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As Dalai Lama Visits White House, an Excerpt of His 2003 Criticism of Iraq War

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As the Dalai Lama visits the White House, we air an excerpt of the his comments on the Iraq war in September 2003. Amy Goodman took part in a public dialog with the Dalai Lama and asked him for his views on the then-six-month-old invasion. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: In 2003, I had the rare opportunity to participate in a dialog with the Dalai Lama here in New York. I asked the Dalai Lama about his views on the war in Iraq. This was a part of his response.

    DALAI LAMA: [translated] One of the most unfortunate facts of today’s world, even to this day, is that still there are some vestiges of old way of dealing with the world, which is to use the threat of force, and including military force, in dealing on the level of international relations.

    [in English] That is very unfortunate. Very often I have share with people, with audience, like America, as far as domestic policy is concerned, generally speaking, you are very much cherishing democracy. But in the field of international relations, that democratic principle is not there, still relying on show of force. And that’s backward. But at the same time, you can’t blame America, the whole. I think the — some kind of using force by dictatorship, authoritarian, or democratically elected government, at least they use force by elected democratic government is much better. We suffer a lot under undemocratic authoritarian system.

    It is unfair to blame everything on Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein, without his powerful army, he can’t be dictatorship, dictator. Without military sort of sophisticated weapons, it’s impossible to build a powerful army. So, these weapons not produced in Iraq itself, but come from West.

    And one time, when the Lebanon civil war was going on, I met one French lady. She told me, one city, in one city, one side, people, innocent people, killing. One side, some business making business selling weapons, bullets. So the things are that if you truly sort of analyze how develop this one dictatorship, many, many causes, conditions, including Western nations’ own contribution. So that’s my view.

    Now, since this is such sort of complex, it is easy to eliminate one person or a small group of people. But unless very sort of [inaudible], unless carry that kind of [inaudible], realistically, without emotion, possibly more compassionate, more wisdom, eliminate ten people, it creates hundred people. Hundred people eliminate thousand people. This will go.

    So the real method, personal contact, person to person, face to face. Talk. At that time, I also expressed that bin Laden also have a lot of reasons to complain. Listen his view. What is his complaint? And death — terrorism is sort of mutual suffering. They also suffer. So, therefore, meet, listen, talk, and try to find a way to solve what’s causing their complaint. That’s the proper way. That’s the human way.

AMY GOODMAN: The Dalai Lama speaking in New York at Town Hall in 2003.

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