The Winter Olympics are currently being held in Beijing, China. They give us two more examples of the reason that international organizations are far too often ineffective, or even negligent, in addressing problems.

There are all sorts of international organizations that are supposed to coordinate various things and are also supposed to help confront countries when they break international rules or laws, or in more serious cases when they endanger lives or their neighbors. Too often, this never happens. The Beijing Olympics have shown us that, most recently over the weekend.

Russian skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for a banned substance. Over the weekend, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided that it would not strip the Russian team of the gold medal that it has already won in women’s skating and would also allow Valieva to compete in the individual women’s competition to be held in the next few days. The reason it gave was that Valieva is a minor and so cannot be held accountable.

This comes after Russia was found to have a coordinated program to help its Olympic athletes with doping and the use of performance enhancing substances after the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, which it hosted.  The IOC was totally ineffective in its response to that government sponsored abuse, as well.  Basically, it simply said that Russia could not fly its flag in the next Olympics, but all the athletes from Russia were allowed to compete with a team named “Russian Olympic Committee”.  A whole country had a program to cheat and the response was “well, you can’t use your flag in the next Olympics”?

Of course, there are more significant international issues that cheating in sports, even in the current Olympics. China has been persecuting its Uyghur minority population and several organizations have confirmed reports of mass deportation to labor camps (estimated at one million people), forced sterilization of numbers of Uyghur women and forced re-education (reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution). Yet, despite the fact that every year on Holocaust Remembrance Day we say “Never again!”, the world has done basically nothing and is looking the other way while China is using the Olympics as a propaganda tool.  And, in a related observation, all of those companies that were upset about Georgia’s voting laws last year and moved business out of Georgia…isn’t it amazing (or shocking, actually) how many of them do not have a problem with genocide in China?

The list could go on about the ineffectiveness of relying on international organizations to confront aggression or human rights abuses (Cuba, China and Russia sit on the UN Human Rights Commission, for example) but the list would go on almost infinitely. That is why, though coordination with other nations who hold similar values is always good, nothing can take the place of a strong nation who will stand on values and lead the world.  

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