Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Save Tibet


Save Tibet. Save Tibet. Save Tibet.

Save Tibet from China.

Saving Tibet from China makes a lot more moral, ethical, economic, political, practical, humanitarian, social, religious, ideological and common sense than saving Iraq from Iraq, Afghanistan from Afghanistan and Pakistan from Pakistan.

But I repeat myself.

I wrote in this space seven years ago (slightly edited for timeliness):

"There is no coherent or consistent rationale behind the choice of countries selected to be made safe for democracy by invasion and war. The criteria seem to be that the invaded country is ruled by a few powerful people for the benefit of a the minority at the expense of the majority; civil and human rights are not paramount; terrorism against enemies and critics, including its own citizens, is practiced; weapons of mass destruction are suspected or known to be possessed by those few countries; the citizenry lives in fear; the country is a potential or at least perceived threat to other nations; there is wealth to be plundered.

"While lock-step, my-country-right-or-wrong, flag-waving patriotism is undemocratic, really unintelligent and far more dangerous to the homeland than heartfelt opposition to madmen at the helm, in the spirit of America's current crusade, I'd like to step into the current patriotic atmosphere and propose Tibet as the next country that needs to be made safe for democracy. After all, what has happened in Tibet at the hands of China makes the unholy deeds of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden seem, in comparison, like the handiwork of a couple of brutal neighborhood street punks.

"China invaded its peaceful and essentially unarmed neighbor Tibet in 1949. By 1959, the oppression of the Tibetan people was so severe that there was a popular uprising against the Chinese. Tibet's spiritual and political leader, the Dalai Lama, fled to India. The Chinese killed approximately 1.2 million Tibetans, a fifth of the nation's population, in order to keep control. Many more Tibetans were put into prison and forced labor camps. Many went into permanent exile. More than 6,000 Buddhist monasteries and temples and other cultural and historical buildings were destroyed and their contents pillaged.

"The Chinese destruction of the Tibetan people and their culture is a process that continues to this day. Despite China's brutality toward them, the Tibetan people's determination to preserve their culture and beliefs and to regain their freedom remains strong. They have asked the international community, including the United States, for help for 50 years. Now that the United States is actively pursing a policy of preemptive strikes to make the world safe for democracy, rescuing Tibet from its oppressors is an obvious and natural choice.

"Tibet doesn't have huge oil fields or other known natural sources of enormous material wealth worth plundering, but it certainly meets all the other criterion of our nation's choice of which countries will be made safe for democracy."

Yes, I repeat myself. But there is nothing wrong with repeating oneself when the words are true and in the service of freedom, justice, human rights, due process, trial by jury, freedom from quartering of troops and search and seizure, public trial by an impartial jury, freedom of speech and the press—you know, democracy.

Democracy in any meaningful sense does not exist in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan, despite the billions of American tax dollars and thousands of American lives that have vanished and continue to disappear into the bottomless, cynical corruption of those governments. Then there's the closer-to-home, equally cynical corruption of what is known as the American "military-industrial complex," which appears to be the principal beneficiary of America's current wars to make the world safe for democracy.

Just this morning during a conversation about very different matters, a conservative friend observed in praise of China that "China is the next America" because China is taking advantage of business opportunities while America is becoming "anti-business." In my view, she is confusing the values of business with the values of democracy, but she is not alone in this confusion, which was perhaps best summarized by President Cal Coolidge, who said, "The business of America is business and the chief ideal of the American people is idealism." While Glenn Beck says that old Cal "might be my favorite president," I would argue that the chief ideal of the American people is democracy.

Earlier this month, the Tibetan government in exile celebrated 50 years of declared democracy under the spiritual leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has consistently advocated non-violent resistance to China's illegal occupation. Addressing the gathering, Tibetan Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche said, "Democracy will remain incomplete until the entire Tibetan people of Tibet get a genuine autonomy with freedom of conscience, speech [and] human dignity and where human rights are duly respected." He promoted "genuine democracy as the best remedy to all human problems of today."

War does not make the world safe for democracy. China is not the new America.

Save Tibet.

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