Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Tibet card won't help Obama

By Andre Vltchek (China Daily) Updated: 2011-07-20 08:14

It seems to be no secret that US President Barack Obama is deeply mired in his country's economic mess. Recovery is painfully slow, unemployment (and under-employment) persistently soaring. The debt crisis is profound, while the overall mood on American streets appears to be gloomy, parallel to continuous social decline. Medical reforms are on hold, some say permanently stalled.

On the foreign front, the Afghanistan War is dragging, described by many experts as "unwinnable", the Libyan campaign is turning into an embarrassment and the rest of the African continent - from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Somalia, Rwanda and Uganda - is suffering from aggressive US policies geared to covert plunder of natural resources.

There is very little to celebrate as the 2012 US presidential election approaches. Many voters still remember the moving "Yes We Can!" rallying cry but are now asking what exactly it was all about.

It seems that one way to gain a breath of air and some rest from political pressure would be to attack someone else, preferably a country that is doing much better on both economic and social fronts.

And so, as a well-tested workhorse of Western propaganda, the Dalai Lama visited White House on July 16 to give, simply by his presence, support to the embattled US president and the whole system.

China immediately lodged a protest accusing Obama of undermining relations between the two countries. But acts like this play well in some circles of the inward looking country that is the US. By inviting the Dalai Lama, Obama showed to Republicans that he is "tough on China" and "indifferent of foreign pressure".

Just as an American scholar says, in the US, the Dalai Lama is portrayed as a religious symbol - a holy man - and who would not feel sympathy for the old man who likes to fix watches.

Naturally, the Dalai Lama's visit to Washington brought no gain to American voters. And there was nothing particularly brave or innovative about Obama's invitation: for decades, the Dalai Lama has been willingly traveling the world, criticizing China, offering a helping hand to politicians who believe that the West has a moral mandate to teach the universe about good governance and human rights, despite its own dreadful colonial past and neo-colonial present.

For certain reasons, many in the US establishment see confronting China as a brave and productive act. In reality, such an approach simply diverts the Western public's attention from real issues and undermines the prospects for peaceful coexistence between the West and the most populous nation on earth, which is now also the second largest economy.

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