2018 Winter Olympics held in Korea under shadow of war
13 February 2018
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games opened in South Korea last Friday under the official theme of “peace,” with a ceremony that included a choreographed candlelight depiction of a white dove and a rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, declared that it would send a “powerful message of peace to the world.”
Bach noted, with no apparent sense of irony, that the 2016 Olympics had officially provided a “message of hope” to refugees, in a year that ended with more than 5,000 refugees drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean, with many thousands more since.
This year’s bromides should be taken no more seriously. The reality is that not since the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany have the games been held under such an immediate threat of war. Overshadowing the events in South Korea is the real possibility that the United States will launch a “bloody nose” strike on North Korean military facilities in the immediate aftermath of the games, which could trigger a nuclear conflagration and lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not tens of millions, on the Korean Peninsula.
The Trump administration has made clear that it will allow no let-up in its insistence that Pyongyang unconditionally submit to US demands for an end to its nuclear weapons program or face military action. The decision for the North and South to compete on the same Olympic team—though welcomed by millions throughout the region in the hope that it might signal a lessening of tensions—was met with unconcealed hostility by the Trump administration.
This was epitomized by Vice President Mike Pence’s arrogant display at the opening ceremony,…