Richard Bennett is an intelligence and security consultant for AFI Research and in some people's eyes he is just stating what appears to be fairly obvious (if one were to look very closely at Tibet). But it's something that the Free Tibet movement and the Dalai Lama would probably prefer not to be proclaimed too loudly across the world.
He concurs that the CIA has had an involvement with the Dalai Lama that goes back 60 years; between the 1950s and 1970s, the CIA was fighting a proxy war within Tibet that cost tens of thousands of lives. Resistance to Chinese rule was funded by the CIA as was the Dalai Lama directly. So was this to keep the world safe from Communism? Decades ago the US was fighting in Vietnam and by keeping the Chinese tied up with Tibet it was a way of ensuring they were pre-occupied elsewhere. Basically, the CIA spotted a weakness as far as China was concerned with Tibet and it was more than determined to exploit it.
So what happened in the 70s?
Well there was that very famous meeting between President Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong. But according to Richard Bennett this didn't mean that all Tibet activities were reduced. It just meant that anything to do with Tibet had to be conducted in a covert manner. The Reagan Administration put a policy in place that meant organizations would receive funding through a third party network (a foundation or a surrogate) so that the trail could not be traced directly back to Washington. The path would be deniable.
But alliances change...
Business with China did change, there was much more rapprochement and over the years the CIA was eventually forced to downgrade its involvement with the Dalai Lama and rebrand him as a religious leader. So distance is now kept but Richard Bennett will still tell you this is for cosmetic purposes only.
What about the recent protests?
China was quick to blame the protests on the Dalai Lama and the Tibeten government in exile. So is Beijing correct or was it just something that spontaneously happened? Some western observers have come to the conclusion that it was too well organized. Chinese authorities have blanket coverage of surveillance over Tibet and yet they were taken by surprise. The only way this could have happened in the way it did was if the unrest had been planned from outside of Tibet. Whether this was all designed and organized by the Dalai Lama or those close to the Free Tibet movement is unclear.
What is the Free Tibet Movement?
According to Richard Bennett, it is there to make sure (as far as the CIA is concerned) that Washington has a route into Tibet. It's important to make clear that the vast majority of people within the Free Tibet Movement have no connection with the CIA but it does serve as a useful cover under which covert activities take place.
If all of this is true is this just some loose connection? Is the Dalai Lama and the Free Tibet Movement just one of many happy to receive money from the CIA along with ... you name it thousands of "innocent" groups who have an axe to grind with autocratic governments or not so friendly western states. Should any of us care - most of us would probably be happy to see Beijing start a sensible path to independence for Tibetan people and who should worry if millions of dollars each year were being transferred into secret bank accounts?
I guess it's more a question of manipulation - at what stage do you become a pawn in someone else's game of geopolitics. And then when alliances shift and re-align can you really fully trust who was backing your future just yesterday?
title: A Quest for a Free Tibet artist: FM4 Reality Check length: 17:30 MP3 (16.774MB) | WMA
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