Thomas P.M. Barnett (Scripps Howard News Service)- What Beijing Olympics Tells [sic] Us About Our WorldReturning to the global stage after its "century of humiliation" and the tortuous insanities of Mao Zedong's long rule, China naturally views the Games as its coming-out party. To that end, Beijing seeks to control every possible aspect, seeking to burnish the image of the "China model."[...]But the harsh costs of China's model are also inescapably put on display -- to wit, Beijing's now-legendary smog. The Communist Party wants the world to focus on medals hanging around the necks of Chinese athletes, but the Games' dominant image will undoubtedly be the pollution-filtering masks attached to many competitors' faces.
[...]Beijing's frantic attempts to manipulate the weather for smog-clearing rain speak to a wider human hubris: that we can easily engineer our way out of the problems associated with global climate change. Again, the biggest social trade-offs are inherently political questions, not simple equations for unelected technocrats to solve one afternoon sitting around a table -- no matter how supreme their mandate seems.
P.S. Tom also really, really likes "Mad Men" - the cable series, not Ahmadinejad and Kim.