Last month, President Obama was faced with a slimy situation. The Dalai Lama was to visit the White House, and China frowned upon it.
China urged the United States to cancel the meeting between the leader of the free world and the leader of a non-free region of the world, Tibet, threatening damage to Sino-U.S. relations.
This got me thinking about how the mighty have almost fallen. Turn the wheels of time two decades ago, and who’d have thought China would have the audacity to threaten sanctions against the world’s superpower?
That’s what an outrageous budget deficit and an economy meltdown can do — put you at the mercy of a developing country.
China currently holds close to $800 billion of federal U.S debts and is a major player in crucial negotiations with North Korea and Iran.
You want a sketchy picture of what a post-American dominated world looks like, here you go: China dictates and America follows.
As to whether the current state of affairs is the best (an American-dominated world), I can’t give a definitive answer, but I do know that a world totally or slightly dominated by China isn’t the Promised Land.
Anyway, Obama did the right thing by meeting with the Dalai Lama, and his bad-boy defiance was not born out of egoism or hot-headedness but careful rationalization.
There was a reason the meeting was low key, and a well thought out reason at that. The president offered sympathy and words of hope to the Tibetan leader rather than promises of action.
The babble behind the news of Obama’s insolence made for good sound bites, but that’s all.
Americans are down on their luck because of the economy and because they realize the U.S. doesn’t hold as much power over China as it used to — adding salt to injury. Try it, it hurts.
Obama kept the rhetoric sweet and vague, saying he was supportive and sympathetic to the people of Tibet, but didn’t dare mention any practical assistance.
In fact, the White House took it a step further by reassuring the People’s Republic of China that the U.S. acknowledges Tibet as an integral part of its territory. That wasn’t so defiant in nature.
This is the reality behind the political theater: the Obama administration realizes China has them pinned. But in an attempt to seem stronger and not step on China’s golden toes, they are being extremely cautious.
If the Obama administration was seeking to be truly audacious, this is how the script would have played out: Obama would have broadcast the meeting with the Dalai Lama and prepared a lavish state dinner.
Then he would make promises to the Tibetan people about helping them gain freedom from the China.
And as a final spate, he would prepare sanctions against China because of alleged human rights violations. Now that would be bold. But he didn’t.
Given the current fix the U.S. is in and the state of international affairs, that would have been stupidity on America’s part.
Obama opted for a diplomatic step that incorporated both the reality of tense relations with China and America’s need to be or seem in control.
Once again, Obama has proved how to navigate the treacherous seas of foreign relations all too well.
Food For Thought: Life’s battle is not a battle of muscles or egos but rather of heart and wisdom, where only the rational and diplomatic survive.