I love Christopher Hitchens. I love his constant skewering of religion, is wit, his unapologetic love of drink and cigarettes, and, usually, his thoughts. Lately though, we've been diverging - his continued insistence that the Iraq war is a good thing is annoying, but his reasons are at least not as banal as those of most war supporters these days. His latest though, a call for us to boycott the Beijing Olympics, strikes me as fairly retarded.
First of all, shouldn't we have brought all these things up before the Olympics was awarded to Beijing? I'm sure the critics did, but they lost, and it's time to move on.
The real problem with this thinking is the arrogance and hypocrisy behind it. The US has only recently invaded another country for reasons that turned out to be false, and was opposed BY NEARLY THE ENTIRE WORLD for doing so. We also support, and have supported our own cast of unsavory types for reasons ranging from mere convenience to "geostrategic concerns." Does that make us ineligible to host the Olympics? And what do the Olympics even mean if the country that produces all of our cheap electronics and clothes, and has more nearly a fifth of the world's population can't host?
We've made the decision to recognize, conduct diplomacy, and trade with the PRC. Drawing the line at playing games with them doesn't make much sense. And if we've learned anything from the Iraq debacle, it's that yes, world opinion does count, and US power is not the end all to beat all of getting stuff done. China's population will be PISSED if we decide we're too good to come to their coming out party, and that will have long-term, far reaching consequences. The consequences might be worth it if there was a decent payoff - but ask yourself how many times the Chinese have caved to this type of threat. Would America?
James Fallows, who's blog I consistently enjoy and makes me actually consider shelling out to subscribe the The Atlantic, says all of the above better than I.