Obama bows again

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

The last time the Dalai Lama vis­ited Wash­ing­ton, Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush pre­sented the ex­iled Ti­betan leader with the Con­gres­sional Gold Medal at a cer­e­mony on Capi­tol Hill. Now the Dalai Lama can­not even get a pri­vate meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Obama. The only win­ner in this re­buff is com­mu­nist China.

This is the first time since 1991 that the Dalai Lama will visit our na­tion’s cap­i­tal and not meet with the sit­ting pres­i­dent. The White House re­port­edly claims it means no dis­re­spect to the Ti­betan leader but is wary of cre­at­ing con­tro­versy ahead of Mr. Obama’s sum­mit with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao next month.

The Obama White House shows an in­or­di­nate — one might say ob­ses­sive — amount of con­cern for other coun­tries’ sen­si­tiv­i­ties. The pres­i­dent and his team seem fix­ated on the no­tion that the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion ru­ined Amer­ica’s im­age in the world and it is the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s his­toric mis­sion to re­pair it. This idea is so en­trenched it be­came the ba­sis for Mr. Obama’s ship­wrecked bid to bring the Olympics to Chicago. That em­bar­rass­ing fail­ure should teach the pres­i­dent that nine months into his pres­i­dency, the anti-Bush line has grown stale. He’s not Mr. Bush. The world gets the point — and is yawn­ing.

Mr. Obama ac­tu­ally could learn a thing or two from Pres­i­dent Bush about U.S.-Sino diplo­macy. The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion skill­fully man­aged the re­la­tion­ship with Bei­jing while not com­pro­mis­ing U.S. sup­port for the Ti­betan peo­ple or for Tai­wan. By com­par­i­son, Mr. Obama sim­ply comes across as weak. Snub­bing the Dalai Lama is a case in point. It would be a mark of prin­ci­pled lead­er­ship to wel­come the Dalai Lama and pub­licly reaf­firm the jus­tice of his cause. Amer­ica need not jet­ti­son its com­mit­ment to free­dom just to curry fa­vor with some for­eign leaders.

We con­sis­tently have de­plored com­mu­nist China’s sub­ju­ga­tion of Ti­bet, its sup­pres­sion of Ti­betan re­li­gion and cul­ture, and the oc­ca­sional shock­ing acts of bru­tal­ity per­pe­trated by Bei­jing to keep Ti­bet un­der its heel. The Obama team re­port­edly is telling the Ti­betans that it sup­ports them too but wants to de­liver sub­stance, not sym­bol­ism. Yet Mr. Obama should un­der­stand that in this case, the lack of pos­i­tive sym­bol­ism has a sub­stance of its own. If the pres­i­dent will not sup­port the Ti­betan cause when it is easy to do, he can­not be counted on to make dif­fi­cult choices when times are tough.

So far, ev­ery time Mr. Obama has a chance to stand for some­thing on the world stage, he bows in­stead.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.