Quote Of The Day: Flamed Edition
SFO Airport Security Chief Mike McCaron
The torch arrived in San Francisco this morning at 4 a.m., and as of this moment, the Chinese are still pushing forward with their plans to hold a six-mile relay through a town well known for over-the-top protests.
It's nuts. China is losing massive prestige (Yay!) with each stop on the torch's way. They should just cancel the torch tour and run the thing around China, where state operatives can ensure that the throngs will at least appear enthusiastic -- especially if they cross Tibet off their list of torch venues.
Keeping the race going also hurts, in the short term at least, attempts to have effective dialog with Beijing because it forces the stubborn Chinese leadership into a hyper-defensive mode. Here's an AP squib on the subject:
Olympic organizers canceled the final leg of the Paris run Monday after demonstrators scaled the Eiffel Tower, grabbed for the flame and forced security officials to repeatedly snuff out the torch and transport it by bus. China condemned the protests as "despicable" but vowed to continue the relay to the end.Nonetheless, if the Chinese keep the torch going, the democratic, free world has no choice but to mark the occasion with demonstrations. I fear today's demonstrations in SF may be so far over the top as to actually tilt sympathy towards the Chinese, but in a free country, what can we do?
French President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters Tuesday it was sad spectacle, but that protests are normal in a democratic country.
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, a longtime human rights activist turned diplomat, said he understood the protesters, but said that France's goal of new talks between China and Tibetan leaders was dealt a setback.
"Yesterday, the answer moved farther away," Kouchner told reporters at a news conference. "Our answer — and we French do what we can — is a resumption of dialogue between the Chinese and the Dalai Lama."