Hillary Clinton’s Call to Boycott Olympic Ceremonies is Way Wrong-Headed

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Hillary Clinton is making a wrong-headed play in her call to President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games.
After the collision of an American EP-3 spy plane and a Chinese jet fighter in April 2001, neoconservative high priest Richard Perle advocated preempting China’s bid to host the 2008 Olympics. He felt that keeping China from being able to enjoy the prestige of hosting the Olympic games was the best way to punish China for the transgression of harassing an American military plane that may have been in its air space.
On CNN’s Crossfire, I debated Perle on this issue and suggested that the approach he advocated was ultimately harmful to American interests and would seriously harm our ability to generate a broad array of contacts with China in different spheres through which we could hopefully constructively influence and encourage what Robert Zoellick coined a “responsible stakeholder” track.


In recent months, Fred Hiatt, editor of the Editorial Pages of the Washington Post, advocated boycotting the Olympics because China was failing to use its influence on Burma’s military junta. Others have advocated keeping U.S. athletes at home because China continues to deal with the Government of Sudan and has done little to advocate for relief in Darfur. James Fallows and I both countered Hiatt on this.
And now Hillary Clinton has called for President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the games in Beijing in response as a rebuke for not stopping the violent clashes in Tibet and not using its leverage with Sudan to stop genocide in Darfur.
This stance by Hillary Clinton is as wrong-headed as her vote on the Kyl-Lieberman IRGC amendment calling for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to be classified as a terrorist organization and as nationally self-wounding as her vote on the 2002 Iraq War Resolution.
Hillary Clinton is not out of bounds in advocating for other nations to look into their souls and to call for adherence to basic human rights conventions. She is not wrong to speak about human rights in every speech she gives and to speak to advocates of liberalism and choice who have been incarcerated in China, in Egypt, in Burma, or wherever else there are political prisoners.
But she is out of bounds and reckless when calling for the weight of the presidency to be used to punish another nation at an event which is drawing China into the blue chip end of the international order, into global institution building and stakeholding, and which is stroking China’s national pride at a key point in its ascendancy as a self-realized important power.
Hillary Clinton’s call for boycotting the opening ceremonies is an example of a simple-minded, binary approach to US-China relations.
Apparently, she has been led to believe that if Bush is absent at the ceremonies that China will help us on Sudan or allow Tibet a track to political autonomy or independence. This is wrong and naive. China will do neither – and if anything, we will embarrass those in the China establishment who are advocates of deal-making with America and proponents of responsible global stakeholding, which has been the course we have seen China on.
There is no doubt that China’s positive role in the troubled Six Party Talks moved our affairs with North Korea forward – even though this process proves to have predictably unpredictable swings up and down. China also proffered some counsel to Iran behind the scenes in advocating release of several intellectuals that Iran had arrested last year as China was not eager to see a substantially tightened third round of economic sanctions out of the UN at that time, and China helped give Iran an important nudge when we needed it.
America and the world have a serious brewing problem with Iran and an ongoing challenge with North Korea. China has secured strategic footholds in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and is spreading its influence in the Caucuses. China is not a natural ally of Russia – in fact, quite the reverse – and yet bumbling American policy seems to be throwing them together in common circumstances in ways that should not be happening.
Hillary Clinton or any President needs to avoid the temptation to pander to the American public when crises with the key global powers emerge. They need to demonstrate an awareness of our core interests with China and what we most want from China in the arena of international affairs.
Nukes should be at the top of that list – and then there should be a cascading set of second and third and fourth and fifth priorities with a state like China. A new or revised economic arrangement with China would be second on my list – and then perhaps a serious commitment to climate change in third or fourth place. Human rights should be on the list — but make the pursuit of Chinese subscription to a higher human rights bar a serious effort characterized by consultations, encouragement, deal-making that involves incentives and yes, disincentives. But Clinton gave no sense of a fuller, serious game plan on the human rights front.
Which battles with China do we need to stalemate on, or delay, or even lose to achieve our primary national security and geopolitical objectives? And more importantly, what battles does China really need to win to be able to work with us?
But what we got from Hillary Clinton today was a shallow, binary, knee jerk impulse to withdraw the prestige of American attendance at an event that will not succeed in achieving the baseline objectives with Sudan or Tibet – and very well could raise China’s price for cooperating with us on other of the more important fronts in which we need them.
A call to boycott any aspect of the Olympics is part of the current of not wanting to deal or directly negotiate with other nations on the “bad countries” list. It is a silly and counterproductive impulse that Hillary Clinton should reconsider.
This kind of posturing makes America look incredibly immature — as if it has lost touch with the realities of statecraft and with its own important role as a global stabilizer.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

58 comments on “Hillary Clinton’s Call to Boycott Olympic Ceremonies is Way Wrong-Headed

  1. shasha says:

    hai hillary \
    i is your fans from indonesia
    can you go to back indonesia
    just to meet mee
    pleaseee????

    Reply

  2. naella says:

    I have downloaded this file free without registration at http://newfileengine.com/

    Reply

  3. zss says:

    blunt, i’m sure most american are friendly. but not like you–a dog shit. people only argue with humanbeing.no argument need with you.

    Reply

  4. blunt says:

    let your fallacious or illogical conclusion go to the hell!
    if you don’t agree with me,welcome your agrument.
    e-mail:316554652@qq.com

    Reply

  5. Songsheng Zhao says:

    I’m a Chinese. I’m so glad to see there are too many US people stand with the truth. Anytime, Any country, any people abhor the seperationist. Let’s see a peaceful and harmonious world!

    Reply

  6. Jun says:

    Hillary,
    I am so dissappointed on your comments about US president should boycot the Beijing Olympics open ceremony! I always supported you and wished you win, thinking you are wise and can be a role model to lead the nation. But now I see you say things simply to please people.
    Why the Olympics has anything to do with better “Human Rights”? When the tibetan rioters were burning shops and killing people, where were the “human rights” for the victims?
    When the protesters were doing every dirty tricks to grab the torch from the disabled athletes, who guarded for the pro-China and pro-Olympics protesters’ rights for a peaceful torch delivery and peaceful Olympics?
    You should stand for the truth. That’s what America needs a leader for. When people do not know the truth, you should help them to learn the truth and see the real world around them. Why you keep saying things people want to hear and use protectionist to shut the door from outside? When you are blaming Chinese govenment for their censorship, what’s the difference in your behavior?
    For people who don’t really know Tibet, even Dalai Lamar agrees it’s a part of China. So any separation activities are breaking the law and hurt stability of the society. Even President Lincoln will fight against the separationist.
    For anybody who visited Tibet 50 years ago and now, Tibet is much better under China’s ruling than Dalai Lamar’s ruling. 50 years ago, most tibetans are slaves, they work all day to sustain the monks and Lamar’s luxury life style without filling their own stomachs. Today everyone is equal. You can work for your own family and enjoy a better life. You can have religion if you want to. Chinese government keeps helping them to see a better world, while Lamar and other monks are missing their old luxury status.
    Please understand other countries more before pass on comments about other countries to mislead your people. When you can’t fully understand other countries, just shut up and care about the problems inside your own country first!!
    Jun

    Reply

  7. Liza says:

    Hillary isn’t president. I think her call for Bush to boycott the opening games was an appropriate move for a political leader of the ‘opposition’ party – ie, the one not in power in the executive branch.
    By the way we’ve seen the same “immature” tendencies (for a boycott) come out of the capitals of the UK, France, and Germany. You want to talk about bringing US policy back in line with the rest of the world, I don’t think hearing a call for a boycott come from one of our political leaders is a bad move.

    Reply

  8. LZ says:

    Posted by Cee Apr 10, 9:06AM – Link
    • Cee, to answer your question, I don’t know that much to be an authority on it, but I heard there were some bombings on buses in large cities several years back that really turned the Chinese public against the Uighur separatists(to the point where other ethnic groups sometimes won’t let Uighurs get on buses. I don’t know if it is true b/c I haven’t seen it but it is what I heard.) Look, violence or non-violence the separatists are not going to get their way based on culture, history, and the national circumstances. Neither the Uighur separatists nor the Chinese people are Canadians and there is no referendum either especially when American and NATO troops are next door in Afghanistan. Personally, I doubt the innocence of Uighurs in Gitmo. Whether it is the Chinese govn’t or the US gov’t, I think they are there to fight somebody, and it is ironic that the Americans got them and are the ones that held them for a long time without trial. It just shows that when it comes to national interests and security, all govn’ts are the same.

    Reply

  9. Chris Lowe says:

    Hilary’s call for a boycott is something that she would not have made if she were president at this point in time. She is obviously ONLY doing it to improve her chances in the race for the Democrat nomination.
    At first I had equal respect for her and Obama, but over recent months, my respect for Obama has grown while my respect for her has diminished. And this call for a boycott is the last nail in the coffin.
    Unfortunately this gesture will improve her support in the Democratic race, as many will not see it for the empty gesture that it is.

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  10. Jim Newell says:

    As someone from the North of Ireland I was hoping that Clinton would come through as the democrat with the greater global empathy. That has just evaporated as a result of her cheap attempt at cashing in on the quick “vote” – she is just a small time player from Arkansaw after all. Would she be happy for us to boycott all things American because of overly agressive actions in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    Reply

  11. ej says:

    I have to disagree with WN on this issue.
    Politics does not exist in a vacuum, and certainly human rights, just as for another example the ideals of the US constitution, must be taken into account whenever considering anything in this nation and in turn the planet – politically or otherwise.
    To not do so is to ultimately damm humanity to castrophic failure – not just for the United States but for all.
    Often, the so-called “inside the beltway” thinking only makes sense, on any level, within the narrow context found within that political culture – often at the exclusion or expense of the human culture. This is just another case in point.
    To not admit that the Olympics is a political (and commercial which also translate to political as in money equals power) event is either niave or disingeneious. To understand that politics is more than statesmanship, self-interest, and national agreements would be helpful – it is also human beings and their lives and qulity of life not just in economic terms.
    A new world view is imperative if we as a race (the human) are to survive as evidenced by the fiasco in Iraq to mention just one obvious example and I think this applies to the Olympics as well.
    I believe the correct response to the modern day Olympics, in terms of humanity, is that they should be disbanded and no one participate until there are no huamn rights violations on this planet. If that’s not possible than so be it – just don’t have the Olympics.
    It should be an outrage and a shame for all of us that human rights violations exist and until we eradicate it we should not have false and meaningless celebrations of humanity like the Olympics in order to continue the old way of thinking that in part helps to create a world where human rights violations exist.

    Reply

  12. Cee says:

    LZ,
    What do you think about the Chinese claim that they arrested people planning terrorism?
    I recall that the US wrongly held some Uighur prisoners in Gitmo.
    MeToo,
    Keep up. Obama spoke up about China and Tibet last month. I didn’t agree with him then either.

    Reply

  13. MeTooHillary!! says:

    ROFL!!!
    Obama says “me too, Hillary” on boycotting the Olympics. Oh yeah, he’s a real leader!
    Obama is the weakest Democratic candidate in at least 40 years. When is the spell going to break so that people see?

    Reply

  14. LZ says:

    As a Chinese American, this is the first article from the entire Western media in the last few weeks that I can say is fairly level headed, knowledgeable and well thought of. I have been reading the Chinese net blogs also and the amount of collective anger by the entire Chinese nation is undescrible. Screaming boycott repeatedly and very publicly has been the easiest way to alienate an entire people whose culture is shame based and losing face is everything. It is the most counter productive thing a person can do to a Chinese person is to shame him so that he will dig in his heels and fight to the death over nothing. I think most people here don’t realize that it is the entire nation of China that they are putting down even though they are aiming for the government. The thing about Hillary is that, she knows it, but to distract the bad news with Penn, she somehow felt that she had to do it. I thought I was going to switch to Obama, but today he released a similar nuggut too, and I guess McCaine will soon follow. I guess it’s all just the part of the presidential politics. I hope they are not that stupid and will do things differently once they are elected. But then of course, whom am I kidding.

    Reply

  15. JohnH says:

    POA. Hate to say it, but you are right when you say, “We have entered into trade agreements with China that are essentially a sell-out of American jobs, industry, technology, and global standing.”
    It was BILL CLINTON who entered us into trade agreements… We had no say in the matter. Why doesn’t someone ask Hillary about Bill’s opening the flood gates to Chinese goods (and financing)? Of course, her answer would be, “if I knew then what I know now…”

    Reply

  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It seems the majority of you have missed the true folly of a boycott.
    We have entered into trade agreements with China that are essentially a sell-out of American jobs, industry, technology, and global standing. China is now producing about fifty percent of the world’s goods, and, undoubtedly, a higher percentage of goods sold here in the USA.
    So, doesn’t a boycott of the Olympics seem just a bit silly, and a pathetically tepid act of protest as well?
    What, we’re sure gonna show them, eh?
    We’ll sell ‘em the farm, we’ll eat the fruit, but we won’t abide their farming techniques?
    So what if some eight year old kid is soldering the wires for twelve hours a day on your fifteen year old’s RC toy car?
    So what if they are poisoning our homes with formaldahyde laden plywoods?
    So what if the american garment industry is EXTINCT.
    So what if Home Depot is selling us a bunch of SUBSTANDARD SHIT MADE IN CHINA, (substandard shit, I might add, that we are building our infrastructure and our homes out of).
    Unusable soft nails, lag bolts that can’t be tightened because the heads will snap off, warped and non-dimensioned poisonous plywood, screw heads with philips indents that will not take standard size bits…..the truth is I could literally spend HOURS listing the substandard and low quality construction goods that these piece of shit importers, Home Depot, Lowes, and Chinese manufacturers are foisting off on America, on a GRAND scale.
    And do you really believe these importers, and these manufacturers, and these retailers, are unaware of the fact that they are selling us SHIT?
    I have news for you, the Chinese are LAUGHING at us. And do you really believe they are going to laugh less if we boycott the Olympics…
    ….while we ship them our jobs, our technology, our manufacturing, and our economy?
    But hey, at least they would know where we stand on Tibet, eh?
    Welcome to Bushworld, where, apparently, Hillary Clinton lives.

    Reply

  17. Nancy Johnson says:

    Thank you, Steve Clemens!
    Hillary has proved her a simple-minded shallow and evil person by her call for Bush to boycott Olympic ceremonies. Does she care for world peace? Does she care for mankind? Does she care for democracy in China? No.

    Reply

  18. P.J. Crowley says:

    President Bush had indicated his intention of attending the opening ceremonies before the recent violence in Tibet. Now, beyond just words from the White House and State Department, does the President stick with existing plans or does he do more to communicate to China that this is not how great nations should act? A complete boycott would not work and would backfire. No one favors that. Hillary Clinton’s suggestion is very sophisticated – skip the opening ceremonies and send a strong message to China. Go to China later, root for U.S. athletes and seek a meeting with Hu Jinto and discuss the issue further. Do both. Send the clear signal and engage. But, since President Bush tends not to use such visits to use debate his counterparts (his disappointing Putin moments are cases in point), Hillary’s suggestion makes sense. If we are serious about promoting responsible government around the world, we cannot send a business as usual message to the Chinese.

    Reply

  19. bob h says:

    I was disappointed in Hillary’s call as well. The Tibet occupation and human rights abuse has been an ongoing thing; the time to have made objections was before the decision to award the Olympics was made.
    The suppression of the Tibet protests was not pretty, but did not rise to the level of the Burmese situation in viciousness and brutality.
    I hope China has a successful Olympics with Bush in attendance.

    Reply

  20. David says:

    I realize that being of two minds is often used disingenuously, but it can also be a legitimate, if overly cautious, response. But in this case I do think that easy e is on to something. And I certainly agree with those people who have observed that we are the pot calling the kettle black. To be intellectually and morally honest, we would have to condemn every state which uses its power to bully weaker states/provinces/whatever, with special emphasis on brutal suppression/military assaults/resource exploitation in which innocent civilians are the primary victims.
    And now the United States is utterly unable to take the moral high ground, and apparently American voters are more concerned with being either winners or losers in Iraq (in a quite superficial sense) than in any legitimate questions about the morality of what we are doing to Iraq, and I suspect the same is true of the Chinese. In that sense we are, sadly, mirror images of each other.

    Reply

  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hmmmm.
    Gee, if we boycott the Olympics, will we save any money? If so, thats more money we could send Israel to assist them in eradicating Muslims.
    It makes me damned proud to be the citizen of a nation that is such an advocate for human rights!!
    Go Hillary!!!!
    And if anybody dare protest this epic altruistic effort you are waging, just rendition their treasonous asses to Torturevania.

    Reply

  22. tomj says:

    I heard that if Bush were to attend the opening ceremony it would be the first time a US president did so. If this is true, then Clinton’s remark is even more suspect.

    Reply

  23. Jack Chen says:

    Please read this carefully. I implore all the good-hearted folks to understand the complexities of the situation.
    The problem with China is not about ethnic rivalries… The problem is that all races have been oppressed equally. But those in the West who assign their own racial frameworks only serve to alienate and subvert the 1.2 billion Han Chinese needed to bring more rights to everyone in “China”.
    For every Tibetan temple destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, another 100 Confucius/Daoist/Buddhist temple were destroyed. For every TIbetan jailed for “subversion”, there have been 1000 Han Chinese for the same activities. For every Tibetan persecuted for religion, another 10,000 Han Chinese suffer the same fate.
    But when you shout Free Tibet and “Down with China”, you are conveying an Anti-China sentiment that Chinese people recoil and react negatively, so deep is the sensitivities to the idea that “Foreigners Know Best”. This is not just Communist propaganda. It is the same overwhelming sentiment that led the the rise of the KMT to overthrow the Qing Dynasty, that led Chinese students to take to the streets on May 4, 1919.
    Too many kind-hearted folks in the West believe that things are black and white. I’d caution everyone to make such simplistic solutions, much the same way we believed Iraq was a cakewalk, and that the people would naturally unite once Saddam fell.
    What the Free-Tibet crowd don’t realize is that their actions have given the communist party popular legitimacy in China to reduce all the hard-won political/civil gains that activists have given their lives too.
    And please don’t be patronizing. The anti-foreign outrage in China is not an echo of brainwashed masses. They understand that their government is messed up. They understand that political freedoms should happen. The Chinese all want their one-party corruption to end…
    … but like all peoples around the world, they don’t want OTHERS lecturing them that they’re 1) brainwashed; and 2) not politically correct.
    Support Tibet, but how much do you care to know about Chen Guangcheng? Hu Jia? Wu Lihong? Ma Yenlin? The day Tibetans are given true freedoms is the day ALL people in China share the same freedoms.
    Shouting “Free Tibet” may make you feel better, but hurt even more 1.3 billion Chinese folks in the long run.
    After Iraq, we Americans should know better.

    Reply

  24. Henry says:

    Where does the U.S. get the moral standing to complain about China? The rest of the world ought to boycott, and we ought to go and, with China, call it the “War Criminals Olympics.”

    Reply

  25. easy e says:

    Entire Dem leadership is boneheaded, as demonstrated by Pelosi.
    http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/04/01/pelosi.olympics/index.html?eref=rss_topstories
    Dem leadership & candidates should have stayed single-minded focused on Bush foreign policy debacle (Iraq Occupation). Events in Tibet pale in comparison to the Iraq catastrophy.
    The GOP is strategically dictating national pre-Olympic, pre-Election discourse on Tibet. The spineless Dem leadership has again fallen prey to being out-foxed by the GOP marketing machine.
    With Tibet now in the crosshairs of both Left and the Right, be prepared to welcome President John McCain.

    Reply

  26. Dion says:

    she just lost my vote too. At the beginning ,i thought she might be like her husband to give whole American society economical enhancement. however, right now, I truly realize what she cares about is not the benefit of the society but her political purpose… feel sorry for her

    Reply

  27. Tahoe Editor says:

    Please, Dave. Bush, Obama and I’m guessing McCain are all “of two (waffling) minds” about this, but Hillary’s stand on skipping the opening ceremonies is somehow the “reckless” straw that breaks the camel’s back for you? I highly doubt she “just lost” your vote.

    Reply

  28. Dave says:

    I am a Chinese American and Hillary has just lost my vote. Not because she is morally wrong, but simply because she is reckless. Let’s not forget she also supported the Iraq War. Put two and two together I cannot trust her judgement anymore. This article articulates the author’s points really well.

    Reply

  29. global yokel says:

    The United States has no business lecturing the rest of the world on human rights. The present administration condoned torture, and arranged to export numerous people to rogue nations where they were tortured. So we have a recent track record of practicing torture, and outsourcing it when convenient. One of the worst things about the Bush administration’s decision to go down this road is that it has eliminated our ability to speak to other nations from a high moral plateau.

    Reply

  30. easy e says:

    Likewise CEE, thanks for the historic perspective on Tibet. Certainly confirms the notion that wrong-headed u.s foreign policy seems to be at the root of many of the world’s problems. Our wrong-headed politicians continue to wear blinders and the public remains uninformed. Sadly, this is no accident.
    “Truth is the greatest enemy of the State”
    - Joseph Goebbels
    “What good fortune for governments that the people do not think.”
    - Adolph Hitler
    “Those whom make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution invevitable.”
    - John F. Kennedy
    Just confirms the fact that Bush is not the only one without integrity. Bush, McCain, and the rest of the enablers damned near killed the constitution. Hillary will make sure to bury it.
    2008—End of an Error? Or, Beginning of a New Error?

    Reply

  31. ... says:

    CEE – thanks for your post on some of the history of tibet… i was unaware of much of that, but i am not surprised.. sad pattern that has been at work in usa foreign policy for a long time, that perhaps too few americans are aware of..

    Reply

  32. David T says:

    The Iraq War notwithstanding, campaigns are not the ideal time to dictate how we should deal with other countries — particularly relating to how we should punish or send them a message of disapproval. Thank you Steve for sharing your views on this one. I guess on foreign policy matters I am much more comfortable when candidates outline general approaches (I will work on … and won’t hesitate to …[open dialog with Syria, etc.]. However specific actions they or their predecessor should take should depend greatly on the circumstances each one is in, the style of their diplomacy, and how that action fits in with their overall strategy.
    Thanks again Steve.

    Reply

  33. Tahoe Editor says:

    Being “of two minds” is a stock answer you give when you don’t know what you think, you don’t know what to do and you’re unaware and wary of the unexpected reactions you’ll elicit, so it’s best to play it safe and not make a decision. And this is the guy who’s going to unite us and solve all our problems. Methinks he’ll spend a lot more time being “of two minds” while we wait for him to make decisions and get things done.

    Reply

  34. Bartolo says:

    I’m with Jack Cafferty of CNN who answered calls for a boycott by asking who are we to call a kettle black; we who have invaded and occupied a country, disregarded international treaties at will, voided our own Bill of Rights, tortured prisioners,…, well you get the picture.

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  35. wolf brueckmann says:

    Steve,
    Fully support your criticisms of this Hilary reaction. It re-confirms a Hilary Clinton pattern of pandering to the worst instincts of the American public, including in the area free trade, where I strongly oppose her pandering anti-trade comments. The Mark Penn incident brought this proclivity into high relief again.
    Best Wishes,
    Wolf

    Reply

  36. LB says:

    “It’s amazing to watch American politicians bloviate over Tibet, which by any standard is a terrible tragedy. The country has been occupied for 50 years. There are estimates of a million deaths. And the culture, society and economy have been pulverized.”
    Boycotting the Olympics will only steel Beijing’s resolve and the results will be devastating for Ethnic Tibetans in Lhasa and elsewhere. Beijing has long practiced an “I’ll show me!” style of governance.
    The real outcries right now should be for the Monks in the mainland provinces who are now being monitored by plainclothes police, against cameras in classrooms and sanctuaries,and in defense of peaceful sit-in demonstrators rounded up by armed police and military in Gansu and elsewhere.
    All you do is punish the athlete and further demonize China. Let the games begin and let the cameras roll while the people here enjoy unfettered access to the western Internet for the first time ever as a result of IOC intervention.

    Reply

  37. Tahoe Editor says:

    Hillary never said anything about keeping American athletes at home, and calling her “simple minded” is nothing more than simple minded.

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  38. sweeetback says:

    a clear headed argument.
    I agree with Kent, if we were to boycott olympics for every country with human rights abuses then yes we would have to hold it every year in Brussels!
    I also agree that the recent protests during the torch carrying through London and Paris is dong more to raise the issues of China’s domination of Tibet than if the event did not take place.

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  39. Cee says:

    Hope this doesn’t show up multiple times.
    Amen, Steve. Does Hillary want our dollar to just crash?
    If people learned more about the good Dahli Lama and his history of sacrificing his people with the CIA they might think differently about our recent interference.
    A little history:
    Communist China asserted it’s claim on Tibet in 1950, and for the first few years allowed the Lamas to maintain local control. According to Wikipedia, “Prior to Chinese rule, over 700,000 of Tibet’s population of 1.2 million were in serfdom” – working on lands owned by the lamas, under a feudal society of warlords and even slavery. This system continued for a few years after the Chinese takeover, ruled comfortably by the lamas – that is, until the Chinese instituted a policy of land reform and redistribution in accord with communist principles. Then things started to get hairy:
    In 1956 the Dalai Lama, fearing that the Chinese government would soon move on Lhasa, issued an appeal for gold and jewels to construct another throne for himself. This, he argued, would help rid Tibet of “bad omens’’. One hundred and twenty tons were collected. When the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, he was preceded by more than 60 tons of treasure.
    Makes the esteemed Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, sound slightly less spiritual, doesn’t it? (Here’s a fun photo of the young Dalai Lama feasting beside Mao Zedong)
    Anyway, the dam broke in 1959 with an unsuccessful “popular” uprising against the Chinese occupation. This came after several years of CIA-backed training and funding of Tibetan revolutionary forces.
    Starting in 1955 the CIA began to build a counter-revolutionary army in Tibet, much like the contras in Nicaragua and, more recently, the financing and training of the KLA in Kosovo.
    In the Aug. 16 Newsweek magazine, an article entitled “A secret war on the roof of the world–spooks, monks and the CIA’s covert gamble in Tibet” describes details of the CIA operation from 1957 to 1965.
    Similarly, a major article in the Jan. 25, 1997, Chicago Tribune described the special training of Tibetan mercenaries at Camp Hale in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado throughout the 1950s.
    These mercenaries were then parachuted into Tibet. According to the famous “Pentagon Papers,” there were at least 700 of these flights in the 1950s. Air Force C-130s were used, as later in Vietnam, to drop ammunition and submachine guns. There were also special bases in Guam and Okinawa for training Tibetan soldiers.

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  40. Mark Breecher says:

    A good piece which shows that the commentator has a better grasp than Mrs Clinton.
    It is not only surprising, but a little sad and opportunistic.
    America from afar could easily be accused of “intellectual” human rights abuses ie: the same result but smarter!
    Let us do this bottom up. The result is everything, and the only way to lord over anybody else in a fatherly and statesmanlike way is to fix the problems of the states, and show people the way.
    We talk a great game!

    Reply

  41. easy e says:

    At some point, the world should hear an appropriate response from China………
    “Tibet?!?…..That’s fair, but let’s take a closer look at the real history.”
    In the meantime, let’s also look at other pressing issues in our world that are negatively impacting all of humanity.
    Think genocide in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., etc.
    Not to mention Israel/Palestine—in both present-day and historical perspective.
    Or or Third World societies whose resources are being plundered to better the lives of the “West”.
    Tibet?!?
    Sounds like ulterior political motives trying to change the subject. Shame on Hillary and the hubris of the American poltical system, both left and right.
    American/Western “Empire” is certainly at a crossroad.

    Reply

  42. LB says:

    “It’s amazing to watch American politicians bloviate over Tibet, which by any standard is a terrible tragedy. The country has been occupied for 50 years. There are estimates of a million deaths. And the culture, society and economy have been pulverized.”
    Boycotting the Olympics will only steel Beijing’s resolve and the results will be devastating for Ethnic Tibetans in Lhasa and elsewhere. Beijing has long practiced an “I’ll show me!” style of governance.
    The real outcries right now should be for the Monks in the mainland provinces who are now being monitored by plainclothes police, against cameras in classrooms and sanctuaries,and in defense of peaceful sit-in demonstrators rounded up by armed police and military in Gansu and elsewhere.
    All you do is punish the athlete and further demonize China. Let the games begin and let the cameras roll while the people here enjoy unfettered access to the western Internet for the first time ever as a result of IOC intervention.

    Reply

  43. Kent says:

    Oh for God’s sake. This Boycott talk infuriates me.
    I was in high school in Eugene Oregon in 1980 when the last boycott happened and I actually knew two athletes from my HS who Olympic qualifiers. A boxer and a kayaker. They each wasted a year of their lives for nothing thanks to Carter’s statement.
    Bottom line is this. There is absolutely NOTHING going on in China today that was not known seven years ago when the Olympics were awarded to China. In many respects, China has improved since 2001. In any event, it’s not my intent to defend China. But to point out that the correct time to talk about this was 2001 not 2008. If we’re going to talk boycott every time the Olympics is awarded to a country with human rights issues then might as well just set up a permanent Olympic site in Sweden and be done with it.
    Otherwise what we are doing is asking a small handful of athletes to throw away their life dreams for a pointless political statement. When the rest of us will go on buying Chinese products every time we walk into Wal-Mart or Target.

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  44. Paul Norheim says:

    I said that boycott was a tool well suited to “comfort the
    consciousness of the boycotters, or to express anger while the
    cameras are on.”
    To be more precise: I have no right to criticize someone suffering
    abuses, say, in Tibet, and who then goes forward expressing their
    anger or desperation.
    The targets of my comment were the powerful media industry and
    political leaders supporting boycott as an act against a political
    enemy or supposed threat against their own national interests.
    Just to avoid misunderstandings on this crucial point.

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  45. Paul Norheim says:

    I agree completely with Steve Clemons this time.
    And I would certainly not vote for boycott next time the
    Olympic Games goes to a country known for abuses of human
    rights, torture, aggressive actions toward other countries or
    other kinds of behavior that I don`t admire – like,
    unfortunately, the USA. Despite the good intentions, boycott in
    areas like sports and travel/tourism mostly does not have the
    intended effect (although there are exceptions); it is rather a
    tool to comfort the consciousness of the boycotters, or to
    express anger while the cameras are on.
    Besides often being counter productive, boycott (of games,
    trade, travel) is a kind of political tool that contains the same
    logic as hijacking, terrorism and bomb attacks against big
    towns: it does not distinguish between the actual enemy and
    the civilian population within the area. It`s one of the diseases
    we have inherited from the 20. century that threatens the whole
    planet to become an entire field of civil wars.
    If someone uses nukes against an enemy (within or outside its
    borders) or commits genocide (domestically or abroad), I would
    vote for boycott too. But if you use boycott for any country with
    a bad leadership or policy, there would only be a handful of
    small, weak but wealthy countries that would pass the test.
    Nobody would benefit from that, and especially not the innocent
    or suffering population.

    Reply

  46. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oh heck, whats a little formaldahyde between friends, anyway? Just chase it down with a little melamine, and you’ll be none the worse for wear.
    Have I mentioned how good lead is for the soul?

    Reply

  47. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “After the collision of an American EP-3 spy plane and a Chinese jet fighter in April 2001….”
    Ah yes, the good ‘ol days when Bush considered “parading prisoners in front of the cameras” a serious violation of their rights in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
    Since then, however, Cheney, Rummie, Ashcroft and Yoo have taught him about the great interrogational value of sodomy, hanging from the wrists until dead, waterboarding, and being leashed to some leering sicko seeing how high she can stack a towering pile of naked Muslims.
    We’ve come a long way, baby.

    Reply

  48. David says:

    “Nukes should be at the top of that list – and then there should be a cascading set of second and third and fourth and fifth priorities with a state like China. A new or revised economic arrangement with China would be second on my list – and then perhaps a serious commitment to climate change in third or fourth place.”
    Nukes should always have been first, and they never should have been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They represent mankind’s ability to end all life on the planet quite quickly. But now climate change has moved alongside nukes. And the idiot war against Iraq has so sidetracked the United States from real issues of great magnitude, a war that was utterly uncalled for and (thank you, Stephen Hawking, for using the wc word) a war crime, that we are unable to focus on the real needs of humankind, especially humankind in a sustainable global ecosystem, choosing rather to add moronic conflicts with Venezuela, Ecuador, and Syria, to name three.
    We really are a ship helmed by fools.

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  49. stardust says:

    Steve, thanks again for making me think. Its so easy to get led
    down the garden path by the media and politicians because we
    don’t have the context you do. I am tired of the campaign and
    want either Clinton or Obama to win. Actually, I like Hillary a lot,
    but they are both lacking key ingredients.
    Thank you for making us all realize we need to work harder to
    understand what we are being fed. I love this blog.
    Hope you are having an interesting time in Saudi Arabia.

    Reply

  50. David says:

    You’ve never been of two minds on a complex issue, especially one that requires both considerable thinking and some pretty sage counsel? The principle is obvious – how to achieve that principle not so much, especially since the United States has such a seriously blemished record itself, including most recently what we have inflicted on the citizens of Iraq.
    Hillary is not simple-minded. Thus can one find this statement perplexing (except as an attempt to attract the votes of a particular interest group, including someone like me, who loathes the Chinese for what they have done to Tibet, although this won’t get my support because I don’t want posturing, I want a president who can actually influence China’s policies, and this can require being of two or more minds). But Hillary would be a quite capable president. Obama will be an excellent president. One of the assessments I found most intriguing – it was someone who has known him for quite some time – is that Obama will seek the advice of a variety of people in a position to know what they are talking about, and then do the right thing.

    Reply

  51. Tahoe Editor says:

    Yeah … we definitely need a candidate who’s “of two minds.”

    Reply

  52. arthurdecco says:

    “Hillary Clinton’s call for boycotting the opening ceremonies is an example of a simple-minded, binary approach to US-China relations.” posted by Steve Clemons
    Mr. Clemons, you used the Phrase, “simple-minded” in the same sentence as “Hilary Clinton”! I couldn’t agree more with your assessment.
    What other reason do Americans need to finally and firmly reject her run for the Presidency of the United States?
    Senator Obama may be many things, but he can hardly be described as “simple-minded”, can he?
    Isn’t America sick and tired of “simple-minded” politicians yet? They sure should be.

    Reply

  53. JohnH says:

    It’s amazing to watch American politicians bloviate over Tibet, which by any standard is a terrible tragedy. The country has been occupied for 50 years. There are estimates of a million deaths. And the culture, society and economy have been pulverized.
    Meanwhile these same self-righteous politicians totally overlook the fact that America has accomplished the same thing in Iraq, except that it only took five years. What will it look like after 50?
    Clemens is right. The US should not boycott the Olympics in China unless America is prepared to have the rest of the world return the favor in a few years. Of course, maybe then the rest of the world will promote the Olympics as a way to engage the US in becoming a “responsible stakeholder” in promoting the international common good.

    Reply

  54. WigWag says:

    My recollection is that the last time we boycotted anything related to the Olympics was when the Summer games were held in Moscow after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It looks like some things never change. This time we’re in Afghanistan (and like the Soviets, apparentley fighting a losing battle) and the main advocate for boycotting the Olympics in the Carter Administration (Zbigniew Brzezinski) is now one of Senator Obama’s key foreign policy advisors.
    What is it they say? Something like..the more things change, the more they remain the same.

    Reply

  55. Mr.Murder says:

    Kyl-Lieberman actually forbade further action by the Unitary Executive that was coupled with the rather over the top diplomatic statement re: Iran’s guard. It was a pretty deft pairing of rhetoric with policy restrictions.
    So we should stay the course regarding China’s support of genocide elsewhere? Who could have imagined?
    Who knew that topic had a price on it.
    As for North Korea, we actually can use their emergence as a triangulation vs. China, and as a way to make certain Japan keeps us close to their side for protection as part of a buffer state.
    As for Iran, China didn’t give them a nudge, they gave us marching orders. Bush deliberately forced isolation on the west re:Iran so China could get the market access on its terms. Mission Accomplished, we used coalition of the bribed promissory notes on future Iraqi CPA oil concessions to buy our position on steering China’s influence Iran’s way.
    Follow the Money.
    The same way Bechtel and other interests worked proliferation North Korea’s way. Cheney and other such use South Africa and other lands as proxies for dealing with Iran.
    They want proliferation. It is their war justification, and it makes the pricey Star Wars missile shields into a plausible profit margin on lines not even oil can equal.
    Speaking of which, China can shoot down satellites with their own laser armed one. Maybe Clemons knows something we don’t? Are you saying we should dance with the devil?
    Saddam’s rape rooms never included organ harvesting operations. How low a bar Bush sets for economic allies.

    Reply

  56. Tahoe Editor says:

    World Olympics Used for Political Purposes for First Time Ever
    http://blog.indecision2008.com/2008/04/07/world-olympics-used-for-political-purposes-for-first-time-ever/
    Hmm. And Barack says he’s “of two minds” on the issue. How much time will he spend being “of two minds”?

    Reply

  57. netsurfer says:

    Clemons, you are a seriously fascinating dude. I have no doubts now that you are not a Hillary shill. I think you must be one of the few genuinely neutral players in the DC insiders game. Must be tough on you.
    I just want to say THANK YOU for your incisive analysis and perspective. I am sorry for doubting you before, and even if you did support Hillary Clinton for President in the end, I really respect you for your honest commentary.
    This made my day.

    Reply

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