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A Brief Commentary on Tibet

The Westerners who are the Most Vocal About Tibet
Also Appear to be the Most Unforgivably Uninformed
Strong opinions about Tibet are often held in the West, mostly by those who haven't been there and whose knowledge appears gleaned from misguided propaganda in the popular press.

The first adjective that would come to mind about Tibet is 'desolate'. Those who have been in the the far North (beyond the Arctic Circle), or above the tree line in the North American Rocky Mountains or the European Alps, will have some idea of the Tibetan landscape - which is 10,000 feet above the tree line.

There is nothing hospitable about the isolated conditions or climate in Tibet. Surely there are people who can see beauty in even the most desolate surroundings, but these brave detached souls would be most unlikely to choose that location for a summer home and certainly wouldn't live there by choice.
In much of the land, the severe climate means that nothing, or almost nothing, can grow.

Tibet is a high-altitude desert, with little oxygen, almost no rainfall, and harsh temperatures. Only sparse numbers of the hardiest animals can survive there.

No one in Tibet has ever seen a tree or even a bush. They likely have never seen fruit like cherries or peaches and would never have been able to afford them in any case.

The native Tibetans are not dissimilar to the aboriginal natives in North America, though they are for the most part less nomadic and more susceptible to education and societal structure.

The Tibetans have at least built stable communities, buildings, and do engage in commerce.
However, if we consider the white man's (European style) treatment of the North American native Indians and other aboriginals, it is very much to the benefit of Tibetans that they have not been 'saved' or 'freed' by Westerners.

Westerners appear to have a willful blindness about Tibet - The Shangri-La syndrome.

Everyone wants to believe in some mythological, romantic fantasy about Tibet. It doesn't exist and it never did, but the myth seems to grow daily.

The Western media impose on our imagination an image of some fabled theocracy where a reincarnated god rules over a peaceful people spinning prayer wheels. The facts are different.

Mutilation in Old Tibet. A herdsman shows his hands that were broken off at the wrist by the Lama. The Lord Lama took this man's wife, and when he resisted the Lama had the man's hands beaten until they broke off. They did the same to his brother and sister. Both died from the shock.
The region has been under China's governance for many centuries, but was largely self-managed up to the 1950s when Mao went in to clean it up. Before that, Tibet was a slave colony, what the Western press euphemistically refers to as a 'feudal system'. It was no such thing.

Virtually all the population was owned by the Dalai and other lamas and worked their entire lives without pay. The highest monks often owned 35,000 to 40,000 slaves.

The prettiest girls and boys were confiscated to the monasteries for sex. Life was brutal and harsh, corrupt and punctuated by civil wars - the last in 1950. Life expectancy was barely 30.

Education was only for the monks because educated peasants are dangerous and expensive. Industry was forbidden because wealth of the population brought independence from religion.

Torture was rampant. For anyone who cares to look, the internet is full of photos of the torture rooms at the Potala Palace and all the instruments used for gouging eyes and cutting leg tendons. You can easily find it. It's all there. The Dalai Lama was responsible for managing all of this.

In her book, Tibetan Interviews, Anna Louise Strong describes torture implements she saw when visiting Tibet in 1959:

There were handcuffs of many sizes, including small ones for children; there were instruments for cutting off noses and ears, and other instruments for breaking off the hands.

There were instruments for gouging out eyes, including a special stone cap with two holes in it that was pressed down over the head so that the eyes bulged out through the hole, in which position they were gouged out and hot oil poured into the sockets.

A young Tibetan whose eyes were gouged out with stone instruments that were used for this kind of punishment.
The Dalai Lama was responsible for all this. The US pressure to give him a Nobel Peace Prize was an obscenity. It would be have been more appropriate to give such a "Prize" to the American Commander of Abu Graib or Guantanamo Bay.

China has spent countless billions trying to bring Tibet out of the stone age. Education is now almost universal, the $4 billion Qinghai-Tibet railway brings in billions in tourist dollars and finally provides a way to move goods in and out. Tibet’s economic rate of growth and standard of living are higher now than in much of the rest of Western China.

Tibet is not an issue within China, except for the external interference. Since the government built the new railway with the pressurised trains, tourism to Tibet has soared. The Western view of Tibet is probably obscure at best; few have ever had much accurate information on it.

Many news articles make reference to the Dalai Lama as being a spiritual leader, but he was never so much that as the former head of a very repressive government.

Torture Museum in Lhasa: This is a photo of the torture museum in Lhasa. It maintains an exhibit of instruments that were used to punish Tibetans during the Dalai Lamas' rule. At the forefront is an instrument for crushing fingers. Also shown are various whips, and tools for gouging out eyes.
The muslim religion and government were intertwined so as to be inseparable, but really the religion was just a way to control the population - and if that didn't work, there were more forcible ways.

The US and the CIA had been involved in Tibet for many years, financing dissent as they have done in so many other countries.

It was the Lama being on their payroll and the failure of the CIA-financed separatist activities that finally led to his leaving. It's really no different than another country openly fostering the separation of Quebec in Canada. The Canadian government wouldn't be very pleased about that, and the Chinese government isn't overly happy with Stephen Harper and George Bush, Obama and Hillary Clinton giving impetus to Tibet separation.

On YouTube, and possibly in other places, there is an enlightening National Geographic documentary that reveals the "Mutual Understanding" that was established between the Dalai Lama in Tibet and Nazi Germany, during Ernst Shafer's expeditions to Tibet before and during the Second War.
Shafer, an SS Officer, acted as a go-between for the "Eastern and Western Swastikas". With imagery of the medieval conditions, including the fear-mongering monk police, endured by many ordinary Tibetans, this documentary opens a window to the Tibet that the Dalai Lama and his CIA cronies would like to keep hidden from the world.

  • What if China now is our past and future? Tibet: Dream and Reality

  • A book documenting the extensive CIA (and US government) interference in Tibet from the 1950s to 2008, just as was done in Xinjiang in 2009, and in the Tiananmen Square events in 1989.
    This is an extract from a recent article about Tibet that appeared in Le Monde

    Some things disturb our simple “good guys versus bad guys” image (about Tibet).

    Here are some points which anyone passing judgment on recent events in Tibet should bear in mind:

    1. Tibet, an independent country until 1950, was not suddenly occupied by China. The history of its relations with China is long and complex, with China often acting as a protective overlord – the anti-Communist Kuomintang also insisted on Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.

    (The term “Dalai Lama” bears witness to this interaction: it combines the Mongolian dalai – ocean – and the Tibetan bla-ma.)

    2. Before 1950 Tibet was no Shangri-la, but a country of harsh feudalism, poverty (life expectancy was barely 30), corruption and civil wars (the last, between two monastic factions, was in 1948 when the Red Army was already knocking at the door).
    Fearing social unrest and disintegration, the ruling elite prohibited any development of industry, so all metal had to be imported from India.

    This did not prevent the elite from sending their children to British schools in India and transferring financial assets to British banks there.

    3. The Cultural Revolution which ravaged the Tibetan monasteries in the 1960s was not imported by the Chinese. Fewer than a hundred of the Red Guards came to Tibet with the revolution, and the young mobs burning the monasteries were almost exclusively Tibetan.

    4. Since the early 1950s there has been systematic and substantial CIA involvement in stirring up anti-Chinese troubles in Tibet, so Chinese fears of external attempts to destabilise Tibet are not irrational.

    5. As television images show, what is going on now in Tibetan regions is no longer a peaceful “spiritual” protest of monks as in Burma over the last year, but gangs burning and killing ordinary Chinese immigrants and their stores. We should measure the Tibetan protests by the same standards as we measure other violent protests: if Tibetans can attack Chinese immigrants, why can’t the Palestinians do the same to the Israeli settlers on the West Bank?

    6. The Chinese invested heavily in Tibetan economic development, as well as infrastructure, education and health services. Despite undeniable oppression, the average Tibetan has never enjoyed such a standard of living as today. Poverty is now worse in China’s own undeveloped Western rural provinces than in Tibet.

    You can read the entire article Here

  • An Independent, First-Hand Article on Tibet and the Departure of the Dalai Lama

  • You may be interested in reading this photo capture of a newspaper page, on a live report by a Mr. T. D. Allman who was in Tibet at the time. The article contains much first-hand and detailed information on the events that transpired in Tibet in the 1950s.

    In part, he refutes the claims that a strong China invaded a weaker Tibet. He tells us that in 1959, at the point where the Chinese were beginning to restore some order in Tibet, that the Dalai Lama was removed from the country and pressured to repudiate the agreements he had made with the Chinese.

    He tells us that the 'escape' of the Dalai Lama was "one of the CIA's greatest cold war triumphs", where lurid reports circulated of massacres and destroying priceless relics. He says the facts of the incident were very different from those reported.

    Among other things, Mr. Allman writes that the Dalai Lama's departure was engineered by the CIA who flew air cover for his party, dropping money and supplies, and strafing Chinese positions. Color film of this operation were taken, and the film has been viewed in the US by a number of people. It appears very clear that it was the Americans who wanted the Dalai Lama to leave Tibet, and not the Chinese who chose to dethrone him.

    You can read the entire article here.

  • Neither China nor Tibet even Remotely Resemble the Rubbish Published in the Western Press

  • The world should understand that China has never had imperial tendencies in the sense of wanting to conquer or occupy other neighboring lands. Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong have always been an integral part of China, and it is only those that China wants to keep.

    The Western press talks about repression in Tibet, but there is nothing of that. In fact, Tibet, with the Dalai Lama at its head, at times bordered on being brutally repressive, regularly resorting to torture to keep its citizens in line if religion didn't do the job.

    I have travelled to Tibet and have quite a few friends who have also been there, and by all accounts things are happy enough and progressing. It seems to be only the outside world that makes this an issue.

    If you are one of those "Free Tibet" people, it's high time someone told you that your ignorance and simple-mindedness are not virtues. You project some mythical dream onto the people about some imaginary "authentic Tibetan way of life", but you don't care at all about the real Tibetans. Perhaps you want a fantasy fulfilled to satisfy your own empty life. It would be better for everyone if you do that somewhere else, and stop sticking your nose into things you don't understand and that are none of your business.

    And if uninformed Americans want to 'save' somebody, they should perhaps focus on saving Hawaii. Tibet's history is cloudy, but that of Hawaii is crystal-clear. The US invaded Hawaill with gunships and forced the abdication of the Queen, just to give Bob Dole's relatives control of the plantations. The country was literally hijacked by a US civilian with the help of the US military. Anyone who wants some quick hard facts need only do a search for Bill Clinton's apology to the Kingdom of Hawaii - which was unanimously passed by both Houses of the US government.

  • Two Tibet Articles Worth Reading

  • Special report on Tibet: Its Past and Present

    Tibet: Dream and Reality