The Dalai Lama, who has been exiled from his own country of Tibet for over half a century, offered some thoughts on the Syrian refugee crisis during the dedication of his Center for Compassion at Oxford, as related by the UK Telegraph.:
He spoke of the need for the interests of “humanity” to come before those of countries or even continents.
But asked for his impressions on the European response to the refugee crisis, he said: “I think some, especially Germany, [have given] a very good response, and Austria.
“And then this country also now is showing serious consideration about that – wonderful. [Note: this is evidently a reference to the UK thinking about taking in more Syrian refugees.]
“But then you have to think, it is impossible for [everyone outside] Europe [to] come to Europe, impossible.
“They are taking care about these refugees, a small number, but ultimately we have to think how to reduce this killing in their own countries.
“And the way to reduce [that] is not using force … in certain cases maybe but generally using force never solves these problems.”
He said that only education, dialogue, and personal contact could resolve conflicts in the long-term.
“So taking care of several thousand refugees [is] wonderful, but [in the] mean time you have to think about long-term solutions, how to bring genuine peace and genuine development, mainly through education, for these Muslim countries,” he said.
This is, broadly speaking, what one would expect the Dalai Lama to say, but it has very little to do with what is happening on the ground in Syria, or anywhere else people are being oppressed, including Tibet.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Chinese Communists found the use of force to be a highly effective solution to their Dalai Lama problem. As the very same Telegraph article points out, the Chinese did not just force this particular spiritual leader out of his country; they have nearly obliterated his entire faith tradition. They have actually asserted the power to decide if he gets reincarnated, and he is not putting up much of a fight. He actually made a joke about how Beijing cares more about his prospective reincarnation than he does. He may very well be the final Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama has a sound point about how Europe cannot solve the Syrian crisis by taking in refugees. Arguably, Syria’s problems will grow worse because of Europe’s compassion.
There have been reports the Assad regime is taking advantage of Europe’s open borders to consolidate power by encouraging more dissident citizens to flee Syria. Assad might even be making significant progress toward purging Sunni Muslims from his Shiite-backed, Alawite-dominated state. The remaining Sunnis in Syria will likely be more tractable once the bloody work of destroying ISIS and al-Qaeda is complete. Troubled dictatorships and squalid kleptocracies often welcome the opportunity to offload their excess population.
Exporting problems does not “solve” them; they tend to grow worse during transit, and are dumped on people who did nothing to deserve the burden. The notion that violent conflict is a result of misunderstanding is comforting, as it offers constructive solutions to a destructive menace, but not well-supported by the actual history of violence.