Ignoring repeated and unmistakable warnings, President Obama still intends to allow American athletes to walk intowhat can only be called the meat grinderof the 2014 Olympic Games. It's time to ask whether the U.S. President has lost his mind or, worse, is recklessly and willfully disregarding the safety of American citizens for personal political gain
Last week, the Putin regime attempted to stage the first round of test events for the Winter Olympic Games of 2014, which are to be held in the Russian city of Sochi. In the mountains outside the city, Jean-Claude Killy, President of the IOC, declared "I have to be fully satisfied with what I've seen."
Had Killy been a bit more attentive on those mountaintops, though, and glanced to the East some 200 miles, he might have glimpsed wisps of smoke curling overKabardino-Balkaria.
For even as Killy was speaking, one platoon of Caucasian separatists had forced a car full of five skiers from Moscow off the road and shot them all down, killing three. Simultaneously, at a nearby resort on Mt. Elbrus, another platoon detonated bombs that brought down an entire ski lift.
The message from the separatists to the world could not have been more clear: If you send your athletes to Sochi three years from now, the white Russians snows will be stained red with their blood. Don't do it. The Kremlin has admitted it can't protect tourists at Mt. Elbrus and warned them to stay away.
A short time earlier Doku Umarov, leader of the separatists in Chechnya, had brought his war home to Moscow itself. Suicide bombers struck the city's Domodedovo airport, to Moscow what La Guardia is to New York City, and Umarvwarned: "More attacks will follow, month by month, God willing, even week by week. 2011 has just started and I promise you that this year will be a year of blood and tears for you Russians. We will bomb and burn you in your cities, war will come to your homes, and do not blame us for these results. Blame Putin and his pack of dogs, who started the war in the Caucasus."
Chechnya itself is just a few hundred miles from Sochi. The rebel fighters see the Olympics staging as a direct provocation, and Russian officials have admitted that the rebels are targeting the games as a result. Russia, one of the most politically and socially corrupt countries on the planet and a land plagued by desperate poverty, can hardly stop them all.
The Chechens aren't the only ones aggrieved by Putin. Radio Liberty reports that "the Circassians, a Muslim Caucasian people now scattered around the globe, have been actively lobbying for the Winter Olympics to be moved to another site" because "the year 2014 coincides with the 150th anniversary of a Russian military campaign that wiped out 300,000 Circassians in and around Sochi." As such, they see Sochi as sacred ground and the government's festivities as a blasphemous insult.
The fact is, athletes from democratic countries should not be going to Sochi in 2014 even if there were no risk of violence. Take your pick from among the reasons: (a) Russia's wanton imperialist violence in Georgia; (b) Russia's profligate and corrupt destruction of the Sochi ecology or (c) its brutal disregard of local property rights while building the games; (d) the fact that Russia, with an average wage less than $3/hour and an average life expectancy outside the top 125 countries in the world can't afford the games; (e) Russia's relentless crackdown on democracy and civil society across the nation or (f) Russia's brutal violence, including many convictions for state-sponsored murder, kidnapping and torture throughout the Caucasus region.
But the risk of violence is now undeniable and overwhelming. Never before in sports history have world leaders so recklessly placed athletes in harm's way, forced them directly into the jaws of a horrific political struggle that has been raging for decades. The world looks to Obama for leadership, but finds none because of Obama's crass political goals.
Obama chooses to ignore the looming Sochi catastrophe, or is unable to heed it, because of his desperate struggle to collect propaganda he can use in his reelection bid. Months ago he settled on Russia, hoping he can claim victory in achieving a nuclear arms reduction treaty and in withdrawal of Russian support for Iran. Whether any ground has been gained on either front is an open question, but what cannot be denied is that regardless of such gains there has been a horrifying net loss in democracy and human rights and a terrifying gamble with human lives in Sochi.
If the games go forward with American athletes present, there can be no doubt that Obama will have blood, American blood, on his hands.
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