President Obama Correct To Meet Dalai Lama At White House

I am very pleased that today President Obama will greet the Dalai Lama in the White House.  My passion for his matter runs deep.   I had stated several weeks ago that such a meeting should take place.  I was wrong however to have assumed that the President would never meet Tibet’s spiritual leader in the White House.  Reports are that the meeting will indeed take place in the people’s house! 

The very fact that this meeting will occur in this fashion underscores the gravity of concern that President Obama feels over the severe manner in which China deals with both political and religious opponents.  That is a huge statement, and one that places Obama in a more firm position regarding his foreign policy stance, and no doubt initiatives going forward.

I am filled with pride that our President will have a meeting in this fashion as it makes a very necessary statement.   Even though China is a major international player and one that we have a very complicated relationship with, we are not going to shove human rights aside.  Secretary of State Clinton has made less than artful comments about the need to have other issues placed ahead of human rights, thereby giving China a pass in hopes of allowing other policy goals such as Iran sanctions a better chance of success.  Time has proved the folly of this thinking about China.  We all know that China is not reliable when it comes to Iran, or many other matters that the United States understands to be vital. 

Today’s meeting is another example of the power that a President can exercise.  The gesture of this meeting will not be missed around America, across China, and most importantly in the hearts of the Tibetan people.

Thanks, Mr. President.

Boycotting The Summer Olympic Games In China

I for one was very pleased to see the protests taking place in Paris, London, and now San Francisco over the human rights abuses and dreadful foreign policy decisions by China.  At a time when too many here think of Iraq and the Middle East when the extremely broad topic of foreign policy is mentioned, it is important that Chinese policies be brought to the center of our global awareness.

I have long argued that the decision by President Nixon to go to China was more important than the Watergate affair.  As deeply damaging as Watergate was to the political culture in our nation, the fact is the positive effects of Nixon’s famous China trip are more important.  The long lasting impact of opening lines of dialogue and trade has benefited both our nations, and fostered connections that will serve all in the future.  If we do what is right.

By having international connections with China does not mean there are not serious differences that will require honest debate and action.  We should not be blind to the fact that every nation that we consider to be a rouge state has the support of China.  China policy to these nations comes in various forms, be it militarily or economic.  Iran is but perhaps the most central example to many who follow the headlines.  But the issues that arise from Chinese policies in places like Tibet and Darfur, and which do not see the banner headlines everyday, are worthy of the reaction that has been seen over the Olympic Games to be held this summer in China.

The ability of leveraging China to move in a more humane direction is one of the benefits of having diplomatic relations with the most populous nation in the world.  We should not, and must not abdicate our role on the world stage.  There is an old saying that “the road to the East runs through the West.”    If the United States uses the clout we now have on the world stage, and in conjunction with our European allies, we can set again a tone and series of expectations about Chinese foreign policy.   There are rules that govern civilized nations, and the world community.

We have the ability to do this, since our primacy on the world stage is not in doubt today.  But with China growing in economic and military power, that chance will not be forever ours to take.  By banding together with leaders such as Prime Minister Brown, and French President Szarkozy we have an opportunity to make a statement about what we think is most important in the world.  As China rises as a world power it does so at a time when open and democratic nations rule the world.  To not coerce China to play by the international rules will set up a world struggle that we will soon regret. 

We have an opportunity with the Olympic Games.  The protestors have opened the door.  Will the United States be willing to lead the world through the door?

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