What Changed?

In 1979 the USSR invaded a neighboring country and all normal countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics.

Since 2014 Russia not only invaded a neighboring country and a faraway country but also downed a civilian airplane from Netherlands and meddled in a host of Western elections. And it didn’t occur to anybody to boycott the World Cup in Russia.

What changed? Why doesn’t anybody care any more and what needs to happen for them to care again?

It’s not like taking a stand would entail a big sacrifice. But Macron knows how much Putin invested into getting Marine LePen, an actual fascist, elected instead of him. And yet he can’t avoid jumping up and down like a banshee in a pathetic effort to strengthen the very regime that will probably take the presidency away from him in the next electoral cycle.

Not only doesn’t anybody care, it doesn’t even occur to people that they could care. Say what you will about the Cold War but at least it gave people some organizing principles. Most folks don’t seem to be able to come up with any on their own.

27 thoughts on “What Changed?”

  1. In 1979 the USSR was still considered a nuclear superpower capable of starting World War III and bringing civilization to a fiery end. Now no one except the writers at “The Nation” magazine takes Russia seriously as anything but a regional threat whose bellicose dictator has to be tolerated by leaders like Macron and Merkel for individual national purposes.

    I remember a political cartoon from the late 1960’s showing a meeting of generals at the Pentagon. From the window in the meeting room, the reader could see college-age protesters in the street carrying signing like, “Peace now! Stop the war!” One of the sneering generals remarks, “Stupid kids think they can change the world overnight.” The wall behind the general has a warning light with a sign that reads, “TWENTY MINUTE WARNING FOR TOTAL NUCLEAR DESTRUCTION.”

    Nobody has nuclear jitters like that anymore.


  2. “..and meddled in a host of Western elections.”

    This qualifier seems arbitrary. US invaded a country and literally killed a million Iraqi civilians in the last decade alone. I’v never heard of anyone calling for its boycott. If I remember correctly, you’ve been passionately against boycotts yourself, calling them silly expressions of consumerist mentality, etc.


    1. Since the entire world economy is in the US hands, it’s not possible to boycott it. There’s nothing anybody can realistically do. But Russia is nothing. It’s entire economy is the size of New York or whatever. There’s no penalty for flipping them off. But nobody tries.

      And I’m not calling for people to stop buying Russian products (even if they existed). I’d like to see some action on the state level, not on the individual consumerist one.


  3. Well they let Warsaw Pact countries compete in Mexico (1968) just two months after their invasion of Czechoslovakia…
    The 1980 boycott was a fluke and pretty controversial. My memory is that it wasn’t a left-right issue and people supported or were against the boycott more on an individualized bases.
    Also, AFAIK the World Cup never had the political subtext of the olympics since (among other reasons) the US sucked/s at soccer and there’s not much interest there (and there were no real Eastern bloc soccer powers either).
    And it never had the ‘amateur’ mystique of the olympics since the players tended to be well-compensated pros.
    All big international sporting events now have mostly devolved into carnivals of graft and doping (there are suggestions that the unnaturally energetic Croats must be receiving something illicit) and have less to do with real athletics than a cockfight in a Bogota slum or bumfight videos.
    The next World Cup won’t be one bit better bought by bribery and built by slave labor by gulf oil wealth filth, I can’t imagine the shame of participating in that whorefest.


    1. …and speaking of Qatar let’s not forget the legally enforced misogyny, what a source of shame for FIFA (I would right if I thought shame was an emotion they were capable of)


  4. Do you really have to ask this question, because the answer is VERY simple? We replaced large swaths of American voters (average iq of ~105) with another demographic (average IQ of ~90). Do you think the 90 IQ voters consider things like the freedom and well-being of Ukrainians at the ballot box? Do you think Americans, who have undergone the largest invasion in human history, worry about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?




    1. I’m guessing you are the one whose IQ is too low to understand this discussion. What the hell do ballot boxes and freedom have to do with this?

      I suggest you chew in silence for a while.


      1. “all normal countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics.”

        Were you refering to individuals or governments here? If it was the latter, then the ballot box matters as does the voters’ ideals.

        Also, do you think that individuals with an iq of 90 folow world events closely enough to have educated opinion on such matters? I am not so sure about that.

        Chew on that in silence.


  5. “All the normal countries” did not boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Sure, the US, Canada, West Germany* and a whole host of others did. The UK did not, France did not…
    I suspect a lot of it is that people, including the ones with influence are somewhat more jaded nowadays. In the Cold War it was easy to pretend we knew who the good guys and bad guys were.** We have the Iraq War in which our countries went to war on false pretenses, we can’t exactly blame Russia for the same thing. We have Trump in the US (which is bad enough) who is also pretty friendly with Putin and may have some dodgy associations with/support given by him. Bit hypocritical also to boycott Russia.
    The football (soccer) World Cup, as pointed out by others, probably is not that big a deal for those countries that don’t have a big association football following, such as the US. Compare to the Olympics, the one big prestigious sporting event which covers almost everything…

    I have to resist the temptation to say simply “Germany” since there were essentially two Germanies at the time…

    ** As if this should ever happen. The governments of most respective countries it seems are no more good or bad guys than any other. Part of me thinks they are all the bad guys, but Ill leave it at that.


    1. It may be too early but it sounds to me that you are drawing a parallel between the war in Iraq and Russia’s actions. Or what does “the same thing” refer to? Do I need to explain why it’s not “the same thing” at all?


      1. \ It may be too early but it sounds to me that you are drawing a parallel between the war in Iraq and Russia’s actions.


        // Do I need to explain why it’s not “the same thing” at all?

        Judging by the comment, yes.


          1. \ Here is a question. How did you find out that the US went to war in Iraq? How did anybody find out?

            I do not remember and didn’t really follow news then, but I suppose USA declared entering this war, unlike Russia in Ukraine.


              1. Just now in the NYTIMES, a paper that, hilariously, keeps accusing Trump of shilling for Russia:

                “He did not mention factors that are usually cited in the West as causes for friction with Moscow: Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its support for rebels in Ukraine and for the Assad regime in Syria.”

                Four years later it’s still “rebels in Ukraine.” Four fucking years. Whereas anybody who would deny the presence of the US troops in Iraq not four years but four minutes into the hostilities would be a total lunatic.


              2. Exactly. Everybody knew and everybody agreed.

                Everyone I knew was active in opposing the war in Iraq, including a marche on Washington, letters to congress urging them to vote against it, etc.


      2. Well both on the surface would appear to involve involve the invasion of a sovereign state on questionable legal pretenses and with considerable distortions of the truth being told to try and justify it to everyone else. Of course, they are not the same. Even in my own understanding you could point out differences which might seem to make the actions of Western powers in Iraq seem more morally justified than Russian actions in Ukraine- like the former got rid of a murderous dictator, and did not like the latter involve the direct annexation of territory and the deliberate destablising of the country via fairly obvious front groups).

        Trying to point out that these actions were “the same thing” was not really the thrust of my argument though, more why people in general might seem to be somewhat more jaded these days than they used to be.


        1. An invasion of a sovereign state on legal pretenses is a narrative that the US accepted from the start. Russia never did. Still hasn’t, in fact.

          Wars exist. I hate them, you hate them, all good people hate them. Still, they are an integral part of human existence. Unfortunately.

          But the US never denied sending troops to Iraq. We all knew it was happening. Many of us marched against the war.

          Russia never accepted invading anything. There’s no marching or protest because there’s officially no war. Russia can’t be asked to withdraw troops because officially there aren’t any. In the US, it was a major electoral issue who supported the war and when the troops will be withdrawn. Obama beat Hillary back in 2008 because he’d opposed the war. It’s an existing issue that can be debated.

          When Russia accepts that there was an invasion, this will be mega news. It will be such a massive transformation that it can’t even be imagined right now. It’s like Israel issuing a statement recognizing that it’s been engaging in genocidal activities against Palestinians.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. These are fair points, though at the same time it might add to the general cynicism even given that. Of course, this could be the internet (which it seems Russia is doing its best to influence in terms of skepticism of the US gov’t).

            (Sorry for replying so late to an old post like this)


      3. Maybe? This reader is talking about false pretenses, invasions of countries. I don’t think “the same thing” is meant literally.

        But generally, yes:
        – Olympics are supposed to be amateur, including all sports and countries, and promote world peace
        – FIFA World Cup is 1 sport, professional, and is supposed to be about that professional sport, not about brotherhood and understanding
        – Not everybody boycotted the Olympics
        – We always postured against the USSR … but not Russian Federation
        – We don’t think we’re about to go to mutual assured destruction with the RF as we did with the USSR
        – Both US and that country of which Moscow is the capital have invaded and mistreated a few countries, and people have a variety of opinions about the necessity, morality, etc. of this
        – It’s recreational, Macron, and the happiness of winning a game. I enjoyed it when the Warriors won the NBA playoffs, even though I don’t believe in basketball. I like it when the Giants win the World Series.
        – People may not understand enough / know enough / etc. When I was a child I thought Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, etc. were regions of USSR and were part of “Russia.” I did not know Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were countries recently cobbled together.

        But my general point is: it was political then, and it’s political now. And things weren’t clearer or purer then even if they looked it from certain perspectives


  6. The Republicans are in charge of Congress and the Presidency so they’re not interested in the meddling with the elections (because they benefited). So why would they be interested in boycotting a picayune sporting event? (I can hear the howls of protest from the rest of the world over calling the World Cup “picayune.” )
    After all, several Republican senators went to Sochi to meet with Putin.
    …In Moscow, the senators have been portrayed as anything from peacemakers to fools. Democrats in Washington were only slightly more generous….
    …“I’ve been pretty upfront that the election interference — as serious as that was, and unacceptable — is not the greatest threat to our democracy,” Mr. Johnson said in an interview with The Washington Examiner. “We’ve blown it way out of proportion.”…

    We’re supposed to be the world’s greatest and premier democracy and other countries have modeled their constitution after ours. Or you know, we’re supposed to self define as such. [Blah, blah, federal republic.] Or you know forget democracy. If you can’t get people to organize around the principle of “don’t fuck with my nation”…well….

    I can’t speak for European countries.

    Or maybe the picayune sporting event is the most harmless way for people to express nationalism.


    1. Forget Republicans. Netherlands lost a civilian airplane to Russians (which is now an accepted fact in their country). Have they offered any opinions on the glorification of Russia through sporting events? If they hadn’t failed to qualify, would they have gone, like nothing happened?


  7. In unrelated news… Guess who’s going to Spain for a week in a few hours…
    It’s just the touristy Costa del Sol, but… better than nothing. And the first time I’ll have been on the Spanish mainland in almost ten years (the last few visits have been to islands in the Mediterranean or Atlantic).
    Since I don’t travel with much digitally I’ll probably follow what’s going on here by phone but won’t comment because I’m too stupid to type on a touch keyboard – the devil’s flyswatter, I tell you it’s the devil’s egg timer!)

    Liked by 1 person

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