Tag Archives: SIS 628: Spring 2014

Safety at the Olympic Games

This is the link to a piece written by Micah Zenko, which appeared on the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) website. http://blogs.cfr.org/zenko/2014/01/26/why-the-u-s-and-russia-wont-cooperate-to-protect-the-sochi-games/

Zenko reveals the obstacles and lack of cooperation between the United States and Russia in ensuring safety and protection at the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, in the face of terrorist threats made by Chechen militant groups. The lack of cooperation between both nations stems from what Zenko describes as “the reciprocal distrust between Russia and U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence agencies.”

The article explains that Russia and the United States are both reluctant and unwilling to provide certain information or intelligence which could help stop terrorist attacks, such as jamming technology which would disable radio-signal car bombs, because both nations fear that any information they provide could be used against them by the other.   Clearly, this is an issue that policymakers on both sides need to consider and a greater level of cooperation must be reached in order to keep people safe.

In his second chapter, Pamment delves into the realm of public diplomacy by studying its historical role as well as its future in an age of globalization and interdependence among nations, transnational organizations, and other non-state actors. Pamment argues that cooperation amongst these entities is extremely important, particularly in the case of international security. He states: “Concerns to international security such as terrorism and climate change demand multilateral action through coalitions of like-minded nations and transnational groups” (p. 28).   

How should US policymakers proceed in ensuring the safety of Americans who will be in Sochi for the Olympics, without compromising vital intelligence? Americans, both athletes and tourists traveling to Russia, are encouraged to not display signs of being American (Olympians are told to not wear their US team jackets out in public, for example). What else has been put in place, or should be done, in order to ensure people’s safety? Should transnational organizations get involved in this issue, with the idea that safety and security are the quintessential elements to consider? I am interested to hear what you all think!