Obama undecided on boycott of Olympics

Sen. Barack Obama recently released this statement in regards to boycotting opening ceremony at the summer Olympic games in Beijing, as Sen. Clinton has called for President Bush to do:

If the Chinese do not take steps to help stop the genocide in Darfur and to respect the dignity, security, and human rights of the Tibetan people, then the President should boycott the opening ceremonies. As I have communicated in public and to the President, it is past time for China to respect the human rights of the Tibetan people, to allow foreign journalists and diplomats access to the region, and to engage the Dalai Lama in meaningful talks about the future of Tibet. I am also deeply concerned about China’s failure to support efforts to halt the genocide in Darfur.

If it is “past time for China to respect the human rights of the Tibetan people” then what is Obama waiting for? By saying we should wait until it gets closer to the games Sen. Obama risks looking like he is uneasy about taking stances on tough issues and acting boldly.

Obama on Boycott: Wait, Then Decide – [New York Times]

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7 Responses

  1. It does make Senator Obama look uneasy about taking tough stances, but it simply isn’t the case. The difference on this matter is one of timing. Obama hopes that using the United States’ clout as a hyperpower will pressure the Chinese into changing their behavior on Darfur and Tibet.

    Obama isn’t waiting for no reason: in that Times article he said that we ought to boycott “if the Chinese government did not take steps to help stop genocide in Darfur as well as improving human rights for the people of Tibet” (emphasis mine). In this view making a decision closer to the games will put even more pressure on China because it’s leaders won’t want it’s human rights abuses trumpeted before international media during one event the whole world watches.

    There is definite merit in Clinton’s case (why should we wait to condemn China when people are being killed right now?) but Obama’s view shouldn’t be dismissed as one made out of a fear to take a stand.

  2. Agreed however, “By saying we should wait until it gets closer to the games Sen. Obama risks looking like he is uneasy about taking stances on tough issues and acting boldly,” not everyone is as smart as you and I. However, if he isn’t in fact skirting the issue, this may end up being the better move for the issues (which is what really matters) and the worse move for his campaign in the short run. But, it could help him if he calls more attention to the issues right before the games, which is when it will really matter for his campaign, seeing as we all know he will get the nomination.

  3. Oh yeah, we’re in total agreement on that. It’s the same thing with the Pakistani thing from last year. When he said that his administration would strike at terrorists in Pakistan unilaterally everybody was screaming about how naive he was, and then six months later the Bush administration does it. And that is probably what will happen with this. He made a potentially unpopular decision with his comments today but when the time comes where we can look back it probably will have been the right one. But that’s just me, and we all know how in the tank I am for Obama.

  4. Yes, but at the same time, if more political leaders came out in favor of a boycott early on, China might realize that it has to do something about Tibet, Darfur, and other human rights in order to have a successful Olympics and would start taking actions on these problems sooner.

  5. That’s also true, and embracing Obama’s present policy might end up making us look hypocritical and unwilling to step up for human rights when our support is needed most. I would love to see that kind of unified action from the world community; right now I don’t know enough about where other countries stand to back that kind of plan over Obama’s right now. When it comes down to it, we ought to support whichever is most likely to put the most pressure on China to change, which is what I think Obama believes his current position, if followed, would do.

  6. I don’t see how his statement represents being “undecided.” It is completely consistent with his style of campaigning, and how he says he will govern: with open dialogue, not the bull-headed, alienating practices of the last 7 years.

    The goal here is to make life better for people in China. If we provide a path for China to do so, that is ideal. We should create incentive for them to clean up their act. But if we say, “Nope, we’re boycotting no matter what you do,” that’s just stupid.

  7. That makes sense. I suppose when I re-read the comment he puts more pressure on China than I initially sensed.

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