tamils, who were protesting against Sri Lanka that very day in thousands, to dinner, whereas those patriots themselves were not given even a cup of tea as a sign of welcome at least.
The embassy officials had told the WPLF delegates that they were following instructions from Colombo. (The hosting to dinner of leading anti-Sri Lanka demonstrators from the so-called Tamil Diaspora was denied by the ambassador later.)
A Tamil woman, who had gone there to help urge war crimes allegations against the Sri Lankan Army, charged that just ten days previously some Sri Lankan Soldiers had raped eleven young Tamil women in the north!
You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do a wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press
This was a monstrous lie. Though she was making this false allegation in the presence of a female officer from the Sri Lankan embassy in Geneva, that woman didn’t lift a finger in defence of the country.She kept silent. The WPLF member, a lady, was almost in tears when she revealed this and made an emotional appeal to the Sri Lankan President, Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to look into this treacherous conduct of the embassy staff in Geneva.
She also referred to the Tamil racists’ attempt to introduce a false history in order to justify their separatist claims and urged Sri Lankan parents and educational authorities to resuscitate the teaching of history in our schools as in the past.In this context, the unwavering nationalism of American leaders-that is currently exemplified in Donald Trump-shows the people of Sri Lanka the way out of the present crisis. (The foregoing part of this article was written a couple of weeks ago.)
At the time the WPLF activist made her cogent appeal, it fell mostly on deaf ears. But with the unexpected change of Government on October 26, 2018, a conducive environment has begun emerging for such calls for the implementation of nation-centred policies to be actively heeded.
The architect of the post-2009 greatness, which was conspiratorially scuttled in 2015, is back in the saddle and is sure to be overwhelmingly confirmed in his position at future Parliamentary Elections.