As far as the ceremonies are concerned, I thought they were creative, beautiful, and innovative. Their new technology provided pictorial dimensions that filled the parameters of the entire stadium. Their artistic creativity in dance, color, choreography and story telling consumed the dark shadows of their political struggles and dictatorial history of the past. It illuminated their visions of a bright and better democratic tomorrow. It was a Russian statement of common civilian pride and a sign of political willingness to negotiate and join the world effort toward prosperity, peace and human rights. Yes, even human rights.
Maybe the RGJ is still living in the dark age of the Cold War between the two countries. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter, a democrat, boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow. His rationale was to punish the Soviet Union for its invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 supporting the Afghan government’s struggle against terrorist groups from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Islamic Republic of Iran the Taliban al-Qaeda and Shia militants. The Soviets employed over 115,000 soldiers in the nine-year battle. Over 14,000 Soviet troops were killed. More than 18,000 Afghans were killed in their battle against terrorists. At least 75,000 rebels were killed including 300 from Pakistan.
Carter’s decision to boycott the Olympics is a prime example of failed American foreign policy. After the 9/11 attack in 2001, President, George W. Bush, a republican, demanded the Taliban government of Afghanistan extradite Osama bin Laden to the U.S. for his role in the bombing. Afghanistan refused, saying we could not provide proof of his involvement. And they were right. In 2001, Bush announced the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom and the endless war in Afghanistan. If Carter would have kept our nose out of the Olympics and Supported the Soviet Union’s protection of Afghanistan sovereignty against terrorists, the Eastern World would be different today. And let’s be reminded, 14 million Russian servicemen are listed dead and missing when they joined the Europeans and Americans fighting against the dictatorship and genocide of Adolph Hitler.
Do I agree with Russian policies on human rights and internal policies? No! But I don’t have to. Russia is a proud country with a commitment to provide a better life for its people. They may be 10 years behind us in their social evolution; but they will get there.
The Olympics is an arena for a sporting event not a political theatre of political ideals. The RGJ and Gannett should accent the positive of sports and eliminate the negative of politics.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist.