Let’s try to imagine how a diplomatic excommunication might work in your own life.
You told your neighbor that you would go to his house for his annual New Year’s Eve party. Then you find out that she runs a dog fighting ring or some similar heinous activity on her property.
You are so morally upset that leaving the party is not enough. You feel the need to go on a neighborhood group chat and announce that you have come to a difficult decision. After much research you have decided that no decent person should be seen to support such a person and his party. With that in mind, you will not participate this year. Instead, you will continue to garland your rosary by staying at home. You’re not going to call anyone else who would attend a party like this in less than a serpent’s belly, but it’s implied.
Also in unrelated news your kids may be going to the party. They’ve been looking forward to it all year long and you can’t bring yourself to disappoint them.
Yes, dog fighting can happen and other violence can happen while you are in the house. Maybe they can hear whispers coming from the garage. But you don’t want to be the monster who ruined everyone’s night out.
You have heard that there is going to be a raffle in the party. What if your kids won a bunch of stuff and brought it home? well what can you do? You can’t stop them from winning. As much as it hurts you, you will have to enjoy the loot with them.
In short, this party is wrong and you are against it.
This is not exactly what Washington did when announcing an ersatz boycott of the upcoming Beijing Olympics. It makes little sense from what it came with.
America’s long-standing half-hearted measure – a diplomatic boycott – was officially announced on Monday. It’s not much. That’s a more impressive sounding way of saying you’re decimating Olympic junkets. Now all the sad, second-rate poles from North Dakota and Maine won’t be sent privately to Beijing, so they can take a bunch of ego shots with Austin Matthews.
In the declaration, America’s reasoning for taking this action was cited by White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki in the context of World War II: “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity.” It is difficult to imagine more serious allegations.
Yet in the same remarks, Saki blew the executive air horn on behalf of her boss: “We’ll be behind [America’s Olympic athletes] When we encourage them 100 percent from home. We will not contribute to the pomp of the Games.”
that. What did you do there? That is pomp. Fanfare says it when you publicly root for athletes. To end the fanfare would mean saying nothing.
Fanfare is what it’s about, though not the usual kind. We are talking political fanfare – controlling and redirecting the game so that it falls on the right politicians.
This is a leadership that is looking for congratulations for doing the right thing, while they themselves clearly believe the wrong thing to do.
Take an earlier comment about the proposed boycott from Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez. He called it “an essential step to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to human rights in the face of the unintentional abuses of the Chinese government”.
I’m sure those who suffered those abuses can understand the difference between American athletes holding the Stars and Stripes on the Beijing podium, and American VIPs who will no longer raise it in the stands behind them. Perhaps “unbreakable” means something different in the district of Menendez.
You cannot be asked to take a stand unless it involves some kind of sacrifice. What has America left here? nothing. less than nothing. This move saves them airfares.
This is not moral leadership. This is anger quenching. Washington needs to be seen doing something, but nothing concrete enough to interfere with everyone’s fun time. As unable to boycott and unable not to boycott, America has chosen boycott which is not boycott. except it’s called This is an exclusion. cool trick.
Silly rebelling with language makes it possible for everyone to oppose China as the party host, while still enjoying the fanaticism that comes from participating in China’s party.
If the US did not say anything about the boycott and quietly ordered officials to stay home, its position would at least be logically consistent. This would have allowed them to give athletes, broadcasters, corporate sponsors and voters/fans what they want, without facing the implications of what it means. It won’t be very respectable, but it will at least make some sense.
Naming America’s semi-absence makes it appear as a hypocrite. What would you say about accusing someone of mass murder, congratulating yourself for your bold truth-telling, and then helping yourself to their hospitality?
Now we will see what America’s allies do and what China does in return. Beijing has already promised a “firm counterattack”.
Would it be possible for an Olympic host to pull out a few weeks before the start of the Games? This thought may not have occurred to me even a few weeks ago, but it seems like there are so many impossible scenarios possible now.
For those who are still seeding or bust, there is good news. Despite all the heated talk, we are still in a state of posture. No one has done anything yet to cast the Games in doubt.
For those who expected an ethical stand on this file, there is no news. Just this kind of nonsense was meant to obscure the fact that no one wants to take a position that can force them to tell kids they can’t go to the most grand and beloved circus in the world.