A week ago when the White House let it be known that President Obama would not meet with the Dalai Lama during his current visit to Washington, D.C., we were among those who condemned the decision as both morally wrong and a mistaken appeasement of China. But we’re glad to note that the president thought better of his decision and invited the exiled Tibetan leader to the White House for a private meeting on Saturday.
Among the hallmarks of the administration’s foreign policy has been Obama’s disinterest in the cause of human rights and a desire to appease powerful tyrants. Thus, the president refused to see the Dalai Lama during his first year in office and then did his best to downplay it when he did meet him. He seemed more interested in bowing to China’s demands to isolate the revered religious leader than in making a statement about the rights of Tibetans. So the reversal of the announced snub of the Tibetan icon gives an unexpected boost to supporters of Tibet and a well-deserved slap to the Chinese.
We don’t know whether this one meeting is a signal the president will take a bit more interest in the religious persecution and cultural genocide taking place inside the Chinese empire or other human rights causes that might cause the administration to risk the displeasure of other tyrannical regimes. Frankly, we’re skeptical about that. But we can always hope.