What follows is just my whole train of thought on this Bahrain topic.
On culpability (for want of a better word):
I agree with Eric that the teams are just as "dirty" in this kind of thing as everyone else, if anyone is dirty at all (and I don't think you can say that anybody is just considering the money aspect, as the race did get cancelled last year). On the other hand, although the teams do have their role in communicating with the FIA in discussing whether the event happens, really it is the FIA's role to decide the safety of an event. The teams shouldn't have to boycott a race or anything like that, the governing body should always be in control of whether an event runs or not. That fact doesn't clean the teams' hands completely
from a moral point of view (if you want to bring a moral argument), but it does to a point because from a practical POV it simply shouldn't be up to them to make a decision on whether an event runs; that's why you have a governing body.
On complex issues in general:
I agree that it is a complex, difficult decision and none of us here have a full understanding of all the facts and issues. So what? That doesn't mean you can't get some grasp
of the situation even from a position of ignorance. We all do this on different things all of the time so why not do it here? You don't need to experience everything first hand before you can have any opinion on it. It's okay to discuss it as long as we accept that we can be wrong and we don't know it all, which I for one accept. But it's no good to say "I can't make any judgement whatsoever here, it's just all too complex for me, therefore I won't bother to think about it at all". That's at best lazy and at worst intellectually dishonest. Also, although situations like this are complicated and sensitive, it does not mean every decision is equally good or bad. In any case we are not the ones deciding so our low level of knowledge matches our low level of authority, anyhow
On what's actually happening there and the decision:
What we know: Human rights abuses are going on, certainly. Some level of protests is going on, but it's unclear how severe and on what scale (some say "my neighbourhood is oh so peaceful, I love Bahrain!
*whispers* Is the King still behind me?
", other people seem to have had the less peaceful experience of being shot). Protesters say they will attack/disrupt the race weekend. The race is considered a symbol of the State. Plenty of independent people/organisations said that F1 shouldn't go there. That must all be given some weight. Some others said they should go (and some of those were even credible and independent such as the Lotus team's inspection), so that has to be given weight too. Clearly, there's a debate to be had, and the hope is that the FIA looked at credible, independent sources here and came to a reasonable decision. The worry is that they didn't (certainly they cited some odd sources this year and last year), or they didn't consider the possibility of the situation escalating even further when F1 arrives there. Whatever the case, excuse me if I don't have a massive amount of faith in the FIA's ability to judge this, considering how close they are to Bahrain's leadership. I certainly don't rely on Bernie to judge it, either, for much the same reasons.
But, we'll ultimately only know when we go there what impact the race has. If the race comes under any difficulties then you would certainly be able to say "F1 was warned about going there". Would it surprise anybody to see someone invade the track or disrupt a team/a team member somehow during the weekend? It would not surprise me at all, and that is not something you can say about any other GP at the moment. Before anybody even bothers replying to that with the stock response: That is not to say it couldn't happen at another GP, you can get some lunatic or idiot anywhere, but nowhere other than Bahrain has the obvious threat of protests with a clear political agenda. That's the major difference between it and other GP's; other countries all have their political and human rights problems to one extent or another, but not where the State is so closely involved with F1 and such an obvious platform for attention and focus for disapproval. This isn't the moral argument I'm looking at: using that you could make a case against every race/country. This is the safety/smooth running of the event argument.
On Ecclestone's crappy defence:
Another point is those who say that even if F1 didn't go there, then protests would still happen and people would not all of a sudden have all the human rights they wanted, and in that case, we might as well go anyway (Ecclestone's line of argument). This misses the point, imo, and nobody opposed to the GP is saying that anyway! That argument just doesn't work, it effectively says "well bad things would still happen on some level even if we took a cautious, logical approach to this and didn't go, so let's just not bother with that and go anyway", ignoring all of the extra problems that F1 going there creates on top of the existing ones! The argument is not that "F1 is bad for Bahrain" it is that Bahrain is bad for F1, from a safety POV first and foremost, and then you can get into the moral, PR, whatever else you have. I'm not saying that line of reasoning ("oh it'll be bad no matter what") is why the FIA/Bernie/Teams are going, just pointing out it's irrelevance, as it doesn't actually support going to Bahrain or anywhere else you encountered this kind of problem.
On watching the race:
I'll be watching the race, if it happens. Does that mean I support the race happening? Well I suppose in a sense
you can't avoid the fact that it does mean I support the race. But I wonder what "supporting the race" actually means? Does it mean that I support F1 in Bahrain? Well, I have no issue with F1 in Bahrain as a concept, why would I? Does it mean I support the FIA's decision to hold this particular GP? No, not necessarily, and this comes back to the "position of ignorance". It means that I accept
the decision of the FIA/everyone else to have the race, knowing that they should in theory have more facts and apparently access to first hand accounts from the country, and hoping that they would have made a reasonable decision. I accept it in the same way I accept any other race from the FIA, whether I like the track or not, and hoping that the FIA has ensured the safety of everybody. I watch all of those races I don't like as much, yet I wouldn't say I supported them in the sense I wanted them to happen. Maybe it is more accurate to say, if we are talking from a financial perspective, that by watching Bahrain I'll be supporting the race and F1 as a series. Well, I don't see too much of an issue there. I like F1 so I'm happy to be counted as a viewer, and as for Bahrain I don't suppose it makes any difference whatsoever to them either way if people watch or not, as long as the show goes on.
What watching the race certainly doesn't mean: that you support human rights abuses or anything like that. Not even close. And now Bernie's argument actually becomes more useful: whether the race happens or not, those things will still happen. The point is, F1 is not encouraging human rights abuses or resulting in more abuse by being there, it is merely being used as a figure for a regime which wants to appear normal. More than that, going there although being potentially dangerous one way or another for F1, is probably better for the protesters if they are able to make some kind of hopefully non-violent impact on the race. Again, bad for F1, good for Bahrain whether it's the leaders or the protesters (and that just depends on who is better organised, equipped, whatever).
I don't know. I'm not saying they shouldn't go. I think they could have cancelled it and nobody would have been too bothered except the Crown Prince, etc. If they go ahead, they leave themselves open to a lot of criticism and maybe much worse, so I hope they got it right.