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Olympic Games Offer Powerful Diplomacy Venue

Aug 12, 2008
While watching the Olympic games on TV I couldn't help notice a for the most part a relaxed and happy looking President Bush taking in the splendor and excitement of the Olympic games as displayed in the splendid Beijing venues constructed by the Chinese. The British have quite a challenge in hosting the games in 2012 to the new standards achieved by the Chinese.

It is a shame that President Bush couldn't enjoy the games without being required by events to engage in serious meetings with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and with the Chinese President Hu Jintao. While I am not a fan of President Bush I do recognize that the job of being President of the United States is an impossibly difficult one and that Presidents need time to enjoy events such as the Olympic Games even though their attendance is going to be in many aspects political.

Certainly diplomacy required Bush to meet with the host nations President. In the meeting with Hu Jintao President Bush stated that he brought up the same topics that he has presented as topics of concern in previous meetings such as the Chinese government's humans right violations, the occupation of Tibet, lack of freedom of the press, restriction of religious freedoms and the like.

In a meeting with Putin President Bush spoke about the US government's concern about the recent Russian combat operations in the Republic of Georgia, especially the bombing of the city of Gori.

I expect that in the meetings Putin and Hu Jintao listened politely but were thinking at the same time about the unique nature of American exceptionalism which is obviously embraced by Bush and the right wing Republican Party. They must have wondered why American thinks it is OK to invade and occupy Iraq, an action which probably has lead to over 1,000,000 Iraqis being killed over five years, and about 20% of the population being displaced, and yet feel free to lecture other countries over far less damaging military adventures or internal affairs.

Or perhaps they may wonder how a country that engages in renditions and torture and in wide spread spying against its own citizens can express such concerns over the human rights records of other nations.

American, through its own actions, has largely lost any effectiveness in the use of soft diplomacy. With America's track record of the past seven years no foreign government will be anything other than polite when America's leaders caution them about issues that they consider to be internal matters.

To effectively lead the world again America must regain the high ground on morality and lead by example, not hollow rhetoric. The Olympic Games offer a powerful venue for effective diplomacy as many of the world's leaders are attending the games and it is relatively easy to arrange informal discussions.

Unfortunately, most of the power to actually influence events is lost when your government's track record on the issues that need to be discussed is a poor one.
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