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Why Should Obama Meet With the Dalai Lama?; or, Free Tibet (With the Purchase of any Tibet of Equal or Lesser Value)

February 2, 2010

President Obama may have plans to meet with the Dalai Lama later this month. This has China’s panties in a bunch.

“If the US leader chooses to meet with the Dalai Lama at this time, it will certainly threaten trust and co-operation between China and the United States,” said Mr Zhu, executive deputy minister of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department.
He said that if a meeting did take place, China would “take corresponding action to make relevant countries see their mistakes”.
“We oppose any attempt by foreign forces to interfere in China’s internal affairs using the Dalai Lama as an excuse,” he said.
“If they [the US] don’t recognise that Tibet is part of China, it will seriously undermine the political foundation of Sino-US relations.”

I know jack shit about diplomatic protocol, but my suspicion is that if an insurrection began on an Indian reservation, our government would not look favorably upon any nations that sat down with the tribal leadership. I also know jack shit about the history of Tibetan autonomy, except that the exile government presided over by Tenzin Gyatso demands some degree of autonomy that surpasses what the People’s Republic of China will allow. Back to the jack shit I know about diplomacy: no nation recognizes the Tibetan exile leadership as a government.

Here’s something I do know a little more about: the Dalai Lama is believed to be the earthly manifestation of Chenrezig, a bodhisattva or enlightened being. When a Dalai Lama dies, the search for his successor takes several years. The criteria for the identification of the reincarnated fella include dreams and visions. Another form of persuasive evidence is the direction the smoke from the dead Lama’s cremation is blown. Funny that since the first Dalai Lama’s death in the 14th century, the reincarnation has never appeared in Ottawa, Canberra, Ouagadougou, Lisbon, Athens, or Jerusalem.  Maybe the enlightened being doesn’t have a passport.

I am not saying that China is right.  My initial reaction was to bristle at them telling the US what to do.  But they certainly have a side of the story, and perhaps its worth hearing.  I am saying that an old man’s dreams about a young boy are a pretty shabby basis for the selection of a future world leader.  I am also saying that the Dalai Lama is not a world leader as such.  I don’t know whether President Obama should meet with him, but I am also not sure how to decide.  These are just musings, and I certainly don’t lean strongly in one direction or the other.

Any thoughts?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Aaron permalink
    February 2, 2010 11:33 am

    I hear the Dalai Lama is a pretty nice guy.

    • Barry permalink*
      February 2, 2010 11:41 am

      That’s cool. Nice guys are cool.

  2. JoJo permalink
    February 2, 2010 11:50 am

    i liked the king of the hill episode where bobby passes the are-you-a-lama? test instead of chane wassanasong, who was hoping to impress connie. no such luck, chane.

    i hope that helps.

  3. David permalink
    February 2, 2010 12:36 pm

    Big hitter, the Lama.

  4. February 2, 2010 2:39 pm

    i also don’t know a whole lot about the dalai lama, tibet, the struggle for autonomy, or china’s side of the story, but i have the unmistakeable impressoion that the western “free tibet” movement knows even less. they are literally a bunch of stupid hippies.

  5. Aaron permalink
    February 2, 2010 6:00 pm

    I’d bet Alek is right about a lot of the folks in the free tibet movement being uninformed. I’d also bet that they’re in the right and China is wrong. Doubting everything isn’t any more thoughtful than accepting everything… the French chaos theory guy (how’s that for being informed!) said it better.

    Also, am I to read your doubt as Tibet’s political validity as a commentary on religion in politics?

    • Barry permalink*
      February 2, 2010 6:07 pm

      I understand that religion and politics are inextricable from one another in a lot of ways. I don’t like it, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

      However, the idea that the head of state is selected as a child based upon the whims of some elders is an affront to democratic values and an assault on reason.

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