As I wrote elsewhere, I have a profound respect for the Chinese people and their wonderful and rich culture... but their government sucks.
I don't want to politicize the Olympics... but by killing and arresting hundreds of protesters, the Chinese government has done a great job of doing that themselves. They knew there would be protests, and had the chance to show the world that they could respond to them in a civilized manner, but instead we've seen far more violence, repression, and blood spilled in the run-up to these games than before any prior Olympic Games... including Berlin, 1936.
Let's face it... if Joseph Goebbels were around today, he'd probably be calling the Chinese government a bunch of primitive, thuggish amateurs. And he'd be right.
Next target on the world tour for the day... the Russian government, who invite no end of serious clusterfuckery by invading Georgia, theoretically in support of a bunch of Russian-propped-up seperatists, conveniently led in large part by former Russian apparatchik types. For Russia, this is about preventing Georgia from cracking down on their undeclared proxy war on that state, and also about trying to monopolize the distribution channels for oil throughout the region. Georgia is home to a pipeline that, under ordinary conditions, supplies 10% of Europe's oil, and is the only option besides either the old Russian dominated infrastructure or the Iranian distribution infrastructure.
This, frankly, is a *REAL* threat to the U.S., its allies, and to every former Soviet state and former member of the Eastern Bloc... to everyone that has reason to fear the resurgence of an economically dominant, increasingly totalitarian, nationalist Russian government. It's also a threat to every pro-Western, pro-modernization Russian, because the rise of Russian militarism would inevitably lead to a curtailing of their freedoms.
Yes, I know that there are probably some Russian LJers out there who would argue that Russia has a right to defend people in Georgia, many of whom have Russian passports, etc... but when it comes to international law, Russia has no more right to go into Georgia than the United States would have send its forces in to defend those in Chechnya.
And lastly, let's not forget the people who ultimately have let Russia invade Georgia, and who are letting China get away with killing Tibetan protesters and treating Americans citizens and athletes with disdain and disrespect.... the government of the United States.
The Bush administration has done a great job of diverting our military from actual military missions, treating Al Qaeda like a problem that can be solved with ground troops, rather than something which is more effectively and cost-efficiently fought through a combination of global police initiatives, covert actions, and surgical strikes. As a result, a pro-Western democracy and NATO applicant is being threatened with conquest, while US and NATO forces are basically incapable of responding to the threat.
This, frankly, is not the kind of vote of confidence you would want if you were any other former Soviet or Eastern Bloc nation applying to NATO. It sends exactly the wrong message about NATO's willingness to stand up for its members. Rather, it paints NATO at one that is weak to defend its own, while being misused to clean up the messes left by US military adventurism.
We -- both the US and the rest of NATO -- should be defending Georgia's soveriegnity. We should have a fleet enroute to the Black Sea to safeguard international shipping, and we should be moving NATO troops towards Georgia, insisting on an immediate pulling back and end to conflict from both sides. We should also look into seeing whether NATO should, at Georgia's request, guarantee the safety of Georgia's airspace and territorial waters as of some established time in the near future, making it clear that their national soveriegnity will be protected by NATO as of X date.
Is this potentially dangerous? Sure. But so is the idea of setting a precident which allows Russia the right to invade former Soviet republics. This kind of conflict is *EXACTLY* the kind that our military was created for, and it is the type which it is best designed to win.
Instead, the US, by engaging in preemptive war, has no standing, either morally, politically, economically, or militarily, to prevent other nations from launching preemptive wars themselves.
In truth, this upcoming election should be about one key thing -- the complete rejection of the doctrine of preemptive wars. Nothing else matters as much, because once that Pandora's box is open, it's hard to close it again.
As for the Chinese situation, I think it's safe to say that had representatives of the Chinese government sent a U.S. citizen falling potentially to their death, combined with banning our athletes from the Olympics, and killing Tibetans... well, that is one of those things that would've been called a "major international incident" a decade ago... but today, it's widely ignored by both our government and by the media, because nobody wants to rock the boat with the country that is keeping our debt afloat.
And why do we have that huge debt? The Bush administration. Tax cuts to the rich. The wars.
So, in what sense didn't we, as a country, bring this mess upon ourselves?!