Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Truth Hurts, But It Helps

The United States achieved economic penetration of the Soviet Union, and we turned out their lights. Now, China has achieved economic penetration of the United States, and turned out our president.

Nevertheless, I should probably give him credit for finally laying it on the line. We're in hock to China up to our eyeballs, and Beijing is calling the shots in virtually every sector of the American economy.

Operationally, this is what economic warfare specialists call "penetration."

In the interests of full disclosure, I should probably explain that I sometimes reside in China, and I have longstanding personal interests there that preclude too much misunderstanding of what modern China really means to itself.

With that in mind, let me also explain that the Chinese do not hold the United States in any particular esteem. They are not inclined to be overly sympathetic if we turn out to be too troublesome. They do not understand our rationale. They exploit our weaknesses, but find no need for deeper understanding of our values, tending instead to be dismissive or simplistic.

The way they see it, we want something from them, and had better learn to be civilized in how we go about asking. The way they see it, their internal affairs are their own business, and this whole Tibetan nonsense is wearing their patience thin. The way they see it, they could destabilize South Asia in a heartbeat -- three guesses where Bin Laden gets his dialysis -- so the  dwindling Tibetans in exile should pipe down and count themselves lucky for their fingertip grasp in India -- while it lasts. For some reason, most people fail to understand that as far as China is concerned, the issue of Tibet is over, done with, and utterly trivial. In fact, there is no "issue," only a bunch of pathetic foreigners babbling in support of shifting domestic diplomacy demands.

I hate to say this, but if you are looking at Tiananmen Square as any sort of evidence that the Chinese people wish to emulate our "freedoms," then you are living in a dream world. The average Chinese citizen feels himself ten times more "free" than the average American, and all Tiananmen Square really represents is the last gasp of the last generation of area specialists who really knew how to get it on.

I also hate to say this, but if you think the problems of Buddhists in Tibet come on the table where seventeen trillion dollar deficits are confronted, then you must be simple-minded. The only reason the Nobel-For-Nothing White House gives a nod is because Congress hard-wired some issue longevity.

The only reason that Congress hard-wired issue protection for Tibet is because of you.... because you, as individual citizens, got the issue on the agenda and made it stick. You were only able to do that because we live in a democracy, and because of the tremendous clarity of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who really is the foremost human manifestation of Mercy, and shines into even the darkest of corners. But, you have to ask yourself: how long can these conditions last?

If anybody knows a graceful way out of this mess -- forget graceful -- if anybody knows any way out of this mess -- I would dearly love to hear their suggestions. In the interim, and painful as it may be, we have to face simple facts with simple language.

We're screwed.

I don't think it is necessarily negative to squarely confront unpleasant issues. To the contrary, I think it is useful to begin with a clear appraisal of the cards as they lay. At the very least, this forces a certain creativity to emerge, based on a certain realism.

If this country is going to sell Tibet down the river internationally, then the very least we can do is offer up some constructive domestic alternatives. How about opening the gates for Tibetan immigration? The United States could absorb the entire Tibetan emigre population of India without even trying. How about some major funding for brick and mortar Tibetan Buddhism? How about increased emphasis on manuscript preservation, and major funding for language studies? How about pouring some money into the translators?

"Its not all bad. There'll be more money for Rabbit Opera!"

I also think that China bashing is absolutely counterproductive and really rather silly: like a mouse whistling Dixie, while the cat is ready to pounce. What is happening now isn't China's "fault." It is very clearly our own damn fault. We traded quality for "gimmie right now," and bred the Wal-Mart generation. We stood around congratulating ourselves for short term profits, and kissed the long term baby goodbye. Really, we have nobody but ourselves to blame for the mess we are facing.

I am a little crazy, so I have a crazy dream. It is my crazy dream that this country can eventually absorb Buddhist values to such a degree that we leave jingoistic xenophobia far behind, and turn into a genuinely compassionate nation where the Dharma flourishes.

It is my crazy dream that the door to Shambala isn't hiding under a rock in the Gobi Desert, but is right here, right in front of us.

It is my crazy dream that we can open that door, because I don't think that door is ever locked.

Do you think, in the midst of all this economic madness, we can put down self-interest long enough to  find that door?

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7 reader comments:

Malcolm Smith said...

Tibet is controlled by China for one main reason, and one main reason only -- water. All rivers in Asia come from Tibet, that means the Chinese control all the water in Asia.

Geopolitics in a nutshell.


Hamish said...

As China refuses to take responsibility for its industrial carbon emissions, with the excuse that they make what we want, so we should be the ones taking care of it, I propose a hefty carbon tax on all the dirt cheap underspriced consumer goods flooding the western markets, which would make their goods the same price as environmentally made consumer goods manufactured in the USA. See what they say/do then.

TENPA said...

Malcolm is absolutely correct. If you want an eye-opener, see what is happening to the Mekong. I believe there are Western documentaries about this, but the one to watch is the Chinese "documentary."

Water is absolutely the key to understanding their moves -- and it always has been.

China is set to inaugurate Agricultural Imperialism all over the world, and they will probably move in Southeast Asia first.

Anonymous said...

You said it true and I really respect you for saying it.

TENPA said...

Hamish -- if you hit that link to the Congressional report, you'll find some language about the issue... but no way does it have legs, which is a very great pity. If you have ever visited a Chinese "factory" you will have a whole other appreciation of pollution.

Don said...

We are, all of us, regardless of what religion or belief system we profess, currently living in Shambhala. Multi-dimensional Shambala completely permeates our three-dimensional world. A door, or portal, to Shambhala is simply the means by which we come to this realization. In this sense, we could as easily find a Portal to Shambhala while sitting at our local MacDonalds as under a rock in the Gobi Desert. As a student of Tibet Buddhism, however, you must be aware that there are certain locations in our three-dimensional world, call them Power Places or what you will, where such realizations are more common. All else being equal, we are more likely to come to such a realization in the Gobi Desert than on Times Square. Once you have achieved this realization, however, anywhere you are is Shambhala, even if you are in the USA, even if you are on Times Square.

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote this article is VERY much a Chinese sympathizer and VERY biased. The Chinese can barely afford to feed their own people at this point. Over population will be their acchiles heel in the near future. First, if you don't think the Tibet issue bothers China, you need to have your head examined; China cares VERY much how it looks to the outside world and understands how MUCH it needs the outside world.
China is being slowly converted from the inside out. It may not be tomorrow, but someday elections will be held there en masse and Tibet will have autonomy or at the very least to practice Buddhism as it chooses. And as I have been in China VERY frequently on business the last 35 years or so, I can tell you that while the United States are not the first thing on their minds; my experience is that they are very warm to the freedoms we have here. Make no mistake about it. I liken the underlying feeling there to the same dis-satisfaction that is felt by Iranians under the current regime (I have not been there; I only can go by what I read). I wonder what China the author who wrote this "piece" actually visited.