In the geo-political realities of the 21st century, how do you pick your fights?
History has shown that when you’re up against a population of 1.35 billion living in a land mass that covers 9.6 million sq km, you tread lightly. Remember the Chinese trumpets of World War II?
That’s certainly what Barack Obama did yesterday when he met with the Dalai Lama, the Nobel prize winner and exiled spiritual leader of Tibet.
Obama apparently encouraged the Dalai Lama on his commitment to non-violence and pursuit of the "Middle Way" approach with China, the White House said in a statement. According to the reports from the White House, Obama stressed the U.S. policy that "Tibet is a part of the People's Republic of China and the United States does not support independence for Tibet".
In other words, it’s a done deal and isn’t going to change because the Chinese government is too big, too powerful and too important in the world economy to risk pissing off.
American support of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, has long been a subject of contention in U.S.-China relations. Chinese officials view the religious leader as a separatist. The Nobel Prize laureate denies this, saying he wants a peaceful transition to autonomy for the remote Himalayan region that China has ruled with an iron fist since 1950, when Chinese troops marched in and took over the country – with hardly a peep from the freedom and democracy-loving west. One must be careful what one chooses from the democracy buffet.
Fascinating contrast with Libya.
In Libya - Canadian, American, British & French fighter aircraft have been having target practice trying to kill Muammar al-Gaddafi and doing so without much luck or concern for the legality of the exercise. The French especially, trying to get attention away from the sad state of their economy, have been re-exercising colonial muscles they haven’t used since they were booted out of Algeria. Nothing to get the population whipped up like a little air warfare with highly sophisticated fighter jets shooting rockets from two miles away.
Ever wondered how the Libyan “rebels” were able to get so quickly organized and be on their way to Washington for meetings with U.S. officials and others? Gee, might there be a different geo-political agenda at work here than in Tibet where just as many people have suffered just as grievously at the hands of the contemporary Chinese warlords? Of course, that no longer is important news.
Similarly, as we have watched the complete and utter destruction of the bread basket of Africa – Zimbabwe - the world has stood by and lamented the suffering of the Zimbabwean people but has done nothing about it. The country is reeling from 94% unemployment and people are starving to death but the west does nothing while Robert & Grace Mugabe put billions of dollars into private bank accounts and live a life of unparalleled luxury. We don’t hear of any sort of similar response as to Libya, even though Mugabe and al-Gaddafi are equals on the domestic terror and rule-by-fear scale.
One might almost think that because you’re black and poor or Tibetan and poor, your life is worth less.
One wouldn’t be wrong.