Thursday, June 7, 2018 at 12:34 PM

Nations Participating in Russia’s World Cup Endorsing Putin’s Rogue Behavior

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

The first matches of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 kick off a week today. But, if I were half the international “influencer” Kim Kardashian has become, those matches would be kicking off not in Russia but in England or France.

Perhaps you’re aware that President Vladimir Putin has turned Russia into a rogue state by, among other things:

  • annexing Crimea and fomenting unrest in Ukraine;
  • cyberattacking democratic elections across Europe and in the United States;
  • aiding and abetting the Syrian dictator in repeatedly gassing his own people; and
  • ordering the assassination of many Russian dissidents on UK soil.

But recall that it only took Russia invading Afghanistan for Western nations to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Therefore, based on that precedent, I thought Western leaders would seize the opportunity to boycott this World Cup.

I reasoned, however, that it would be unfair to punish the athletes, even Russian ones, for the misdeeds or decisions of their political leaders. This is why I wrote “Trump, May, Macron: Don’t Bomb Syria. Withdraw World Cup from Russia!” April 11, 2018. It includes this predicate for replacing Russia as host.

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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.

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Unfortunately, most Western nations would probably be more inclined to snub the United States than Russia these days. Because, since writing that, Trump has only compounded his alienation of those nations by imposing tariffs on their exports.

Of course, he began this alienation in the early days of his presidency by undermining long-established political and economic ties (e.g., threatening to withdraw from NATO and NAFTA) and insulting their leaders (e.g., refusing to shake hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to the White House and accusing British Prime Minister David Cameron and his successor Theresa May of wiretapping him during his presidential campaign).

In “US Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking of Presidential Election,” January 7, 2017, I argued that Trump smacks of a Manchurian president. This, because he seemed determined not only to alienate traditional allies while cultivating traditional enemies, but also to undermine the integrity of every institution that has made the United States the beacon of democratic governance for over 225 years.

The point is that, instead of leading them to replace Russia, Trump has provoked Western nations to embrace it as host. The irony is that, while Putin is preparing to preside over the World Cup (and all the fraternal goodwill that entails), Trump is cowering in Washington, wondering whether it’s safe for him to travel to erstwhile BFF countries like England (for a state visit in July) and Canada (for a G7 meeting this weekend).

All that’s left is for one of many disaffected European countries to submit a UN resolution to relocate its headquarters from New York City to Beijing (or Shanghai). Trust me, Trump has so debased and devalued America’s standing in the world (with his crude leadership and jingoistic policies) that it would probably pass overwhelmingly.

In any event, I shall boycott this World Cup – in my own modest but principled way – by suspending my tradition of publishing daily commentaries on matches.

Accordingly, this is my first and last commentary on the World Cup Russia 2018.

Related commentaries:
Trump, May, Macron withdraw
US intelligence
Treasonous Trump Manchurian president
2014 Brazil World Cup
2010 South Africa World Cup
2006 Germany World Cup

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