Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth
The issue was joined in 1956-57, when armed Tibetan bands ambushed convoys of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army. The uprising received extensive assistance from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including military training, support camps in Nepal, and numerous airlifts.27 Meanwhile in the United States, the American Society for a Free Asia, a CIA-financed front, energetically publicized the cause of Tibetan resistance, with the Dalai Lama’s eldest brother, Thubtan Norbu, playing an active role in that organization. The Dalai Lama's second-eldest brother, Gyalo Thondup, established an intelligence operation with the CIA as early as 1951. He later upgraded it into a CIA-trained guerrilla unit whose recruits parachuted back into Tibet.28
Many Tibetan commandos and agents whom the CIA dropped into the country were chiefs of aristocratic clans or the sons of chiefs. Ninety percent of them were never heard from again, according to a report from the CIA itself, meaning they were most likely captured and killed.29 “Many lamas and lay members of the elite and much of the Tibetan army joined the uprising, but in the main the populace did not, assuring its failure,” writes Hugh Deane.30 In their book on Tibet, Ginsburg and Mathos reach a similar conclusion: “As far as can be ascertained, the great bulk of the common people of Lhasa and of the adjoining countryside failed to join in the fighting against the Chinese both when it first began and as it progressed.”31 Eventually the resistance crumbled.
26. Heinrich Harrer, Return to Tibet (New York: Schocken, 1985), 29.
27 See Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, The CIA's Secret War in Tibet (Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 2002); and William Leary, "Secret Mission to Tibet," Air & Space, December 1997/January 1998.
28. On the CIA's links to the Dalai Lama and his family and entourage, see Loren Coleman, Tom Slick and the Search for the Yeti (London: Faber and Faber, 1989).
29. Leary, "Secret Mission to Tibet."
30. Hugh Deane, "The Cold War in Tibet," CovertAction Quarterly (Winter 1987).
31. George Ginsburg and Michael Mathos Communist China and Tibet (1964), quoted in Deane, "The Cold War in Tibet." Deane notes that author Bina Roy reached a similar conclusion.
32. See Greene, A Curtain of Ignorance, 248 and passim; and Grunfeld, The Making of Modern Tibet, passim.
And let's go to the Pentagon for the latest propaganda.
Tibet Revolts Against China
Historic Newsreel about the 1959 revolt by Tibet that eventually forced the young Dalai Lama into exile in India. Archival footage provided by The Military Network. To learn more about The Military Network, go to www.redafilms.com. (187.95s)
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