The U.S. government's involvement in Tibetan affairs began over a half-century ago with a series of commitments—both overt and covert—to support the Tibetans in their resistance to the Chinese occupation of their country. The motivation for undertaking these commitments and the scorecard on their fulfillment are mixed. When the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency abandoned any further efforts in Tibet in the mid-1970s, the Congress and private organizations took over the sponsorship of the Tibetan cause, helping to generate a worldwide movement. With this support and under the direction of Tibet's charismatic leader, the Dalai Lama, the status of Tibet became an internationally recognized human-rights issue and thereby survived the Cold War in which it was spawned.

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