Tuesday, October 20, 2009

“It is only a minor compromise,” Havel says of Obama's snub of the Dalai Lama; “But with these minor compromises start the big and dangerous problems"

Vaclav Havel had a question as he opened a meeting with the New York Times' Alison Smale.
Was it true that President Obama had refused to meet the Dalai Lama in Washington?

Mr. Havel is a fan of the Dalai Lama, who was among the first visitors to Prague’s storied castle after Mr. Havel moved in there as president, the final act in the swift, smooth revolution of 1989. A picture of the Dalai Lama is displayed prominently in Mr. Havel’s current office in central Prague.
Told that Mr. Obama had made clear he would receive the Dalai Lama after his first presidential visit to China in November, Mr. Havel reached out to touch a magnificent glass dish, inscribed with the preamble to the United States Constitution — a gift from Mr. Obama, who visited in April.
“It is only a minor compromise,” Mr. Havel said of the nonreception of the Tibetan leader. “But exactly with these minor compromises start the big and dangerous ones, the real problems."
One letter to the editor noted that the Nobel Prize winner (i.e., the Tibetan leader) snubbed by the Nobel Prize winner (i.e., the Apologizer-in-Chief) is nothing less than a modern-day Gandhi and that
The American president would do well to heed Mr. Havel’s warning that coddling of rights-abusing nations is a “road to hell.”
(Incidentally, at least four paragraphs of the International Herald Tribune version were omitted in the online version of Smale's Václav Havel report, including the final para with the "road to hell" quote.) Even Maureen Dowd has dropped her usual scorn and irony to say that
The tyro American president got the Nobel for the mere anticipation that he would provide bold moral leadership for the world at the very moment he was caving to Chinese dictators. Awkward.