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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?"

Opinion: The Tibetan Buffer

July 19, 2010

About Ross Douthat
The New York Times
July 15, 2010

"British forces invaded Tibet in 1904 and
administered it until 1947. Their aim was to
create what they self-consciously called a
‘buffer state’ to protect their immense interests
in India, then run by the British Raj, from
potential advances by Russia and China. Tibet was
turned into a guard dog for Britain’s vast Indian
Empire. And the British discovered that the idea
of Tibet as a mystical, paranormal land — that
is, not a normal state and certainly not a part
of those other normal states of China or Russia —
was a very useful propaganda tool … Indeed, it is
during that period of the self-serving
Orientalism of British rule in Tibet that the
popular modern image of Tibet as a mystical,
cut-off entity takes shape — most notably in
James Hilton’s Lost Horizon (1933), which
invented the idea of ‘Shangri La’ … The writings
of the British imperialists, and of their
sympathisers, are still regularly cited in the
propaganda produced by the Dalai Lama’s people,
which is designed to prove that Tibet is a unique
and special place that only they can and should
govern … What connects the old imperialists with
the new Tibetophiles is their desire to have
Tibet as a ‘buffer state’ – only where the
imperialists wanted to use Tibet to protect their
material interests against China and Russia, the
new lot want to use it to protect their emotional
interests, to preserve an idea of innocent,
childlike humanity so far uncorrupted by modernity."

Brendan O’Neill reports from Tibet.
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