Senator Ben Cardin on Russian Corruption In The Washington Post, Senator Ben Cardin recalls the story of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian whistleblower who was arrested by those he accused, kept in "torturous" conditions, and denied healthcare as he died in isolation. The Russian government has admitted these facts, but those involved in the scandal remain in positions of power. The United States should take whatever steps possible to hold these Russians accountable, Cardin says. Magnitsky's case is just one of many examples of gross corruption in Russia and elsewhere. "The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which I co-sponsored along with 20 other senators, is a broad human rights bill that would invoke a travel ban against serious violators of human rights, freeze any U.S. assets they may possess and publish their names--a powerful deterrent for those craving respectability and legitimacy in the West." Such a measure will send an important signal both to the corrupt and to those who fight against them, and may protect American companies working in Russia. Cardin supports President Obama's efforts to warm U.S.-Russian relations but says that only through liberalizing policies can Russia really develop. Encouraging such priorities is especially important in a year that will see elections in both Russia and the United States, Cardin concludes.
David Clay Large on Hitler's Olympics The international community has long remembered the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which supposedly "tamed the Nazi regime, if only temporarily--a story that has since justified awarding the Games to places like Soviet Moscow, Beijing and Sochi, Russia, host of the 2014 Winter Olympics." But writing 75 years to the month after those games in The New York Times, author David Clay Large cautions against the myth that politically controversial Olympic hosts will change their ways. "While it's clear that the Games failed to "open up' the Third Reich, it remains widely believed that, to placate visitors, Hitler's government cut back its persecution of Jews during the summer--in other words, that the Games achieved some of what the committee promised." In fact, the Nazis only limited persecution in Berlin itself. And while many believe the performances by Jesse Owens and other African-Americans forced many to rethink their white supremacist views, in fact Germans (and Americans) just tweaked them. "While certain 'inherited physical advantages' might make blacks good sprinters and jumpers, the thinking went, they could never compete successfully with whites in disciplines requiring strategy, teamwork or stamina." Again in Beijing, it remains unconvincing to say that awarding them the games caused any long-term loosening of their human rights abuses. Large doesn't argue we should hold the Games only in politically "clean" countries but that we "should use it as an opportunity to hold [controversial nations] to the values that the Olympics claim to represent."