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The Dalai Lama and the CIA [Copy link] 中文

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Part One

Shortly after the 1949 victory of Maoist forces against the U.S.-backed dictator Chiang Kai-shek, the revolution came to Tibet. The ruling class of Tibet--a feudal class of aristocrats and monks--alternated wildly between passivity and resistance.

Starting in 1957, sections of their class participated in a series of armed anti-communist actions--attempting to stop the deepening revolutionary changes in Tibet. Lamaist propagandists, including the Dalai Lama himself, portray these actions as a noble, home-grown resistance to foreign domination.

The truth is this: from its beginning within Tibet in the 1950s to the armed feudalist uprising of 1959, to the armed exile-based guerrilla movement of the 1960s--this "struggle" was organized, financed, trained, armed, led, and finally dispersed by the CIA.
In the old days, the Dalai Lama was a figurehead of an oppressive feudal order. In exile, he became the figurehead of a Tibetan CIA-backed, anticommunist armed movement headed by his brother, Gyalo Thondup--similar to so many "contra" (counterrevolutionary) armies the CIA has created to wage covert wars.

@STARS = *****
"Many of the arms were brought in from abroad. The rebels' base south of the Tsangpo river on a number of occasions received airdropped supplies from the Chiang Kai-shek bands and radio stations were set up by agents sent by the imperialists and the Chiang Kai-shek bands for their intrigues."

The revolutionary news agency Xinhua, March 1959
"Nobody, either in committed or uncommitted countries, would be taken in by the communist allegation that... the rebellion was supported by `imperialists, the Chiang Kai-shek bands and foreign reactionaries.' "       The Economist 1959

"There is nothing at all coming in from the outside."   Thubten Norbu, the Dalai Lama's brother, interviewed in U.S. News and World Report, 1959

In the early 1950s, the U.S. invaded Korea and threatened to invade revolutionary China itself. Meanwhile, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) worked day and night to gather reactionary forces into its spy networks and to develop covert teams that could wage secret war against the new people's power in China.

In April 1949 U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson cabled his Ambassador in New Delhi that the U.S. rulers would like to see "Tibetan military capacity [to] resist quietly strengthened." Tibet historian A. Tom Grunfeld writes: "In the summer of 1950 instructions were given to the Office of Policy Coordination, the bureaucratic arm officially in charge of covert operations, to `initiate psychological warfare and paramilitary operations against the Chinese Communist regime.' "

Top feudal forces around the Dalai Lama offered themselves as eager agents--first to the reactionary Kuomintang (KMT) forces led by Chiang Kai-shek on Taiwan and soon to the U.S. directly. The Dalai Lama's two older brothers, the "incarnated lama" Thubten Jigme Norbu and Gyalo Thondup, emerged as key Tibetan CIA agents.

Grunfeld writes, "George Patterson...was intimately involved as a translator and go-between in these negotiations. He reported that in 1953 Thubten Norbu contacted the CIA and was told to take his case to the KMT (from whom he was already receiving covert aid). Patterson also recalled an encounter two years later between Ragpa Pangdatsang and representatives from the Indian and American governments. At this time the United States was supposed to have suggested a ten-year plan of revolt, the aim of which was the eventual overthrow of China's control in Tibet.... John F. Avedon, whose recent book can be considered the `official' version of the Dalai Lama view of history, contends that Gyalo Thondup made an agreement with the CIA as early as 1951.

It was initially an intelligence-gathering arrangement upgraded to guerrilla warfare in 1956. Within a short space of time the United States had eclipsed the KMT as the rebel's prime source of military aid." Grunfeld adds that in opening these arrangements with the U.S. imperialists, Thubten Norbu carried "a letter authorizing him to negotiate on behalf of the Dalai Lama." In 1958, the CIA started using air bases in Bangkok, Thailand to airdrop guns and ammunition into the ethnic-Tibetan regions of Kham.

Grunfeld writes: "It was Gyalo Thondup who arranged the first CIA training missions, picking six Tibetans for that purpose." A secret CIA training camp was soon set up for Tibetan agents at Camp Hale, high in the Colorado Rockies.

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Part Two

Tibetan Plots--Made in the USA

The CIA intrigues encouraged an armed uprising in March 1959, as feudal forces tried to expel the revolutionary army from Tibet. Grunfeld writes: "Despite cries of innocence on the part of the Dalai Lama, officials in Washington were planning for the events months before that fateful March in 1959."

In March 1959, the feudal Tibetan forces were quickly defeated. The Dalai Lama was whisked into exile in India by a covert CIA operation. Grunfeld documents that CIA-trained agents in the Dalai Lama's caravan laid out special airdrop targets in the snow to guide a U.S. military C130 aircraft that had been specially modified to fly in the thin Tibetan air. Halfway to India, a radio operator joined the Dalai Lama's group so the whole operation could be directly monitored from the CIA station in Dacca, East Pakistan.

The CIA immediately set up a Tibetan contra force among the exiles. Ten Tibetan contra camps were set up in the tiny principality of Mustang on the Nepal-China border. The CIA had three more C130s modified for high altitude airdrops. Grunfeld writes: "This major recruiting effort yielded 14,000 Tibetans and some additional tribal people in the field, `entirely dependent on long-range transport and infiltration,' and `armed, equipped and fed by the Agency [CIA].' "

In 1961 the Dalai Lama said: "the only weapons that the [lamaist] rebels possess are those they've managed to capture from the Chinese." Some reports say the Dalai Lama personally picked the contra field commander in Mustang.

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Part Three

India's War Threats

At this time, the Indian government was preparing a border war with revolutionary China, and their direct involvement in the Tibetan contra army picked up. At a secret Indian base in Orissa, U.S. agents, Indian officials and Tibetan contras met weekly to coordinate their activities. The first Tibetan contra raid into China was staged in late 1961, just before war broke out between India and China. Grunfeld documents a CIA study from this period with detailed information on how Tibet's unique weather might affect the use of aerial, chemical and biological warfare.

Meanwhile, the top Tibetan clergy rented tens of thousands of Tibetan refugees to the Indian government to build military roads in northern India for the coming war against the Chinese revolution (see the accompanying article for a description of these forced labor camps). When war broke out between India and revolutionary China in 1962, India's forces were quickly defeated by the People's Liberation Army.

While the Tibetan exiles were helping India attack China, powerful revolutionary forces inside India were taking inspiration from the Maoist revolution. Internationalist Indian revolutionaries took the side of China. Soon, revolutionary communists led by Charu Mazumdar formed a new Maoist vanguard party in India and in 1967 started a great armed struggle among the peasants of Naxalbari--in the same Darjeeling district where so many Tibetan feudals had entered India.

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Part Four

Raids and Spying from the Tibetan Contra Bases

The Tibetan contra border raids continued through the '60s. The CIA money that Gyalo Thondup received for these operations increased. The CIA hoped these Tibetan contras could maintain networks of agents, conduct sabotage, and generally harass the revolutionary forces.

But, overall, this whole Tibetan contra operation was a failure. As the revolution deepened in Tibet, the border was more and more successfully sealed. Revolutionary militias of the People's Communes--made up of former Tibetan serfs--joined the People's Liberation Army in hunting down and killing these hated feudal saboteurs and spies. Meanwhile, the people in Nepal increasingly demanded that these armed camps be removed.

In the last known raid in 1969, a Tibetan contra raiding party was completely wiped out by revolutionary forces. By the early 1970s, the U.S. ruling class was tied down in Vietnam and was preparing to open relations with the People's Republic of China. A corrupt, ineffectual, armed Tibetan contra movement no longer suited U.S. imperialist plans. The CIA simply cut the Tibetan contras loose.

This was a pattern of use-and-discard familiar to reactionaries among the Kurds of Iran, the Hmong hill tribesmen of Indochina, the Misquito Indians of eastern Nicaragua, and the Islamic fundamentalist forces who fought in Afghanistan.

In 1975 the Dalai Lama ordered the remnants of the contra forces in Nepal to lay down their arms. The Tibetan feudals were militarily and politically defeated inside Tibet. When CIA funding dried up, the Tibetan contras simply had no basis for continuing their guerrilla war from exile.

For documentation and more detail on the CIA involvement with the Dalai Lama's contra movement, see A. Tom Grunfeld's book The Making of Modern Tibet.

Revolutionary Worker #765, July 17, 1994

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the terrorist and the terrorist


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The CIA's Secret War in Tibet
Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison
April 2002
320 pages, 24 photographs, 9 maps, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4
Modern War Studies
Cloth ISBN 978-0-7006-1159-1, $34.95

Defiance against Chinese oppression has been a defining characteristic of Tibetan life for more than four decades, symbolized most visibly by the much revered Dalai Lama. But the story of Tibetan resistance weaves a far richer tapestry than anyone might have imagined.

Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison reveal how America's Central Intelligence Agency encouraged Tibet's revolt against China--and eventually came to control its fledgling resistance movement. They provide the first comprehensive, as well as most compelling account of this little known agency enterprise.

The CIA's Secret War in Tibet takes readers from training camps in the Colorado Rockies to the scene of clandestine operations in the Himalayas, chronicling the agency's help in securing the Dalai Lama's safe passage to India and subsequent initiation of one of the most remote covert campaigns of the Cold War. Conboy and Morrison provide previously unreported details about secret missions undertaken in extraordinarily harsh conditions. Their book greatly expands on previous memoirs by CIA officials by putting virtually every major agency participant on record with details of clandestine operations. It also calls as witnesses the people who managed and fought in the program--including Tibetan and Nepalese agents, Indian intelligence officers, and even mission aircrews.

Conboy and Morrison take pains to tell the story from all perspectives, particularly that of the former Tibetan guerrillas, many of whom have gone on record here for the first time.
The authors also tell how Tibet led America and India to become secret partners over the course
of several presidential administrations and cite dozens of Indian and Tibetan intelligence documents directly related to these covert operations.

As the movement for Tibetan liberation continues to attract international support, Tibet's status remains a contentious issue in both Washington and Beijing. This book takes readers inside a covert war fought with Tibetan blood and U.S. sponsorship and allows us to better understand the true nature of that controversy.

"The inside story of one of the CIA's most tragic covert operations. Agency officers in the Wild East; nationalist, religious, and ethnic conflict--this is the stuff of a great yarn, which the authors tell in engaging detail."--John Prados, author of Presidents' Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations from World War II Through the Persian Gulf

"A masterful account of how the CIA sought to play the 'new great game' on the roof of the world."--David F. Rudgers, author of Creating the Secret State: Origins of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1943–1947

"An excellent and impressive study of a major CIA covert operation during the Cold War."--William M. Leary, author of Perilous Missions: Civil Air Transport and CIA Covert Operations in Asia

KENNETH CONBOY is a former policy analyst and deputy director at the Heritage Foundation whose other books include Spies and Commandos:How America Lost the Secret War in North Vietnam and Spies in the Himalayas: Secret Missions and Perilous Climbs.

The late JAMES MORRISON was a thirty-year Army veteran and the last training officer for the CIA-sponsored Unity project. He coauthored numerous books with Conboy, including Shadow War: The CIA's Secret War in Laos.
CIA in Tibet.jpg

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It would be amazing that in this period mid-50's to 1975 some 15 years the DL had no knowledge of this.

We are aware that his brothers were involved and we are aware that the DL holds the purse strings.

But he didn't know, well, he has stated that he didn't.

Was the Nobel Peace Prize for being peaceful post1975 after the assistance dried up.  

A different matter maybe.

Oh, well, it does put him in the same company as Yasser Arafat.

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