So Long To Sochi; Hello To Putin

The 2014 Winter Olympics are over now and I for one feel a twinge of sadness. Or perhaps nostalgia. Or is it just sentiment. It’s hard to put my finger on it but I enjoyed the games, at least some of them – and I’ll miss them. They are historic, and maybe that’s part of my feeling too. Maybe I’m just a traditionalist. Russia can take pride in the overall presentation of the games. Even the minor flaw of the fifth Olympic ring not functioning properly during the opening ceremonies, described by one media source as a “five ring circus,” should not detract from this conclusion. Interestingly, Russia tried to poke fun at itself by staging a temporary fifth ring failure during the closing ceremony, having the fifth ring remain unopened for a few beats before the dancers which formed it spread out to make the fifth ring.

Russia spent $51 billion dollars on the extravaganza, a huge sum no doubt. Whatever part of this was spent on security was money well spent. Happily, there were no terrorist incidents. But whether the same result will come to pass in four years when the next games will be in Pyeongchang, South Korea, only time will tell. The games will be right next door to one of the modern homes of terror, impoverished North Korea. This is where terror king Kim Jong Un, holds sway. He should be dubbed “Bugsy,” because the murderous actions of this psychotic, cold blooded commie dictator, who is nothing more than a street thug, resemble those of the notorious gangster, infamous mob killer Bugsy Siegel. It will be an embarrassment to him to see those games proceed without incident, with all of their attendant glory, excitement, and economic benefits, right next door to him. You can make book on it. Hopefully I’m wrong. We’ll see.

I didn’t enjoy all of the games. I can do without the tobogganing and “halfpiping.” But the downhill skiing and ice dancing were well worth watching. In particular, it was hard to contain the excitement over the superb skating of the team of Charlie White and Meryl Davis, skating to the music of the timeless classic, “Scheherazade.” This team justifiably won gold. And although Gracie Gold, the prettiest skater of them all, did not medal individually, her team won bronze. I was disappointed that men’s hockey lost out to Canada, which ultimately took the gold. And although the women’s team captured silver, it disappointingly didn’t hold up at the end, blowing a two goal lead with four minutes to play and losing in overtime to Canada. I was also disappointed that the USA didn’t garner top spot in total medals, that honor going to host Russia, but I take some solace from the fact that the U.S. still holds the lead in total medals won over the years. Also, the total of 28 was the most won by the U.S. at a winter games outside of North America.

On a political note, now that the games are over, it remains to be seen whether the Kremlin will question the authority of the Ukraine’s interim government, as the country struggles to create an identity. I wonder if Russian President Putin will try to strong arm the Ukraine to stay away from the West. Some meddling by him will be expected now that there is nothing going on in Sochi to distract him. His success in taking the initiative from President Obama over the issue of how to deal with Syria’s chemical weapons will undoubtedly provide some encouragement.

Russia’s staging of a surprise combat readiness exercise for 150,000 troops, ordered by Putin and ongoing as I write this blog, some stationed about 200 miles from the Ukraine border, can be seen as nothing less than a blatant attempt to intimidate that struggling country, now in the throes of a political vacuum without its elected president, who has fled the scene, to remain in Russia’s orbit and not to flee to the embrace of the West. Putin also may well have a hand in the unrest in the Crimea. The timidity of President Obama and the EU in dealing with him may presage more interference, directly and overtly, by the authoritarian Russian president in the Ukraine’s affairs.

Copyright©2014. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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