Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Putting The Other Foot Into It

"What say we burn down some Bush?"

As Larry Craig's travails and reclamation effort dominates the national news scene, little noticed on the mainstream media was America's attempts this weekend to create an "us v. them" handicap tag team match in the global wrestling ring:
BEIJING (Reuters) - China expressed fury on Tuesday that the United States is to honor the Dalai Lama with an award and warned that the activities of his supporters were increasing in Chinese-controlled Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since staging a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, is to receive the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday after being hosted at the White House by President George W. Bush.

"We are furious," Tibet's Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, told reporters. "If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world."
Now, say what you will in admiration of the Dalai Lama-- and I do-- the timing on this award is suspect, to say the least.

First off, you have Secretary of State Condi Rice (no full names here, she hasn't earned that distinction) picking a fight with the Russians. That little masterful piece of idiocy came hard on the heels of Vladimir Putin treating Condi and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates like unruly schoolchildren the day before, making them cool their heels for 40 minutes outside his office before scolding them for the new missile defense program.

I think we know whom he really wanted to scold, the Boy King in the White House, but he settled.

And now this dust-up with China. The Chinese issue with the Dalai Lama is simple: they can't harm him directly, since he lives in exile in India.

Think of the Dalai Lama as China's Castro, and you have an inkling of the difficult position China has found itself in. Now add to that the fact that the Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of nearly a billion Chinese (despite the official atheist stance of the government), Tibetans and Mongolians.

It's as if Castro was a high Israeli Rabbi. The Dalai Lama has enormous influence in China by not being there.

Talk about a moment of Zen!

The only legitimate reason I can think of (bear with me, I'm thinking as I type this) for pissing off BOTH Russia and China in the same week is to create a three-way dynamic of mistrust.

China and Russia have improved relations in the past twenty years in a way that China and America have not, and in opposition to the way America and Russia have frosted their relationship during the current administrations (Bush and Putin's, I mean). To drive some sort of wedge in between them woudl probably limit any concerted efforts on their part to foment opposition to any moves we might make in the Middle East, including invading Iran, if indeed that is on the table.

But to be sure, not only is this a stupid strategy in terms of accomplishing its goal ("the enemy of my enemy is not my enemy"), it's flat out dangerous for America.

So, in the past four days, the United States President has embarked on a mission of antagonistes, taking direct aim at human rights violations by our two biggest rivals, and sticking their noses in them.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...I don't see a whole lot of upside to this, do you?