The Dalai Lama's Dilemma

American Footprints on the Chinese attempt to marginalize the Dalai Lama:

By linking the Dalai Lama to the unrestwhich he opposes (and the Chinese know he opposes)the Chinese are forcing the Dalai Lama either to repudiate the Tibetan militants and split the emigre Tibetan movement, or endorse the insurrection and permit the Chinese to portray him as an impotent captive of extremist forces.

For those unfamiliar with the Chinese pattern of denunciation, polarization, division, and destruction this is a classic tactic--call it Police State 101--intended to isolate the target of a purge by forcing him to denounce his associatesor force the target to incriminate himself by not forswearing alliance with a vulnerable, isolated, and discredited element that the Chinese government is about to land on like a ton of bricks. [...]

The most immediate result of Tibetan militancy will be to unite the Chinese and isolate the moderates on the Tibetan side, while undermining the political standing of Tibet’s most effective political figure, the Dalai Lama, as spokesman for a unified, internationally popular political and diplomatic movement.

That’s bad politics and dumb tactics...and it's exactly what the Chinese have been trying to accomplish for the last five decades.

The worst case is that the Tibetan unrest and toothless Western censure unite Chinese elite and Chinese public opinion in favor of another one of those major security actions against Tibet’s isolated people and fragile institutions that seem to happen every twenty years.

This one might end up destroying the Dalai Lama’s authority as a leader, encourage the Chinese to further interfere in Tibetan politics and culture by aggressively inserting itself into the search for the next reincarnation, split Tibetan Bhuddism between a PRC-sponsored Dalai Lama in Lhasa and an untested child in Dharamsala, redefine the emigres as a collection of secular, angry--and vulnerable--dissidents, and put the Tibetan regions securely under Beijing’s thumb for another generation.

That’s a potential win big enough to compensate for some embarrassment at the Olympics.