I'm sure there's still readers out there who still don't believe that the Trump regime is taking orders from the Russians, but I'm going to make another case for that here: this week the Russians were kicked out of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games in South Korea in February as the International Olympic Committee dropped the hammer on Putin and Russian sports doping in Sochi in 2014. The Atlantic's Julia Ioffe:
In rigging the Olympics, Putin got what he wanted—a successful event and a winning medal count—but the conspiracy that Russia needed to get there inevitably surfaced, and now 11 of those 33 medalists have been stripped of their prizes. Others will be given medals in their stead at Pyeongchang Olympics. Russian sport officials, like Mutko, are now banned from the Olympics for life. Russian athletes won’t be able to compete in Winter Olympics under their flag—athletes proven to be clean can compete under a neutral flag. In fact, neither the Russian anthem nor the Russian flag will appear in Pyeongchang.
In October, Putin, anticipating the IOC’s decision, said that this would be “a humiliation for the country.” Humiliation, a word echoed by many Russians when the punishment was handed down on Tuesday, the same word in the mouths of so many Russians in the wake of the Vancouver flop. Humiliation is a particular obsession for Putin, the fear of it informing his posturing at home and abroad. Before Americans spoke of making America great again, Russians spoke of Putin raising Russia up off its knees, a two-decade exercise of expunging the humiliation of the Soviet collapse. Sochi and the elaborate doping scheme used there was intended to do just that, to erase the humiliation of Vancouver, to show that Russia had restored its historic glory, to end the international mockery and disdain. Instead, like so many of Russia’s moves under Putin, it achieved the opposite. Yet again, the glitz turned out to be a sloppy front for the rot.
It may have been an impressive, FSB-orchestrated operation, but what did it get them? After Vancouver, Russia may have been smarting with the perceived humiliation of performing below their own expectations—but after Sochi, the Russian flag won’t fly at the next Olympics at all. Russian officials are busy denouncing this kind of Olympic Games as hopelessly “hobbled” and “not even the Olympics,” while others call for a full boycott by the clean Russian athletes. This wasn’t what Sochi was supposed to achieve. This is a humiliation far worse than Vancouver’s; this is pariah status. Except that Russia was already a pariah for its actions in Ukraine and for meddling in America’s 2016 presidential election, both of which made Russia’s position in the world more complicated, not less. If Putin is the omniscient mastermind many Americans imagine him to be, surely he would have anticipated this?
When I was last in Moscow, a military analyst told me that, after two decades of post-Soviet Western mockery, Russia had decided that, since no one in the West was going to love it, at least they’d fear it. But what comes after that, when the consequences set in and the fear turns to loathing condescension? Isn’t that … humiliating?
So where am I going with this? The Olympic world humiliated Putin, so now Putin will do everything he can to turn the 2018 Winter Games into an international joke. That apparently starts with the US suddenly floating the idea to drop out of the Olympiad.
Whether US athletes will be able to attend the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea remains an "open question," US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Wednesday night.
The Winter Olympics are set to be held Feb. 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The situation with neighboring North Korea, which has grown increasingly hostile while pursuing its nuclear ambitions, is "changing by the day," Haley said on Fox News, making the security of US athletes uncertain.
Still, Haley said she believes President Donald Trump's administration will work to "find out the best way" to make sure the athletes are protected.
"I think those are conversations we are going to have to have, but what have we always said? We don't ever fear anything, we live our lives," Haley said. "And certainly that is a perfect opportunity for all of them to go and do something they have worked so hard for. What we will do is, we will make sure that we're taking every precaution possible to make sure that they're safe and to know everything that's going on around them."
Asked if it's a "done deal" that US athletes will be able to attend the Olympics, Haley said: "There's an open question. I have not heard anything about that, but I do know in the talks that we have -- whether it's Jerusalem or North Korea -- it's about, how do we protect the US citizens in the area?"
Suddenly, a day after the Russians were banned from the 2018 games in South Korea, the security of US athletes at the games is "an open question". And if the security of the mightiest nation on earth is in question, maybe nobody else will be safe at the games either. If the Trump regime may not send a delegation because of "security" then what do they know is coming? Maybe that makes everyone else nervous. Maybe they shouldn't send delegations either, it's "too risky".
And suddenly it's not Russia being punished. It's everyone, starting with host nation South Korea.
Putin may have his revenge. And he may very well get it now if the US drops out of the Games. Now, it's maybe a trial balloon, but I'm betting if the IOC were to change its mind about Russia, maybe the US would decide that the Games have to go on in the Olympic Spirit.
I can't prove of course that this is what happened, that Putin picked up the phone and called Trump and said "You need to threaten to pull out of the Olympics over North Korea".
But there are never coincidences this big at this level of the game.