America Is Provoking China. Dangerously.

When the Chinese Communist Party Leader of Tibet lodges a strong complaint about the Dalai Lama receiving the Congressional Gold Medal – our nation’s highest civilian honor – we can nod understandingly and move on without any change in feeling or action (so says the natural diplomat within me). But when a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic condemns the gesture as “gravely undermining” Chinese-American relations, we ought to stop for a moment and consider.

What does the US have to gain by awarding the Dalai Lama a Congressional Gold Medal? And not only awarding this honor, but widely publicizing the event as well, going as far as releasing highly provocative photos of the President and the D.L. chumming it up in the White House and in front of the Congress building. Whether he deserves it or not is not the issue my granola-blooded friends: judging from what I’ve heard from those who’ve met the Dalai Lama, the he’s such a worthy human being that an entire truck-load of Congressional Gold Medals couldn’t begin to represent his worthiness. What matters is that the United States is honoring a man who the Chinese government – and, therefor, a great majority of the Chinese people – believe to be a dangerous separatist.

And we’re doing this precisely during China’s five-yearly Party Congress, where the government announces its policy for the next five years and chooses new senior leaders.

China is not just posturing here — America is provoking. And why?

There are already high odds that the kids that are in preschool right now will grow up to fight one of the most horrible wars, perhaps the most horrible war, that our planet has ever seen. And little gestures like this one – pointless, blatant, insulting – bring us ever closer, ever closer.

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