Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Don't Forget Darfur, Tibet or Burma This Summer, Don't Forget Men & Women of US Military Either; Reflections On Speaker Pelosi's Visit to Dharmsala

Photo: CBS News

Do Not Forget Darfur, Tibet or Burma This Summer, Do Not Forget the Men & Women of the US Military Either; Reflections On Speaker Pelosi's Visit to Dharmsala

By Richard Power

Speaker Pelosi’s recent visit to Dharmsala to express support for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people was an important moment. It was more than just geopolitical theatre, it was more than just a symbolic gesture.

Both of these leaders have been second-guessed a lot: Pelosi, since taking the gavel in January 2007, both for her declaration that impeachment was “off the table” and for not cutting off funding for the foolish military adventure in Iraq; the Dalai Lama, in recent years, both for how he has led the Tibetan government in exile and for his approach to dealing with Beijing and Beltwayistan.

I disagree with both of them on numerous decisions. But I do not second-guess them on any of it.

This is a bad time in the world.

(Look at the weird and destructive turn the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has taken. Instead of a tremendous competition between two worthy survivors debating the great issues of our time, we are being subjected to a blood-match fought over innuendoes, distortions, distractions and irrelevancies.)

It is a very dangerous period. It could well be that the end of the current regime in Beltwayistan is its worst moment.

There are no good choices. It is difficult to see very far ahead.

There is very little margin for error.

If history shows Pelosi and the Dalai Lama to have erred in their respective trials, and if it is honest (a big if), history will also show them to have erred on the side of caution. Whether that caution was indeed the better part of valor remains to be determined.

One can only imagine the threats and ultimatums that both have been confronted with behind closed doors; one can only imagine the potential chains of consequences that they have both run through their minds in the solitude of the night.

If, at the end of this struggle, Tibet is allowed to heal itself, and restore its culture, in some form of autonomy if not outright independence; then those who second-guess the Dalai Lama now may have cause to regret their arrogance.

If, in 2008, a Democratic who is truly opposed to the neo-con wet dream is sworn in as President of the USA (a much bigger if than it should be), and that President -- working with an emboldened Congress -- takes a new course both with regard to Iraq and Iran, thereby thwarting a wider regional war in the Middle East; then those who vilify the Speaker now may come to regret their heated rhetoric.

It is not easy to lead from conscience. It is much easier to lead from greed or anger.

But if you lead from conscience, there is a chance it will turn out right in the end; if you lead from greed or anger, it will almost always turn out wrong in the end.

Meanwhile, we must do what we can to articulate the truth and all the ways it must be served.

Do not forget the men and women of the US military. Do not be deceived. They deserve so much better from their civilian leaders. They are being held hostage. Blood and oil have turned the desert sand into a quagmire.

Do not forget the women and children of Darfur. The great nations are allowing a genocide to take place there.

Do not forget the monks of Burma and Tibet. They sing of the Buddha’s great compassion as they march, and their marching is the Buddha’s great compassion itself.

Here are three important items, one each on Tibet, Darfur and Iraq:

A group of prominent Chinese intellectuals has circulated a petition urging the government to stop what it has called a “one-sided” propaganda campaign and initiate direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama.
The petition, which was signed by more than two dozen writers, journalists and scholars contains 12 recommendations which, taken together, represent a sharp break from the Chinese government’s response to the wave of demonstration that have swept Tibetan areas of the country in recent days.
They come, moreover, at a time when the government is working hard to convey a sense of strong international support for putting down what is being depicted here as a civil disturbance by lawless people being instigated by the Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who Beijing denounces as a secessionist, or “splittist.”
New York Times, 3/23/08

In preparing to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, China has engaged in a massive campaign to dissemble its role in the Darfur genocide in western Sudan, now entering its sixth year ...
Why does China airbrush away Darfur's genocidal realities? Why has Beijing been Khartoum's largest weapons supplier over the past decade? Why has China repeatedly wielded a veto threat at the UN Security Council as the world body vainly struggles to bring pressure to bear on Khartoum? The answer lies in China's thirst for Sudanese crude oil. ...
Confident that China will block punitive actions, Khartoum recently resumed savage civilian clearances in West Darfur ... If China is to be a legitimate host of the 2008 Olympics, the preeminent event in international sports, it cannot be complicit in the ultimate international crime - genocide. The world community must respond more forcefully to this intolerable contradiction.
Eric Reeves, Boston Globe, 3-22-08

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a tragedy - for Iraq, for the US, for the UN, for truth and human dignity. I can only see one gain: the end of Saddam Hussein, a murderous tyrant. Had the war not finished him he would, in all likelihood, have become another Gadafy or Castro; an oppressor of his own people but no longer a threat to the world. Iraq was on its knees after a decade of sanctions.
The elimination of weapons of mass destruction was the declared main aim of the war. It is improbable that the governments of the alliance could have sold the war to their parliaments on any other grounds. ... They could not succeed in eliminating WMDs because they did not exist. Nor could they succeed in the declared aim to eliminate al-Qaida operators, because they were not in Iraq. They came later, attracted by the occupants. ... Increased safety for Israel might have been an undeclared US aim. If so, it is hard to see that anything was gained by a war which has strengthened Iran. ...
Hans Blix, Guardian, 3-20-08

I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.

Click here to sign the TURN OFF/TUNE IN Pledge.

For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

Here are other sites of importance:

Dream for Darfur

Enough: The Project to End Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Genocide Intervention Network

Divest for Darfur.

Save Darfur!

For a directory of Words of Power Human Rights Updates, click here.

Tibet-Related Posts

How About Making Hypocrisy An Olympic Competition?

Human Rights Update: H.H. Dalai Lama to the World -- "Please investigate ... cultural genocide is taking place"

Human Rights Update: H.H. Dalai Lama to the Chinese -- "address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people"

Global Press Freedom Update: China Tightens Screws on Press in Preparation for 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing; Take A Look At Your Future

Words of Power #29: The Dalai Lama and The Blade Runner, Spiritual Challenges of the 21st Century Security Crisis, Part III

GS(3) Thunderbolt: Statement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Forty-Eighth Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day

Words of Power #20: Cusco, Kyoto and The Yellow Sand Storm

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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