OK, so the 2008 Olympics were supposed to be China's big "coming out" party. Twenty-five plus years of nearly double digit economic growth has made the Chinese a lot wealthier than they used to be. The Olympics provided a venue for demonstrating their cumulative success -- even if it is merely an inch deep.
Now, thanks to an increasingly horrifying war, Russia has spoiled China's party. Much worldwide media attention, which from China's perspective should be devoted to coverage of their Games, is now going to Russia and its war in South Ossetia and elsewhere in Georgia.
NBC will also like suffer as they committed $850 million to broadcast the games. NBC won't have all that much airtime to show war footage and will likey lose eyeballs to other 24 hour news stations.
The battle for "prestige politics" is thus between Russia (and its presumed allies in CNN/Fox/BBC) and China (with its NBC allies). China's moves are all played out in advance (the TV schedules were announced weeks ago), but Russia has a lot of latitude to make news.
Already, various parties are throwing around the terms "genocide" and "terrorist" to describe events on the ground.
What are you going to watch? Terrorism, or volleyball? (Well, maybe you'd say "volleyball," with the visuals in that story).
Genocide, or synchronized swimming?
By the way, my Duck of Minerva colleagues Dan Nexon and Charli Carpenter are doing a great job discussing the war (see also this and this, for other good perspectives on the conflict).
Note 1/4/12: Edited to remove a direct photo link at a reader's request.
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