So apparently, Russian athletes will be banned from competing in the Olympic games in Rio this year, because the Russians have been using a state-sponsored doping program to give themselves an unfair advantage. The New York Times reports individual athletes will have to prove their innocence to the individual sports federations before being allowed to compete, but apparently the Russian flag will fly in Rio after Russian president Putin whined that Russia was unfairly targeted, and that the international community was just out to get poor Russia due to politics.
Now, I’ll be honest here. I haven’t given a shit about the Olympics since I was a kid. Too many commercials, too much extraneous crap, and given the bribery scandals that mar the selection of sites for the Olympic games, too much corruption within the International Olympic Committee, which I don’t want to support with my viewership. Screw that.
But I did want to briefly discuss what I find interesting.
Russia is once again being typical Russia, and it takes me back to the days of the old USSR.
The current resurgent Russia is an aggressive, cunning power that works to build up nationalist sentiment by annexing Crimea, for instance, threatening its neighbors, publicly building up and spending billions on modernizing and building up its military, and implementing a countrywide doping program to ensure its athletes dominate the sporting world.
All for the glory of mother Russia.
Meanwhile, as part of its strategy – Russia is simultaneously playing victim.
Oh, poor Russia! It’s athletes were banned for political reasons!
Oh, poor Russia! Economic sanctions were imposed for political reasons – to keep poor Russia down – not because it illegally annexed part of another country, messed with its political process, and threatened its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Oh, poor Russia! NATO threatens it just by existing, so it has to threaten the Scandinavian countries if they dare even think about joining the alliance!
It’s what Russia is really good at – being the aggressor and then blaming everyone else for victimizing it.
I’ve mentioned several times that when it comes to Russia, everything old is new again.
Putin creating himself a nice little armed force that’s solely under his control – partly to project power to any who dare challenge him.
Putin ordering school history books to be rewritten to reflect Soviet history in a more favorable light.
Putin repatriating the body of Ivan Ilyin, who preached an almost pathological love of the Russian state, law and order, and nationalism.
Russia careening toward a new nationalism that’s creepily reminiscent of fascism.
History repeating itself?
It’s interesting to note, as I have previously, that Mitt Romney – for all his faults – called it as far as Russia being a resurgent threat. Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs both named Russia as an existential threat to the United States, both in its resurgent aggression due to its significant nuclear arsenal and asymmetrical warfare such as cyber, and it’s not just empty drama, given the threat of terrorism that constantly looms over the West.
So this latest Olympic drama, as uninteresting as it is to me on its face, is another puzzle piece that falls into place as to the future of Russia’s place in this world.
I’m not a conspiritard by any stretch, but a couple of things are interesting to note.
The primary season culminated with the Trump campaign ensuring that the GOP platform didn’t include weapons aid to Ukraine against continued Russian aggression, while Trump publicly threatened NATO with gutting the Article 5 collective security guarantee. (Let’s remember why NATO was created in the first place, eh?)
I don’t know about y’all, but to me, this all adds up to a major policy shift on the part of the GOP and its nominee that doesn’t bode well for our national security.
Your mileage may vary.