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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

'Freeing Tibet'

July 15, 2009

Tony Blankley, Washington Times

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

As I cruise around the Greek Isles for a few weeks, I want to 
recommend a truly remarkable book for your summer reading, "Freeing 
Tibet: 50 years of Struggle, Resilience, and Hope" by my great friend 
John B. Roberts and his wife, Elizabeth Roberts. (While I am blessed 
to have many friends who write good books, my regular readers know I 
am not in the habit of reviewing them. But this book is so 
distinctively fascinating that it deserves to be reviewed -- and 
widely read.)

I confess to not having been particularly fascinated by Tibet, the 
Dalai Lama or even Buddhism when I picked up the book. Yet I couldn't 
put it down. I suspect that the unique fascination of this book 
derives from the curious background and strange mix of skills, 
knowledge and ideals of co-author Mr. Roberts combined with Mrs. 
Roberts' rigorous researching skills and deep appreciation of 
Buddhism. Mr. Roberts is an Oxford-trained art historian, former White 
House political operative, television producer, Olympic-caliber 
international expert small-arms shot who is intimately connected to 
our intelligence services and also is an experienced operative in the 
process of transitioning repressed nations toward fuller freedom (with 
personal experience in such places as Uruguay, Kazakhstan, Romania, 
the Ukraine and South Africa, inter alia).

And it takes just such skills and passions of the co-authors to 
understand and describe so captivatingly the as-yet-unfinished story 
of Tibet's struggle for cultural survival and freedom. Thus they move 
effortlessly between explanations of Tibetan Buddhist culture (the 
young Tibetan nobles who led the guerrilla war against the Chinese 
occupiers descended from very tall nomadic tribesmen who called 
themselves "ten dzong ma mi" -- warriors of theocracy) -- and a 
technical explanation for why the 57-mm recoilless rifle is 
ineffective at the optimal safe distance (a range of 1,000 yards) for 
Tibetan guerrillas to attack Chinese bunkers.

At its core, "Freeing Tibet" is about what was, until this book, the 
largely unknown CIA operation to back Tibet's guerrillas in their 
fight against Communist China at the height of the Cold War. The 
Robertses reveal for the first time in this book most of the details 
of how the CIA smuggled the Dalai Lama out of Tibet, ran a multiyear 
propaganda campaign and covertly aided both the Dalai Lama and the 
guerrilla campaign for years.

The bare outlines of this astonishing bit of secret history was first 
publicly reported in 1996 by Mr. Roberts in John Kennedy Jr.'s George 
Magazine. (Full disclosure: As the book points out, at the time I was 
editor at large at George Magazine and arranged for Mr. Kennedy's 
editorial team to become acquainted with Mr. Roberts regarding this 
Tibet operation.)

Both then and for this book, the authors were given the green light to 
reveal this most successful and benign CIA Cold War operation by the 
late Howard Bane, to whom this book is dedicated. Mr. Bane was the 
street man for the CIA on the Tibet operation at the time under the 
leadership of legendary CIA agent Desmond FitzGerald -- the model for 
James Bond and a friend of President John F. Kennedy's.

The worldly Mr. Bane went on to shrewdly lead all agency field 
operations during the CIA's later halcyon days.

But the CIA's operation to protect the Dalai Lama and guide Tibet's 
fight for freedom under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson is 
only the first part of this extraordinary book and extraordinary real-
life history.

"Freeing Tibet" goes deeply behind the scenes of the Nixon White House 
to describe how and why, as part of their historic Cold War 
triangulation with Red China to isolate the Soviet Union, President 
Nixon and Henry Kissinger ended the CIA program (much to the 
consternation of the CIA and the Tibetans but to the great 
satisfaction of Mao Tse-tung and his regime.)

And then, the authors paint the implausible but historically precisely 
accurate picture of the CIA's protective role being passed on to Jack 
Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and others of the counterculture Beat 
Generation as they discover Tibetan Buddhism, meet the Dalai Lama and 
start an international religious/cultural/celebrity driven campaign to 
protect -- through publicity both the Dalai Lama and the entire 
struggle for "Freeing Tibet" that continues today through the efforts 
of celebrities such as Richard Gere.

In the final chapters of the book, the authors bring online their 
practical knowledge of White House operations and the use of economic 
strategies previously used to help liberate countries such as South 
Africa, to suggest a practical campaign targeted on Communist China to 
finally gain Tibet its long overdue freedom.

While this book has been expertly and technically crafted, at heart it 
is a passionate act of advocacy that has become, in the short months 
since its release, a part of the campaign committed to freeing Tibet. 
Read the book and, if you can, join the struggle

Tony Blankley is the author of "American Grit: What It Will Take to 
Survive and Win in the 21st Century" and vice president of the Edelman 
public-relations firm in Washington.
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