Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 8:16 PM

Trump, May, Macron: Don’t Bomb Syria. Withdraw World Cup from Russia!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Scoring macabre political points is the only goal Western powers can accomplish by bombing Syria. This is why I’ve been decrying it for years. In fact, when Western commentators hailed Russian President Vladimir Putin for joining this priapic orgy of bombing in 2015, I wailed in “Bombing ISIS Smacks of Masturbatory Violence,” November 18, 2015.

Incidentally, the only reason President Obama didn’t join in is that flaccid members of the US Congress and UK Parliament turned him off. Never mind that many of these same members then mocked him as weak for not bombing, while praising Putin as strong for doing so.

Now President Trump is amassing a Bush-lite coalition of the willing to bomb what little is left of Syria. He would have you believe that this will punish the Syrian president, “animal Assad,” for gassing his own people … again.

But he knows better, and so should you. After all, it has been plain for years for all to see that such bombings only punish the Syrian people.

This is why I urge British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron to talk Trump off his latest ledge. They can prevail upon him to join them in taking another, more effective course, especially if they promise to tell the world it was all his idea.

It is self-evident that the best way to punish Assad is to punish Putin, his puppet master. Not to mention the myriad reasons Western leaders have to punish Putin for more direct sins, notably for invading Crimea, sabotaging elections, and poisoning people — all so infamously.

Of course, the most direct way to punish him is to target him and his kitchen cabinet of oligarchs with increasingly punitive financial sanctions.

The Trump administration begrudgingly imposed only a sampling just days ago. However, for patently suspicious reasons, it is refusing to impose many congressionally mandated sanctions, especially related to oil and gas, that could cripple Russia’s economy.

Still, that sampling showed the effect imposing the full panoply of such sanctions could have.

Listed companies controlled by Oleg Deripaska have lost over $6 billion in market value since they were hit with the sanctions on Friday by the Trump administration.

Deripaska, a billionaire who once had close ties to President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, is one of seven oligarchs who were sanctioned as part of an effort to punish the Kremlin.

(CNN Money, April 9, 2018)

But Putin is reportedly twice as rich as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the legitimate world’s richest man. I have ridiculed this wannabe czar’s brazen chicanery in many commentaries – perhaps most relevantly in “Putin’s Military Maneuvers Just Mercenary Distractions,” June 18, 2015.

In fact, Putin and his cronies control so much wealth, they can probably weather financial sanctions for years. This, especially with China offering sanctions-proof havens like Hong Kong and Macau to continue laundering their ill-gotten gains.

On the other hand, Putin is a proud man. He also happens to take almost as much pride in Russia’s standing as a powerhouse in the “Wide World of Sports” as he does in its standing as a military superpower. This explains why he bent over backwards to circumvent an IOC ban on Russian athletes competing in the Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games.

Except that there’s no denying the blow to his pride of watching Russian athletes compete under a neutral flag. But Putin must have rationalized that this was a small price to pay for the state-sanctioned doping he pulled off during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. After all, he sanctioned this doping because his pride could not even countenance the United States or any Western country winning the jingoistic medals count at his Olympics.

Given this, nothing (and I mean nothing) would wound Putin’s pride more than Western powers leading an effort to replace Russia as host of this summer’s World Cup (June 14 – July 15). There would be no face-saving way to circumvent or rationalize that national shame.

Alas, Team USA did not even qualify. Therefore, it falls to Britain’s May and France’s Macron to lead this effort, which might be just as well. Because it’s arguable that the European Union wields as much influence with FIFA, which governs the World Cup, as the United States does with the IOC, which governs the Olympics.

And, just as the US led the world in boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the EU can lead it in replacing Russia as host of the 2018 World Cup.

Incidentally, superstar players like Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, Lionel Messi of Argentina, and Sadio Mane of Senegal could probably be even more influential than political leaders like May and Macron in forcing a replacement.

Frankly, all it would take is one viral tweet from Ronaldo. He could say something like this:

I’m sorry, Russia has become such a rogue state, my conscience won’t allow me to play there any more than it would allow me to play in North Korea. #ReplaceRussia!

I am calling for replacing instead of boycotting Russia because I do not think athletes and fans should be punished for the sins of political leaders … of any country. More to the point, if EU leaders make clear their intent to punish Putin, I am sure they could prevail upon soccer-mad and already prepared countries like Mexico, South Africa, or even Germany to host this World Cup … even at this late date.

As it happens, though, I’ve been calling on FIFA to replace Russia ever since it gobbled up Crimea and rigged the Sochi Games.

The inefficacy of sanctions provoked me to propose the following as the only way to punish Russia and its macho, sports-obsessed president.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) should enlist the governing bodies of all major sports to ban Russia from hosting any sanctioned competition, so long as Putin remains in power. Because, no matter their representations, officials in Putin’s Russia will never implement the reforms WADA deems are necessary to eradicate systemic doping…

Nothing would [be more effective in this respect] than FIFA withdrawing Russia’s highly coveted hosting gig for the 2018 World Cup.

(“In Putin’s Russia Even Athletics Is a Criminal (Doping) Enterprise,” The iPINIONS Journal, November 9, 2015)

So let it be called, so let it be done!

Having said all that, I fear Assad might have presented Trump an opportunity to wag the dog that he cannot resist. I commented on this spectre just yesterday in “Assad Gasses His Own People Again and Trump Vows to Punish Him … Again,” April 10, 2018.

In fact, Trump’s egomaniacal stunts are such that he will probably order bombs to begin landing on Syria this Sunday night. Because that’s when ABC News has scheduled what all of Washington anticipates will be a blockbuster interview with former FBI director James Comey about his dealings with “Mafia Don” Trump.

That interview will be based on Comey’s damning tell-all, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership. But Trump knows all too well that Comey’s bombshell revelations would prove no match for his “nice, smart bombs” exploding in Syria.

And he’d be right; the media would focus on the latter like moths to flames. To be fair, though, bombshell revelations about Trump and his presidency are as predictable at this point as salacious details about Stormy and her porno films.

Related commentaries:
bombing ISIS
Assad gassing people
Athletes boycotting
Rio Olympics
Sochi doping
Putin’s maneuvers
Russia and China
Putin’s Russia
Stormy

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