Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99


News Opinion

Terrorists threaten to crash Putin's party

Vladimir Putin wanted to bring the Olympics to Russia and he wanted them to take place in his favorite Black Searesort town, Sochi, even though it is not a locale that sees much, if any, snow and is situated dangerously close to a region roiling with rebels and terrorists who hate Putin.

Snow will not be a problem. Enough white stuff can be manufactured to cover a ski slope, if need be. But keeping terrorists from blowing up the Olympics is a bit more difficult.

A new video released by radical Islamist separatists in Russia's Dagestan region promises that attacks are coming. And even though every soldier and security agent in Mr. Putin's service seems to be lining up to create a "ring of steel" around the games, it appears would-be killers may have slipped through. There have been sightings of at least one so-called "white widow" suicide bomber in the center of Sochi. The woman is one of several female suspects whose husbands have been killed in the fight against Moscow's rule and now hope to get revenge by blowing themselves up in the middle of Mr. Putin's party.

President Obama and American security officials have offered to help the Russian authorities and two U.S. warships, along with transport aircraft, will be stationed nearby. But the Russians insist they have it handled. This is Mr. Putin's big show and the Russians are way too proud to accept help from their greatest rival.

The Olympics are tainted in many ways -- most of all by gross commercialization. Since the modern games began in 1896 with lofty hopes, they have not contributed much to peace in the world. In fact, the decades since have brought carnage on an industrial scale in two world wars and many smaller ones. Still, every two years they deliver wonderful stories of human triumph and resilience and give us the pleasant illusion that perhaps one day we may all finally learn to get along.

It would be tragic if the Olympics are disrupted and defiled by the sick terrorist pathology that runs wild in the world, but that is the permanently hovering shadow of our era. And when the games become the plaything of an iron-fisted authoritarian like Vladimir Putin, it makes them an irresistible target.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey is a political commentator for the Los Angeles Times. Go tolatimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/ to see more of his work.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Reclaim Freddie Gray
    Reclaim Freddie Gray

    Our hearts go out to the family of Freddie Gray, who not only had to bury a loved one today but also to cope with the violence that raged across the streets of West Baltimore in the hours that followed his funeral. The scenes that played out on the streets — teens throwing rocks and bricks, setting...

  • Baltimore's real, untelevised revolution
    Baltimore's real, untelevised revolution

    "The revolution will not be televised."

  • Putting Freddie Gray in context
    Putting Freddie Gray in context

    It pains me to see the tortured faces of peaceful protesters mourning the loss of another community member to the unreasonable force of police officers. I am further disturbed to see people with sympathies scattered across a wide spectrum, from supporting the protesters to defending the police...

  • Freddie Gray's legacy [Poll]
    Freddie Gray's legacy [Poll]
  • Why Freddie Gray ran
    Why Freddie Gray ran

    We don't need four investigations to answer what may be the most consequential questions posed by the events leading up to Freddie Gray's death: Why did police approach him on April 12, why did he run, and why did they chase him? The outcome of that encounter was a tragic injustice of the sort...

  • Charges in Freddie Gray's death [Poll]
    Charges in Freddie Gray's death [Poll]