• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

To Russia With Love? In Praise of Trump the Includer

The soccer World Cup opened in Russia on June 14. The 32 competing national teams are hoping to lift the coveted trophy on July 15. Two hundred ten teams from six regional confederations vied to qualify for this global event. The last World Cup, in 2014, reached over three billion people through the media with more than one billion watching the final of the planet’s most popular and prestigious team competition.

Not one country has boycotted the 2018 event. Not one country refused to send its national team to Russia under the guise of criticizing the Russian “annexation” of Crimea or “interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine.” Not one country refused to send its team to a qualifying event or said that if its team qualified it would not attend the finals in Russia. All countries dreamed of having their team’s captain lift the trophy.

The recent G7 meeting of the bloc of leading western nations and Japan took place in Canada without the Russian Federation. Originally it was called the G8, but Russia was suspended in 2014, and the scheduled summit in Sochi was consequently moved to Brussels.

According to then President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, as long as Russia was “flagrantly violating international law and the order that the G7 has helped to build since the end of the Cold War, there is no need for the G7 to engage with Russia.”

The 2014 G7 communique calling for Russia to be suspended said that Moscow’s conduct towards Ukraine was inconsistent with the group’s “shared beliefs and responsibilities.”

Reports from the recent G7 summit indicate that the leaders spent considerable time discussing Russia. “You, know, we spend probably 25 percent of our time talking about Russia, and I said wouldn’t it be better if they were here,” President Trump said in an interview. He had suggested before the meeting that, “They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? …Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, we have a world to know.”

Italy’s new populist prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, supported inclusion. “I am in agreement with President Trump,” Mr. Conte tweeted. “Russia should re-enter the G8. It is in everyone’s best interests.”

Other leaders were more circumspect about Russia’s return to the G8. “I can imagine Russia’s return,” suggested Chancellor Merkel. “But first of all, we need to make progress in implementing the Minsk agreement,” she told ARD, Germany’s publicly owned television channel.

(From the Russian perspective, Russia “never asked to be allowed back” to the G8, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “When our western partners decided to return to the G7 format, we accepted their decision and have been working on other platforms since then,” including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, and the G20.)

Why should countries compete to send soccer teams to Russia while the leading western countries and Japan continue to suspend Russia from attending their economic summit? Given that President Trump has spoken with the international pariah North Korean President Kim Jong-Un, does it make sense to continue to exclude Russia from this important meeting?

The obvious answer is that politics and sports do not mix. But there are several counter-factuals, such the barring of South Africa from the 1964 Olympics over apartheid and the boycotts of the 1980 Moscow Games by the United States and the retaliatory boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Games by the Soviet Union. The joint North-South delegation to the recent Olympics was an important step towards restoring peace to the peninsula.

Indeed, it is puzzling that at the same time Russia continues to be outside the economic summit it has hosted the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 and now the World Cup in 2018.  Remember the original justification for the United States to boycott the Olympics of 1980 was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Is the annexation of Crimea or interference in eastern Ukraine any less a justification to not send teams to Russia for the World Cup? Is it hypocritical to continue to leave Russia out of the G8 while sending athletes to Russia for the Olympics and World Cup?

Whatever else President Trump is criticized for, he is not criticized for meeting with the North Korean dictator. He is praised for reaching out to relieve tensions that appeared to foreshadow nuclear disaster. Despite some hesitation, the meeting did take place; its justification was to be inclusive.

If we can be inclusive with the leader of North Korea and the World Cup and recent Olympics, what makes the G8 so exclusive? It seems superficial and petulant to continue to exclude Russia from this summit.

If Germany wins the World Cup – it is one of the favorites – will Angela Merkel attend the final game in Moscow? I bet she will. So, if she attends the final in Moscow and sits near President Putin, why couldn’t she invite him to Canada?

“If you’re part of the problem, you are also part of the solution,” it is often said. A solution to tensions on Russia’s borders following the breakup of the Soviet Union will not be solved by exclusion. Here, at least, Donald Trump has a point.

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
David Yearsley
Hard Bop and Bezos’ Balls
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail