Posts Tagged ‘Tibet’

A Tale of Two Occupations

December 14, 2014

In June of 1967 the government of Israel had good reason to believe a war with its neighbors was imminent. Egypt’s leader Gamel Abdel Nasser had been making increasingly belligerent public statements calling for the destruction of Israel. Jordan and Israel had already clashed the previous year and tensions with Syria were increasing. In May of 1967 Nasser expelled the UN peacekeeping force from the Sinai Peninsula and began massing troops. On June 5, the Israelis made the somewhat controversial decision to launch a preëmptive strike against the Egyptian air force. This might seem to be an act of aggression, but Israel is a small country and cannot afford to lose much territory in the course of a war. In any event, the Egyptian air force was decimated and fighting broke out between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, with much of the Arab world supporting the war against Israel.

The war only lasted six days. By June 11 the Israelis had easily defeated the coalition against them and had occupied enemy territory, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. Since that time, Israel has annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 for strategic reasons, but has been willing to negotiate the status of the other occupied territories. Israel has returned the Sinai peninsula to Egypt following the Camp David Peace accords, even clearing out the Jewish settlers. The Israelis ended the military occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005, again removing the Jewish settlers, only to have Hamas take over and use the Gaza Strip as a base for war against Israeli civilians. Israel has been obliged to blockade the Gaza Strip, limiting the supply of goods into the region in order to protect the Israeli targets of Hamas’s rocket attacks. Israel continues to occupy the West Bank and has tried to negotiate some sort of settlement with the Palestinians. I think that the great majority of the people of Israel would prefer that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank end and that Israel have a peaceful, prosperous Palestine as a neighbor. The Palestinians have shown that they are not interested in anything but the destruction of the Zionist Entity, so Israel remains a state under siege.

After the fall of the Qing Dynasty in China in 1912, Tibet regained its independence, lost when the Chinese Empire invaded and conquered the country in the eighteenth century. This independence was short lived as the Communist government annexed Tibet in 1950, granting the country autonomous status and permitting the Dalai Lama to remain as the ruler. During the 1950’s Mao’s government began to export his Communist ideology to Tibet and the Tibetans rebelled in 1959. The People’s Liberation Army invaded and ruthlessly crushed the rebellion, driving the Dalai Lama into exile. During the Cultural Revolution,the Chinese government led by the fanatic Red Guards tried to destroy Tibet’s cultural heritage, vandalizing and destroying many monasteries. While conditions have improved in Tibet since China has begun to open up and embrace free markets, Chinese rule in Tibet has continued to be oppressive with the Tibetan language and culture marginalized. Ethnic Han Chinese are encouraged to emigrate to Tibet with the idea of making the native Tibetans a minority in their own country.

Tibet is a sparsely inhabited country with few natural resources and a harsh climate. It poses no conceivable threat to China’s security. The Chinese invasion of 1950 was entirely unprovoked and justified only by the notion that any territory in Asia that was ever part of any previous Chinese dynasty’s inheritance must be under the control of the People’s Republic of China, even if the people of that territory have a culture and nationality of their own.

Now, of these two occupations, which is routinely condemned by the United Nations and by the world’s media as well as Leftist groups everywhere, and which is largely ignored? Why is there no BDS movement against the Chinese government for its atrocious treatment against Tibet, and for that matter against its own people, for despite some reforms China remains a totalitarian dictatorship? Why is democratic Israel attacked for trying to keep its people safe while the aggression and oppression of Communist China is ignored? For that matter, why are the territories occupied by Israel of so much concern to the whole world while Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus, the Western Sahara by Morocco, South Ossetia and Transnistria by Russia, and many others are ignored? What is it about Israel that makes its actions somehow uniquely obnoxious?

I could be wrong, but I get the impression that the critics of Israel may be motivated by something other than a desire for peace and justice in the Middle East, or why do they criticize the only democratic country in the region while ignoring the evils of the tyrants and terrorists who rule everywhere else, not to mention the worse human rights abuses in so many countries around the world.

 

 

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The Dalai Lama

June 19, 2011

I’ve never been much of an admirer of the Dalai Lama. This is not because he is the leader of a major sect of Tibetan Buddhism, but because I have always wondered what kind of ruler of Tibet he would have been if he were not in exile. Although I cannot condone the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet, I don’t imagine that the theocracy of the Dalai Lamas was exactly a paradise either. Tibet was a backward,  feudal country. I doubt very much of the Dalai Lama would have been a force for democracy or reform.

It would seem that his holiness is an admirer of Marxism. It might seem strange that he would have anything good to say about the ideology of the country that drove him into exile but he seems to feel that Marxism has moral ethics while capitalism is only about profits.

I will quote some of the comments of Mark Stuertz from whom I got this story.

So how can the Dalai Lama possibly square his pleas for nonviolence toward “all sentient beings” with Marxism? His answer: Marxism has moral ethics, as opposed to capitalism, which is all about profits.

Let’s chew on that for a moment. Virtually every socio-political movement has some noble ambition — some set of ethics — that can be teased from its viscera. The Nazi Party platform, for example, contains calls for equal rights, profit-sharing, national health care, pensions, education access, employment opportunities, and the rights of citizens to select political leaders and make laws.

By implication, isn’t the Dalai Lama saying these are sufficient grounds to legitimize, exonerate — even embrace — Nazism? And if not, why not?

It’s one thing to promote cooperation and egalitarianism. It’s quite another to publicly endorse a specific ideology that espouses such goals but consistently delivers a dramatically different outcome. According to The Black Book of Communism, Marxist regimes over the 20th century systematically slaughtered between 85 and 100 million people. Millions more were terrorized, tortured, and enslaved. And these atrocities were not breaches of practical Marxist orthodoxy — they were critical elements of Marxist statecraft. Terror tactics and atrocities, The Black Book’s authors point out, are found in every regime claiming to be Marxist in origin.

The Marxist-Communist record is “the most colossal case of political carnage in history.” It represents the triumph of inhumanity over compassion on an unprecedented scale. How can this Nobel Peace Prize winner embrace a political ideology in theory without any consideration of its effects in practice? Is this mindful?

Buddhism, perhaps more than any of the other major religions, places special emphasis on compassion. It is incumbent upon the Buddhist to strive for mindfulness and compassion in all circumstances. Essential to this striving is the cultivation of an awareness of how ego aggressively disrupts mindfulness and compassion while denying the impermanence of existence. These aggressive disruptions cause suffering.

There is perhaps no other realm that engorges, fattens, and unleashes the aggressiveness of ego and its handmaiden, suffering, quite like the political realm. Yet the Dalai Lama doesn’t seem to consider this. He makes no mention of Marxism’s glaring internal contradictions. He glosses over how it fails to consider humanity as it is: beset with the confusion and ignorance of ego. He disregards the critical component Marxism requires to function successfully: a mythical human, one free of self-interest.

That’s why, for all of its seductive allure — its appeal to ego — Marxism has proved impossible to peacefully implement.

He has more to say and his article is worth reading. I will just add that it is the big ideas, Marxism, socialism, Fascism, etc that have caused so much suffering in the world. That is, the idea that all of society must conform to an ideology that will, of course, make everything perfect for everyone, if only everyone does as they are told. Capitalism may indeed be all about profits, and greed, and so on, but it is also about leaving people alone to make their own lives as they see fit. What people like the Dalai Lama will never see is that that is the morally superior system.


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