Monday, August 11, 2008

Ekecheria: The Olympic Truce

Even as the festival of peace and good will which is the Olympics begins we are forced to bare witness to the horrors of modern warfare. As Micheal Philips charges towards new world records and the nation of Korea raises towards the top of the medal count we are confronted by the horrors of modern warfare. The Republic of Georgia, a former satellite state of the soviet union, is being overrun by Russian armored divisions and now lies on the brink of total collapse. Russia has unleashed Armour, Air, Espionage, and computer age warfare on Georgia in such away as to bring back to life the fears and anxieties of the cold war. It was not so long ago that the Russians poured troops and Armour into another not so distant nation.

In Afghanistan the soviets struck out to expand there empire through a well timed and strikingly unopposed invasion of a sovereign neighbor. As we speak the invasion of Georgia goes unopposed but in words. Instead of the Olympics supporting the cause of world peace it seems to have allowed world leaders like our own president to take the weekend off and turn their backs on the Russians violent assault on a sovereign nation. It seems that not only is China hiding behind the Olympics but now so is Russia, the U.N., and N.A.T.O. Now I would never support a Olympics Boycott but more must be done to shed light on the actions of world Governments.

In the ninth century when the original Olympics where being held in ancient Greece all of the city states of Greece signed a truce. The Olympic Games truce, or ekecheiria, forbid warfare among Greek states, armies entering Olympia, and the use of the death penalty. It extended protections to all athletes, their families, and fans to allow them safe passage to the games and returning home after their completion. The Greek historian Thucydides tell us the truce was seldom broken. Upon the one instance it was broken, by the Spartans who where then forbidden from attending the games and find a large sum of money for assaulting the city of Lepreum.

Now I am not suggesting that we should banish the Russians from the games. But with the re-introduction of the Olympic truce over the last few years by the I.O.C. it seems prudent that this truce be enforced. The Russian athletes of course should in no way be punish for the actions of their government, but the Russian government should beheld responsible for breaking the Olympic truce. Many would argue that the Olympics should not be allowed to be used for what may seem to at first a political purpose. It is the clear mission of the I.O.C. to protect its athletes and further the cause of world peace.

As such the Russians invasion of Georgia has not only violated the the truces by waging war but they have endangered the athletes and families representing the Republic of Georgia. These athletes are no longer able to travel safely from the game to there homeland. This is the greatest violation of the truce imaginable and Russia deserves to be held responsible for there actions not only by the I.O.C. but also by the international community as a whole. As a global community we must hold all accountable for there action or forgo any hope of world peace.

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