Beware of Fantasy

by Charley Reese

Coffee sippers who think it might be a good idea to free Tibet from China are about 58 years too late. China is not going to free Tibet, and Western encouragement of Tibetan resistance will only get people killed needlessly.

Tibet was part of China for centuries. In 1913, when China seemed to be falling apart, the British Empire encouraged Tibet to declare its independence. It did, and that lasted until 1950, when, at the end of the Chinese civil war, China invaded and reclaimed the area. By then, the impotent British Empire was in no position to help anyone even if it had been so inclined. America chose to do nothing.

If you are not willing to make your way to the Tibetan plateau and face Chinese guns and prisons, then you certainly should not sit around some coffee shop and urge Tibetans to do so. Tibet is a strategic area of China, and the Chinese government is not going to give it up or grant it independence or even autonomy. To paraphrase a famous outlaw, it is enough that we know that China will do what it has to do.

As for us, we should do nothing. Tibet is part of China, and what happens there is an internal affair of China. The rest of the world has no right to interfere, and other than bloviating for a while, I seriously doubt that it will. Unfortunately, in this age of global communications even bloviating can cause bad things to happen to people.

Boycotting the Olympics is a foolish idea by a tiny minority of fanatics. The Olympics have nothing to do with Tibet, just as they had nothing to do with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Boycotting the games would be a cruel blow to athletes who have been sweating and training for four years. It would accomplish nothing. It would further politicize the games, which should be encouraged to return to their amateur status.

China was awarded the Summer Games in a fair international competition and has spent a lot of money getting ready for them. Any attempt to spoil the games will do a great disservice to the athletes, the Chinese government and the Chinese people. It will do nothing positive and will only harden attitudes and end up making the world even more dangerous than it already is.

Americans in particular should keep in mind that we are currently engaged in mismanaging two occupations of two countries that we illegally invaded. Neither enterprise is going well. Neither is our economy. In short, we have enough on our own plate without trying to steal a bite off of China’s plate. We should make sure that Afghanistan and Iran are the last wheezes of the sick American Empire and shut it down and return to our republic.

I don’t know why some Americans seem to have trouble realizing that the days of the European empires are over. Part of the problem is that we have way too many vocational intellectuals and way too few real intellects. A vocational intellectual is someone who makes a living writing or talking. Such people tend to live inside their heads. Delusions of grandeur and fantasies about the real world are constant occupational hazards for such people.

No country in the world has to do what we tell it to do. Certainly that’s the case with the big powers like China, Russia, Japan and India. As you can see every day in your morning paper, even a little country like Iraq can cause us more trouble than it’s worth. It’s a crime against humanity that our sons and daughters are dying in the desert dust while fat politicians cavort about in Washington. Don’t encourage Tibetans to die in some futile fantasy about independence. They are not independent. They are part of China, and part of China they will stay.

March 29, 2008

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.

© 2008 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


One thought on “Beware of Fantasy

  1. While I certainly respect Mr. Reese’s vast experience as a journalist, I disagree with his current assessment of the Tibetan situation. While he speaks of Tibet’s bid for independence, the Dalai Lama, for the last 30 years, has called for autonomy, not independence. Of course, many Tibetans do not agree with His Holiness, but Samdhong Rinpoche does, and so too does the unified voice of the Kashag. It is a dangerous business to confuse these two radically different concepts. I agree with Mr. Reese that independence will not happen for the Tibetans, but I believe that autonomy is another matter entirely.

    Mr. Reese argues that if you’re not willing to “make your way to the Tibetan plateau and face Chinese guns then you certainly should not sit around some coffee shop and urge Tibetans to do so.” I am personally unaware of any Westerner, in a coffe shop or elsewhere, who has publicly called for Tibetans to face Chinese guns, nor am I convinced that the only reason Tibetans are currently dying is because Westerners have urged them to do so. I guess it’s difficult for some of us to imagine Tibetans as acting independently of Western opinion. But they do, and they should.

    In my opinion, the Tibetans are making these decisions for themselves, determining their own futures, and anyone has the right to support them, or not support them, however they see fit. There are clear human rights violations occurring in Tibet now, and Mr. Reese can call such violations China’s business if he so desires–“what happens there is an internal affair of China,” he states solemnly.

    But it’s a chilling phrase. Thank goodness the United Nations, as of 1948, doesn’t agree with him. We now believe, and have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to articulate this belief, that human atrocities, wherever they occur, cannot be ignored by repeating the Orwellian notion of “internal affairs.”

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