Monday, March 24, 2008

Separatist Movements...Tibet

Most people pull for the underdog, whether it is in sports or in national separatist movements. But all separatist movements are not the same.

In the 1980s, the Soviet Union crumbled leaving fifteen commonwealth states, with Russia still maintaining a dominant role. After WWI and WWII, there were major national boundary realignments. We have seen a re-drawing of Balkan boundaries. The U.S. fought for its independence from England in the 1770s. It has happened in most places in the world, from Asia, Europe, Africa the Americas to the isles of the seas.

But not all movements are in the best interests of the parties -- from an outsider's perspective. In the U.S., we fought a bloody war between the states. Would we have been better off as the USA and CSA...or fifty different nations? Are the Balkan nations better off as independent nations. Would Scotland and Wales be better off as independent nations? Would Taiwan be better off as an independent nation? Would Tibet be better off as an independent country?

Tibetan history does not provide a clear answer. What's interesting about this current uprising by the Buddhist Monks and others favoring an independent Tibet is that it is not limited to the Tibet Autonomous Region; it has spilled over into Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces.

In a remote place like Tibet, complete independence might be a dream come true for many but economically, it will be a disaster. Some countries lack the physical resources, the population, the transportation systems to succeed in today's world. Economic growth requires opportunity, financing, infrastructure, education and a growing population with strong work ethic and a willingness to become a global player.

An independent Tibet, sandwiched between India and China, would be less viable than Mongolia (also caught between two major powers). Even the Dalai Lama has not demanded complete independence, rather greater autonomy within China.

China is a communist nation. It does hard core communists things. It views its citizens as robots operating to fulfill the government's long-term plans. The concept of independence is communist blasphemy.

Greater autonomy should be Tibet's aspiration. Complete independence is not always in the best interests of both parties.

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