Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says the United States should consider boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia - if Russia grants political asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
The suggestion to boycott the Olympics in Russia is the epitome of political stupidity! Senator Graham made the comment out of his frustration that Russia is now bullying the United States with its support of Iran and the Assad regime in Syria.
Graham is one of the more frequent political oppositions to President Obama and sometimes opposition for the sake of opposition leads to absurdity. It is true that relations between the United States and Russia have grown tense and this should be of particular concern to America because Russia still has the nuclear weapons that were a daily threat to the United States during the Cold War Era. Russia has bonded with Iran and Syria and the possibility of granting asylum to Edward Snowden has deepened concerns that the United States and Russia are drifting further apart. But a boycott of the Olympics would punish the U.S. athletes and have no lasting impact on curbing the current direction of Russia under President Vladimir Putin.
House Speaker John Boehner rejected Graham’s call for a boycott of the Olympics by saying that Graham was “dead wrong.” It may seem strange, but when Republicans disagree with Republicans or Democrats disagree with Democrats we almost get the sense that bipartisanship is not completely dead!
In March of 1980, President Jimmy Carter called for a U.S. boycott of the Summer Olympics in Moscow. Both Houses of Congress passed resolutions supporting the boycott and some U.S. allies joined the boycott. Carter called for the boycott of the Olympics in Moscow after Russia invaded Afghanistan. The boycott upset many Americans and had no lasting negative impact on the then-Soviet Union. And imagine the impact the boycott had on the athletes who had dedicated their lives to training. There is no reason to call for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Russia in early 2014. The only thing the idea accomplishes is criticism of the Obama Administration. Suggesting something that is inherently flawed for the purpose of criticizing a president can only lead to discrediting the source – Senator Lindsey Graham.
Graham said the loves the Olympics, but hates what Russia is doing around the world. He said that U.S. and world participation in the Olympics in Russia would be similar to the world’s participation in the Olympics in Germany under Hitler in 1936. Graham is implying that Nazi Germany’s propaganda machine took advantage of being on the world stage just prior to the outbreak of World War II and that Russia would reap the same benefits. Graham’s concern is that the Winter Olympics in Russia will give that nation a chance to advance its position in the world - therefore we should not participate.
While Graham acknowledges that a boycott of the Olympics would unfairly punish the athletes, he stands by his call for a boycott unless anyone has a better idea of how to punish Russia. The United States is fully aware of our cooling relationship with Russia, but the question is what do we do? President Obama recently said that he would not “scramble jets” over Russia, which is a prudent strategy.
When the criticism of any president encourages proposals that endanger the United States, or in the case of an Olympic boycott unfairly punishes athletes, then it’s time to stop and realize that politicians do not care about what’s in the best interest of America – they care only about advancing the party.
Technically, the U.S. government does not have the authority to boycott the Games. That final decision is left up to the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The Olympic Games offer an opportunity for the world to unite – regardless of political disagreements. The United States has and will continue to host Olympic Games. We welcome the world to our country in the spirit of sportsmanship void of politics. A boycott of the Olympics over politics defies the spirit of the Games and makes the U.S. appear to be a bully.