LET THE RUSSIANS PLAY! NO TO THE NEW COLD WAR
09-12-17 – As if the McCarthyist hysteria could not possibly get any more deceitful, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently issued a statement banning Russia from participation at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea (“Republic of Korea” or ROK). Claiming that Russia systematically manipulated anti-doping rules during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014 and since, the IOC Executive Board effectively banned the Russian uniform, the Russian flag and the Russian anthem from the 2018 games. Amongst other measures seemingly out of the script of a 1960s era James Bond film, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) was suspended from the IOC, ROC President Alexander Zhukov was suspended as a member of the IOC, and the Russian Minister of Sport (Vitaly Mutko) and his deputy (Yuri Nagornykh) were banned from any participation in all future Olympic Games.
On hearing this, one might think that the IOC must have a mountain of substantial evidence to take such vast and sweeping steps. But, no, the IOC has based its outrageous actions on the Schmid Report – which is based on the “testimony” of a Russian who defected to the US in 2015, and is now under a US witness protection program. Grigory Rodchenkov, whose defection previously led to the McLaren Report which then led to the partial ban of Russia from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the total ban of Russia from the Paralympics, doesn’t deny that he has been involved in serious wrongdoing. Russia’s own Investigative Committee into the matter declared that it had enough evidence to show that Rodchenkov had destroyed the doping tests of Russian athletes required by world anti-doping agencies, as well as the letters asking as to their whereabouts. This was done for his own financial gain – and reports have it that he now has a fancy apartment and a brand new ‘Infinity’ car in the US provided for him.
That is, the Russian government has admitted that there were serious and illegal moves on the part of Rodchenkov and a group of his contacts while they operated in sports labs in Russia. They admit this was a crime, and have moved to prosecute Rodchenkov, and have called for his extradition from the US to do so. What the Russian government has expressly denied, however, are the repeated claims by the IOC and others within the US government that Rodchenkov’s malfeasance was in any way “state sponsored” or directed from the Russian government, and certainly not ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, they have stated that the Schmid Report concurs with their own findings – guilt on the part of Rodchenkov, but no evidence at all of the deception of the world anti-doping bodies by the Russian Ministry of Sports or the Russian government. The Russian government doesn’t deny that doping is a problem in elite sports in every country, including their own. But the relentless US claims of state-sponsored sports doping in Russia is nothing more than a tissue of lies.
The corruption of Olympic legitimacy
Any remnants of impartiality, fairness and sportsmanlike conduct from the bodies running the Olympics now lie in shreds, if indeed they existed in the first place. The Olympic Committees are being used as tools in the New Cold War against Russia, succumbing to political pressure originating from Washington – or perhaps being handsomely paid to act as mouthpieces. The IOC doesn’t hide that it is sponsored by some of the largest capitalist corporations in the world, almost all of them headquartered in the West, or in countries allied to the US, such as Japan and South Korea. General Electric, Toyota, Samsung, Proctor & Gamble, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, Intel, and Visa are amongst them. The Chinese based Alibaba is also there, which may be one reason why China has not been targeted in the Olympic aspect of the New Cold War.
The Olympics are supposed to be about sport. In a class divided society, and in a world where the US Empire is struggling to maintain its unipolar world, we would be naïve to believe that politics does not play a role. But the current level of the manipulation of the Olympic movement to serve the deadly political interests of US imperialism beggars belief. In the same way in which there is zero evidence to back the absurd claim that Russia interfered with the 2016 US presidential elections, there is zero evidence to back the lurid claim that there is a “state-sponsored” program of sports doping in Russia. It is precisely on zero evidence, though, that McCarthyism, old or new, functions. All that is needed is attempted smear and baseless allegations, repeated many times by Western governments and the corporate media arms which are effectively capitalist state media. As the saying goes, a lie repeated a thousand times eventually becomes accepted as truth. Yet working people do not always buy the snake oil.
The thoroughly corrupted officials of the Olympic movement have also maintained their ban on the Russian Paralympic Team, which was banned from participation in the Rio Paralympics. This move is beneath contempt. Disabled people face a lifetime of difficulty and hardship, enduring practical and social isolation, a lack of acceptance, and physical travails that few able-bodied people have to even contemplate, let alone deal with on a daily basis. All measures to include the physically and mentally disabled to take part in society at a level which they are able should be encouraged, not discouraged. Paralympic sport is one activity that can give some disabled people some meaning, and even some recognition, in their lives. The fact that Washington does not blink twice in causing immense hardship to the disabled people of Russia in order to maintain their rotting carcass of world “leadership” speaks volumes about who they are. It also exposes Russophobia as something particularly loathsome.
Payback for defeat in Syria
As transparently false as the claims of state backed Russian sport doping are, there are very real political reasons why this nonsensical game is wheeled out time and again. Principally, the main reason is that Russia upheld what was left of international law and intervened in Syria – at the invitation of the Syrian government – to take on and militarily defeat the regime change war waged by the US government. The US was backed in this atrocious proxy war by the governments of the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel, Australia, Canada, Denmark and others. Of course, this was all done in the dirtiest way possible – the direct funding and arming of genocidal mercenary terrorists flown or trucked into the Syrian Arab Republic. These barbarians, under a myriad of names – ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, the “Free Syrian Army”, the “Syrian Democratic Forces” – unleashed the most merciless horror in history upon the people of Syria, especially those who were seen to be supporting their own secular government, led by President Bashar Al-Assad. This war caused the deaths of up to 400 000 people, the overwhelmingly majority of whom where Syrian civilians or Syrian soldiers defending their country. It was arguably accompanied by the largest compendium of lies and media distortions of the truth of any war previously seen.
Currently, this war is in some parts still live. Israeli Defence Force jets still sporadically bomb parts of Syria. Largely, however, the US war for regime change in Syria was defeated, and Russia’s contribution, beginning on September 30, 2015, was decisive. Russian air power, via the superbly engineered SU-24 and SU-25 jet fighters, dealt blow after blow against the Western armed ISIS forces. With the assistance of Iran – who were also invited by the Syrian government – and the fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, Washington’s regime change manoeuvres came to zilch. The Russian government expertly checkmated the US deep state by inviting the US government to take part in the war against ISIS. The US was paralysed, as it would lose too much political face by coming to the aid of ISIS – which was a CIA operation to start with. Neither did the US want Russia to gain any legitimacy by joining with them to take out their own intelligence assets. Politically exposed, the US stood down, gradually withdrawing logistical support for the ISIS Frankenstein.
Crimea goes home
The defeat of the US in Syria was arguably its first defeat in a major imperialist war since Vietnam. This burns the US deep state, and their operatives in the Democrats and the Republicans, more deeply than anything else. No one is supposed to be able to stand up to the US, let alone defeat their war plans. But it was not only the people of Syria, and Iran, and Russia, and Hezbollah that dared to defy the US. The population of Crimea did also, in response to the US led NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) installed fascist coup in Kiev in February 2014. The illegal coup, backed by fascists on the ground who literally hailed their predecessors who worked with the Nazis against the Soviet Union during World War II, presented Ukrainians with an ultimatum – succumb to NATO backed fascism, or get out.
Crimea had been “gifted” to Ukraine by then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954. Yet in reality, the overwhelming majority of Crimeans are ethnically Russian, and have been for centuries. When in fact Ukraine abolished the constitution of Crimea and sent in troops in 1995, no one in the West uttered a sound. Now the Western media repeats over and over that Russia “annexed” Crimea. Actually, Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to re-join Russia, in March 2014, rather than live under NATO armed fascism from Kiev. How overwhelming? By a vote of at least 96%! It doesn’t get any more convincing than that. Despite this, the US and Western governments repeat endlessly that Russia “annexed” Crimea. In this instance, it was not even the actions of the Russian government which stymied regime change in Ukraine. Even voting in favour of re-joining Russia, in an area considered for centuries to be Russian anyway, and in order to avoid Nazi-led fascism – is enough for the US state to claim “Russian aggression”. The mind boggles.
Just who is meddling in whose elections?
The US orchestrated banning of Russia, via the IOC, is also calculated to cause maximum damage to the prestige of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will be running as a candidate in the Russian elections of 2018. The US deep state also hopes that any showcasing that Russia will be able to do via the hosting of the 2018 (soccer) World Cup will likewise be undermined. These insidious moves expose once again the laughable claim of Russian meddling in the 2016 US Presidential Elections – the reality is entirely the other way around. Washington’s candidate in the Russian elections – Alexei Navalny – has been the recipient of funding from the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US deep state body charged with subverting and overthrowing governments, and/or countries, which are independent of the US and their allies. Navalny has been found guilty of embezzlement, and is currently banned from running in the Russian elections next year, due to this criminal conviction. Cue Washington’s nefarious manipulating of the International Olympic Committee.
There is a crying need for an anti-imperialist anti-war movement, and not just because the US is hell bent on bringing Russia to heel. Working people will not be able to take the first step in defending their deteriorating living and working conditions unless they start to break from the foreign policy of Washington, backed as it is by Canberra. Unfortunately, most Australian left parties either agree with the targeting of Russia, or are silent in the face of anti-Russian hysteria. As we have mentioned previously, today’s Russophobia contains elements of both racism and anti-communism despite the overthrow of socialism in the former Soviet Union more than 25 years ago. At the very least, workers should demand that all bans on Russian participation in the Olympics be lifted, as well as all Western trade sanctions.
The US has Russia in its gunsights, and any conflict with Russia will mean the catastrophe of nuclear war. Working people need to be clear that in this eventuality, the US ruling class, and not Russia, will be at fault. While the Russian government defends a form of capitalism within its own borders, which will eventually need to be overthrown by an insurgent working class, workers internationally must avoid at all costs inadvertently conspiring with the US to take down Russia, via US backed NGOs or indeed Alexei Navalny. In the meantime, Russia must be defended against NATO and US led brinkmanship, which is inching the world closer and closer to World War III. A desperately needed campaign to normalise relations with Russia can begin by demanding: LET THE RUSSIANS PLAY!