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Dallying with the Dalai Lama

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Robin Lustig | 11:15 UK time, Thursday, 18 October 2007

I had to smile when I read the New York Times editorial this morning on the honouring of the Dalai Lama in Washington. Here, it said, was a leader who has demonstrated a lifelong dedication to nonviolence and tolerance. Perhaps, suggested the Times wickedly, that dedication might rub off on some of the people he met during his stay in Washington. Might the White House perhaps ponder on one of his best-known maxims: “Through violence, you may solve one problem, but you sow the seeds for another.”

But the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal, the US’s highest civilian honour, to the 72-year-old spiritual leader of the Tibetans, was rather more than an opportunity for President Bush’s critics to have another go at him. It was also an opportunity for Beijing, yet again, to fulminate against a Buddhist monk who has almost single-handedly appeared to keep alive the flame of Tibetan nationalism.

Yet there’s a bit of a paradox here. Behind the scenes, the Chinese leadership has been putting out feelers to the Dalai Lama and his fellow “splittists” for years … so why shouldn’t Washington honour him? Or is Beijing right to see this as a not-too-subtle attempt by the US to put pressure on China and bolster the Tibetan leader’s negotiating hand?

I talked about all this to the Tibetan affairs scholar Robert Barnett of Columbia University last night. If you missed it, you can hear it here.


  1. At 02:26 PM on 18 Oct 2007, Mark wrote:

    I had to smile when I read Robin Lustig's piece this morning on the White House honoring the Dalai Lama. Perhaps suggested Lustig wickedly Washington might insanely forget the realities of power in this world and surrender to megalomaniacal messianic political, economic, and religious tyrannies through pacifism. Not la snowball's chance in hell, the US was born fighting and defeating just such a tyranny, the tyrant King of England George III and will never forget it. It's culture and history is built on fighting and winning wars of all kinds, economic, cultural, and yes military, that's what we have think tanks for. The Dalai Lama is alive today because the US government and likeminded people around the world use force to protect him from being captured by the Chinese government after which his fate would be to disappear forever into one of their Gulags. Might Lustig ponder one of America's best known maxims, "nothing succeeds like success" and nobody has been more successful than the US? Through violence you may solve one problems and sow the seeds of another? Yes, the violent defeat of Hitler and the Nazis and the violent defeat of the USSR empire of evil has sown the seeds of ungrateful Europe rebuilt with careful American nurturing but now under a delusion it did it all by itself. The solution to that has been transferring all competitive manufacturing jobs to China and India where human life is worthless and where restriction on pollution and GHG emissions are non existent and creating the WTO where Europe must accept the products of slave labor at fire sale prices it can’t possibly compete with even in its domestic markets or erect trade barriers which will preclude most of its own export trade to the outside world completely. Europe's pontificating from its artificially propped up soapbox built by the US in the aftermath of WWII is at an end now that it is no longer needed and its underpinnings have been removed. France's strikes today are a prime example. Was the honoring of the Dalai Lama by the White House a slap in China's face? You bet it was, just one of many more to come as the US reminds China whose money built it as a modern nation and who in large measure owns it. In its policies towards the US it’s making the mistake of biting the hand which feeds it.

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