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The Train to Lhasa, TIBET: Engineering Destruction

August 15, 2008

Patrick J Mahoney
a reprint of article in WIRED Magazine
August 8, 2007  (Updated: February 21, 2008)

In the July 2006 issue of WIRED magazine, there was a featured
article on the new train/railway to Lhasa Tibet.  The train is an
engineering marvel, being built on semi-frozen ground, and running at
an altitude of over 14,000 ft above sea level (the low point of the
Tibetan Plateau, which lies indeed "At the top of the World,"
requiring readably accessible oxygen to all passengers, and costing
billions to build.  The railway has been under construction since
Chairman Mao was in charge in the 1960's.  But the current Govt. in
China pushed for its completion so it would be ready for the 2008
Olympics.  This was done for image, and control.  With the railway,
much could be shipped into Lhasa; where before, the city was still
very inaccessible.  Combustion engines don't work so well at low
oxygen levels, and the dirt roads in Tibet are constantly washed out
and destroyed.  So building concrete monstrosities in Lhasa, &
bringing in equipment and people, has always been
difficult.  Purposely so.  That is why it remained untouched for so
many centuries.

That all was set to change, with the advent of the new
railway.  WIRED Magazine sent someone to cover the story, and he
wrote a glowing article about the train.  He had been sadly
misinformed, and led along to deliver the propaganda message the
Chinese Govt wanted the world to hear; illustrating the power of a
coordinated approach to information management.  As a result, his
article praised the very harbinger of Lhasa's destruction.

Lhasa is the spiritual center of Tibet.  Lhasa is home to the Potola
Palace, the winter residence  of the Dalai Lamas and reliquary to
their remains. Lhasa is home to the most mystically & spiritually
powerful temple in the world, the Jokhang Temple.   Lhasa is the
Buddhist equivalent of the Vatican in Rome to Catholics, Mecca to
Muslims, and Israel to the Jewish peoples.

So, I wrote an article countering the unintentional misrepresentation
of facts.  To their credit, WIRED recognized the error, and published
my response; doing a great job of capturing the essence of my
article, without all the words (The editorial staff told me I need to
edit my writing down a bit; can you imagine?

Here is my complete response to that article, it was published (in
abbreviated form) in the Sept 2006 issue of WIRED Magazine.

This is a great example of crafty propaganda at work.  Smart people
are often tricked by a communist controlled information
engine.  Don't let yourself be, work towards Freeing Tibet.  Boycott
all Chinese imports.

Below Is my complete article,  in response to Wired Mag. Article In
July 2006 Issue, published in part in the September 2006 Issue of
Wired Magazine:

"In my dreams, I see trains running off the tracks," Mr. Ziwang is
quoted in your Train to Tibet article.

Not sure I could have said it better; although, it wouldn't be a
nightmare to me, rather a hopeful dream. Aside from the fact that
people could be hurt when this happened, I can't think of a better
outcome for the 'Lhassa Express' end up in a pile beneath
some collapsed bridge.....the sooner, the better.

It was with amazed shock that I read the well crafted piece of
propaganda written about the Tibet Railway.  At the risk of sounding
like a tree-hugger or new-age spiritualist flake; then summarily
dismissed as such, and thereby discounted as someone who isn't worth
considering (whose opinions can therefore be summarily considered
'fringe' and therefore unfounded twattle), I will give you my
informed objective 'opinion' of Mr. Wolmans's article.  After 8 years
at Georgia Tech, 5 at Kruppe,  and having worked with engineers most
of my life  (even having two sons studying to be engineers, one at
West Point!)  I am still amazed when the thrill of an engineering
accomplishment is perceived as an marvel regardless of the human and
environmental costs.

The Chinese always do their homework, and in picking a self described
'train-iac' who clearly "declare(s) my(his) unbridled love for
trains," they picked well their pawn for this gambit.  If the Chinese
government didn't want Mr. Woman to ride their train, he never would
have even seen it.  World experts in the word they defined, sedition;
they must've enjoyed the juvenile intrigue of letting Mr. Wolman
think he got away with something in riding the train.  He did exactly
what was expected. He wrote a glowing article that edifies one of the
most damaging things to ever be made by man.

"This railroad could, and likely will, have negative effects on
traditional Tibetan(s) culture" Mr. Wolman says.  Yeah, it
will....leveling a deadly blow on one of the last untouched areas of
this planet....and for what? To: "bring desperately needed economic
development - especially tourism - to the hinterlands."  Tibetans
don't want or need 'development' that will destroy the natural
environment, or bring in another  6 million Han Chinese for cultural
absorption.  The railroad was so important to Mao because it would
deliver one of the final nails in the coffin of an entire race &
culture....."Religion is Poison" is one of his best quotes on Tibetan Buddhism.

"The sight of these stretches of raised railway in the otherwise
untouched vastness of the plateau is surreal,"  because it isn't
meant to be there!!!.....duh!  What happened to the native Indian
culture and the buffalo herds when the trans-Atlantic railroad went
through the plains?  Have we learned nothing from that?

The half truths presented in this article are almost too numerous to
address, but I will highlight a few:

1) The Potala Palace isn't a curious fixture of Lhassa....or
simply:  "once home to the exiled Dalai Lama," it was built by a
succession of 14 Dalai their summer home and reliquary.
That, and the Jokhang temple, are the reasons the spiritual center of
Lhasa even exists. Think of Rome, Mecca, and Jerusalem; and then add
Lhasa to that list. Then, think how you'd feel if someone built
numerous whorehouses across the street from the Vatican and named LSD
"Mohammed's home brew." (hint: The Chinese govt-sponsored whorehouses
adjacent to the Potala, and 'Lhasa beer;' both intended insults). The
ruling line of Dalai Lamas was officially  installed by Genghis
Khan's Son to provide a lamplight of spiritualism and order, in a
remote enough place to insure its safety and perpetuation.  This
train is not a necessary transport for millions of urban New York or
Parisian commuters to save fuel and make a city efficient; its a
railroad that will create hell on earth for destroying
the last real environmental/natural and spiritual treasure on the planet.

2) Its interesting that "Mao confided" in King Birendra of Nepal in
1973 that he was sleepless over the Lhasa train.  In 2001 the Chinese
government 'confided' to Birendra that he'd better allow a 'tourist
highway' (also capable of handling tanks into India) down the middle
of the Annapurna mountain range....through a beautiful mountain
nature preserve ....."or else."  Birendra ran them out of his palace,
and was brutally murdered.....along with most of his family....weeks
later.  Those of us there at the time know the real details of that
failed coup, which the Chinese Govt. keeps trying to accomplish to this day.

3) Non-development is the only way for the Tibetan peoples to
survive  the 'cultural cleansing' the Chinese Govt. has
attempted.  Isolation is their only remaining defense, and has been
the thing that makes a visit to Lhasa special.  Did they Chinese
govt. also tell Mr. Wolman how they are destroying a mountain to
provide road access to Everest base camp for the Olympics?  This is
all part of a bigger plan to present a harmonious "Tibetland"..... a
Disney-esque view of 'resistance is futile, you will be
assimilated'..... during the Olympics.  Meanwhile, the Chinese Govt
is doing to the Tibetans what Hitler wanted to do to the Jews, &
using the Olympics as propaganda.  The difference?  We know better,
but are allowing it happen....due to having our hands in Chinese
pockets, and visa versa.....its about money.  Some places need to
remain remote and less accessible in order to avoid harmful
'development.' Ask the National Park service.

I was intrigued by Mr. Wolman's vision of a Tibetan man where:  "I
imagine our eyes meeting, and him thinking: 'What the hell are you
doing here?'"  In this case, the article was accurate...implying the
harbinger's of the destruction.  You've fulfilled your role quite
well.  Weather Mr. Wolman 'got it' or not isn't the issue; WIRED
editors should have, and if they did and went on with the article
anyway, then they are culpable for the demise of a race. By acting
like one dimensional hormone driven young men.... glorifying
engineering 'accomplishments' due to their intrinsically fascinating
nature; WIRED forgets the real question: "why do it?"  Any
accomplishment of man, science, engineering, needs to be evaluated
first on its contribution.....or worse, incredibly destructive
consequences.... before doing it.  If its 'accomplishment'  means a
diminishment of humanity, or the irreversible destruction of our
natural home then why would a truly thinking species even do it?  If
ignorant people want to do destructive things, then its our
responsibility to "just say no," like so many companies did on
building that train line (A big point missed, BTW. The consortium
identified was hard to forge, many declined and many protested)

Additionally, in the article preceding the "T" word train article,
WIRED describes how Mr. Brilliant plans to spend $1billion on world
changing projects.  Good news, yet Google has agreed to allow the
Chinese government to censor their search engine results to exclude
the  word Tibet, so that Chinese people won't even know that it ever
existed.....among other 'seditious topics' requiring censorship.   If
Americans want to ever re-establish our society's stated values of
freedom of speech, real democracy, and honor/integrity; everyone has
to start 'walking the talk,' and stop acting as tools and pawns of an
infinitely more patient, long-term oriented, and highly deceptive
culture as the Chinese. "Don't be evil," implies don't do evil....or
support those who do.  Once the Chinese  get a firm grip on our
cultures use of marketing and 'spin control'.....which organizations
like WIRED are giving them by default.....then we too are
doomed.  Because no one can beat the Chinese culture on pragmatism;
and their use of societal control through consumerism will trump
anyone on the planet.  There are no Judeo-Christian values, nor will
there be any Tibetan Buddhist's principles of compassion left, to
impede their full deployment.

There is one thing Mr. Wolman communicated effectively.....something
which is very hard for Westerners to even conceive...its when the:
"state security officials knock on someone's door, or make a few
quiet phone calls that lead to the loss of a job, or worse."  The
next step he neglects to mention is arrest as a political prisoner
for "sedition."  Then, if the person is physically desirable, they
might even get selected for 'donation' to the next exhibit of
"Bodies!" Mr. Ziwang better hope they don't need a 70 year old
example of musculature.

This is the reality of China.  This is the 'reality' that we support
and promote when we 'buy Chinese,' and thereby are financial
accomplices to genocide.  Ignorance can be a defense at first; but
continually  selling out to low-cost Chinese imports for the purposes
of attaining wealth or control, constitutes complicity.   As does
glorifying 'accomplishments' that come at horrendous human and
environmental the average Chinese person, as much as the
Tibetans.  This is the thing we must be clear on, or we will suffer
the same fate we so blithely assume the Tibetan people's 'must
endure' for 'progress' and a shiny, sexy, new train.  Remember, even
still the Dalai Lama would forgive  all; and then provide instruction
if we are open to listening.  His 'mission' is  to help eliminate
ignorance, and thereby lessen the pain that is generated from anger,
mistakes, and greed......helping people break the cycle that only
begets more suffering.  He would say  that we do these things because
we make little attempt to manage our egos, or unhealthy
desires.....causing great harm as a consequence.  The entire Tibetan
question is a world wide lesson in karma that won't be pretty, if
allowed to occur.  For what goes around, really does come
around....eventually.  We abandon the Tibetan people, and
their  world, at our own risk.

I doubt very much that you will print this, even if you take the time
to read it or consider the ramifications.  I was told today, as I
read and responded to your article on the fourth of July, that I was
"wasting my time."  Maybe so.  Maybe not. And then just maybe, there
is hope for something other than trite, sound-byte delimited, 'news
to amuse.'  These are the principles that our founding fathers and
immigrant fore-fathers suffered and died for; why now do we treat
them so lightly?  Do people forget that quickly?


Patrick J Mahoney
Author of  "Tibet: Lamplight Unto a Darkened World"

Part I "Kathmandu Karma"
Part II "Messengers of the Gods"

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