Sunday, July 15, 2012

Defending...Jimmy Carter?

Jimmy Carter POTUS 39

The London 2012 Olympics are almost upon us.  In the glossy Ultimate 2012 Olympic Guide (MagBook edited by Stuart Messham and unaffiliated with the IOC) -- on sale in newsstands everywhere, I read with some astonishment the following account of the 1980 Moscow Olympics...

                                                                 1980 Moscow (USSR)

Pre-Viagra Olympics Logo
"Only 80 nations competed in Moscow, the lowest since 1956.  This was largely because of American president Jimmy Carter's protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  He threatened to revoke the passport of any American athlete who attended the games and forcibly cajoled weaker nations into following his lead.  In all, 65 nations turned down their invitations, 80% as a result of Carter's persuasions."

Reading this I suddenly felt, for the first time in my life, sorry for and defensive of Jimmy Carter!  He may have been a shockingly incompetent president on many levels, but does he deserve this?  Carter had the temerity to presume that winning the cold war was more important than adding to the American Olympic medal count.  That bully Carter would deny the rights of athletes to compete in their sports simply because Soviet helicopter gunships were slaughtering Afghans by the thousands.

One may put this kind of lame journalese down to the reflexively anti-American attitudes that so many people around the world seem sadly to have adopted.  John Burdett's Sonchai Jitpleeceep (see earlier post, John Burdett's Vulture Peak, 7/12/12), for example, seems always to be encountering arrogant, stupid and vulgar Americans.

Soviet athletes in Afghanistan
The American-led boycott of the 1980 Olympics marked the end of detente.  Their was bipartisan support for the boycott with both Carter and his 1980 opponent, Ronald Reagan, favoring the boycott.  The US House of Representatives voted 386 to 12 to support Carter's boycott of the games.

The USA was NOT, in fact, the first country to announce a boycott of the 1980 games.  Saudi Arabia, protesting Soviet invasion of Islamic land, announced that it would pull all its athletes out the the games on 1/17/80 BEFORE Carter's announcement at his state of the union address on 1/23/80.

Consider a little thought experiment which may put things into perspective...

If David Cameron's UK were today to launch an unprovoked full-scale invasion of the Republic of Ireland do you think that some nations might  think twice about sending their athletes to London this summer?  In this highly unlikely scenario, would any boycotting country be "largely" to blame for spoiling the games or would we, more properly, hold "those bloodthirsty Brits" responsible?

Some would point out that the Soviet Union retaliated boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.  It is true that 14 Eastern Bloc countries including Cuba, the Soviet Union and East Germany stayed away from the Olympics in 1984.   A record 140 nations did, however, compete in the 1984 games which were accounted a success in contrast to the abject failure of the 1980 Moscow games.  The 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles were a propaganda triumph for freedom and western-style capitalism over the brutish Soviet imperialists.

Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935 using poison gas sprayed from the air in a campaign that would cost about 1 million lives; the world failed to react and the fascists were reassured that the west was decadent and complaisant.  A failure to act by Carter in 1980 would have smacked of appeasement.

Carter's boycott was a measured non-violent response to naked Soviet aggression in Afghanistan.  It expressed the free world's extreme displeasure with the USSR without needless bloodshed.  Soviet actions would have consequences.  Carter also deserves enormous credit for brokering a lasting mid-east peace between Israel and Egypt.

Go Team USA!

Carter passed the Olympic torch, so to speak, to Reagan, who led the West to to peaceful victory in the cold war.

It is 2012 and we are surely in the heart of the "silly" season in terms of electoral politics in the USA.  If you are tired of cheap shots and inane "my guy is better than your guy" comparisons in your e-mail in-box, on television, etc. then you are not alone.  Commander Kelly stands with you.  The amazing Miracle on Ice (see video below) which took place at the Lake Placid winter Olympics on February 22, 1980 is the best reminder I can think of that, when it comes right down to it, we are all Americans.  Much of rest of the world seems to consider us to be boobs and bullies regardless of our particular political affiliation, so we might as we unite for a few weeks at least and say, "Go USA!"

Commander Kelly, reaching across the aisle, says that "Jimmy Carter acted courageously and appropriately in boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics.  Good luck to all members of Team USA in London!"

Miracle on Ice

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's first book, America Invades or on

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