A half dozen or so years ago, during the debate over which city should host the 2008 Olympics, I was against China getting it, for all the reasons being bandied about today—lack of free speech, lack of democracy, oppression of Tibet, and air pollution. If the Chinese government wanted the Olympics so much, then they should be withheld until such time as they've earned them as a reward for their progress.
But, the Olympics were promised to Beijing, anyway, and the Chinese have since spent vast amounts of money getting ready for them. They haven't improved on freedom, democracy, or Tibet, but they haven't gotten worse, either. They've lived up their end of the bargain, such as it was.
Yet, now, enlightened opinion wants to punish China's Olympics for all the same sins China was committing back when it was handed the Olympics in the first place. All the evidence suggests that this moral grandstanding by Westerners would just infuriate the Chinese people, who are always looking for reasons to be angry at the round eyes, and strengthen the Beijing government's grip.
The runner-up city for hosting the 2008 Olympics was Paris. I blogged back in 2002:
Yet, just because French anti-Americanism is not our fault doesn't mean it's not our problem. We should be looking for low-cost ways to placate France's wounded amour-propre. Backing Paris over Beijing for the 2008 Olympics would have been an easy one. I mean, Paris would have been a fantastic place to attend the Olympics, while Beijing's air pollution is horrendous. It was a no-brainer, but we blew it.
Sure, afterwards the French would have bragged about how much better Paris was as the site of the Olympics compared to Atlanta in 1996 (which, no doubt, would have been true), but, so what? If we are going to be the sole superpower and "provide the world with adult supervision," as one of my readers says, then we've got to grow up. Sure, it would be fun to appoint Jonah Goldberg ambassador to France, but if we are going to be the global hegemon, we've got to avoid juvenile p-ssing wars with our lackeys.