Friday, April 11, 2008

Olympic Politics

The Washington Note's Steve Clemons insists that Hillary Clinton's calls for President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games are "way wrong-headed." That, he states, would be "reckless when calling for the weight of the presidency to be used to punish another nation at an event which is drawing China into the blue chip end of the international order, into global institution building and stakeholding, and which is stroking China's national pride at a key point in its ascendancy as a self-realized important power."

But how do you work to get the Chinese government on the right side of "global institution building and stakeholding" if you don't take any action that puts a spotlight on their actions?

It's not like people are being irrational and suggesting getting all Hulk-smashy toward the nation of China (okay, okay, the neocons were prior to 9/11). Nor is anyone suggesting keeping our athletes at home or not participating in the Olympics at all... but rather a simple boycott of the opening ceremonies to make clear that the world will not turn a blind eye to their abuses. What's being suggested here is more Martin Luther King than Malcolm X, contrary to the horrors of Mr. Clemons. And you cannot find a better venue to take such a stand than an international institution like the Olympics.

We now know that Prime Minister Brown-- among other prominent leaders-- will be boycotting the opening ceremonies. Is he "reckless" and "wrong-headed"? Hardly. And I am happy here to agree with Sen. Clinton that we should join him.

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