Friday, March 1, 2013

Why Rodman’s Trip (to north Korea) Isn’t Ping Pong Diplomacy

Yes I would think that a debriefing of Rodman by State Department officials would be quite entertaining.  Interesting how the commentators in the article subtly put the blame on the US government for the behavior of the Kim Family Regime.  Sure the US could initiate dialogue and openings (as it has) it could propose normalcy (which it has stated it is willing to do).  The US has continually reduced its military presence since 1978 to include withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons.  It has provided aid (heavy fuel oil, food, etc).  It has paid a heavy ransom to recover remains of US personnel.  It has removed north Korea from the terrorist list.  And what has the regime done?  It has continued to conduct provocations and blackmail diplomacy while committing arguably some of the worst human rights violations and crimes against humanity in history against its own people.  And of course the ROK government gave the north 10 years of the Sunshine policy and what did north Korea do?  How many provocations?  How many naval battles in the Northwest Islands?  

It is fashionable to blame the US for the north's intransigence perhaps but the facts are that the ROK and the US have provided plenty of opportunity for the north to act responsibility and it has not done so.  

So yes, I do not think it is the north that is ready for ping pong or basketball diplomacy. And I think it will be very telling how the propagandists spin this for internal and external political consumption.  The regime is not that hard to figure out because it has been very consistent for six decades and Kim Jong-un is not deviating from the strategic playbook – new tactics and approaches, yet, but not a new strategy.  Dennis Rodman has done more to prop up the internal legitimacy of the regime than he has contributed to any kind of potential diplomacy.  He has been used and duped.  But of course we live in a free country which includes the freedom to be stupid (and to act stupidly).
By Jonathan DeHart

March 1, 2013

The bizarre, media-crazed “diplomatic” mission to North Korea by Dennis Rodman and three fellow Harlem Globetrotters has become more interesting by the day. Since arriving in Pyongyang, the emissaries have wandered well beyond the confines of the basketball court and received a highly controlled tour of North Korea’s offerings.

The visitors have rambled from state monuments and towers in central Pyongyang to the palace that is the resting place of Kim and Kim Jong Il, where North Korean state media reported that Rodman paid “high tribute.”

Rodman and Kim Jong Un sat side-by-side to watch Globetrotters and North Korean players compete on mixed teams. In photos taken during the match by VICE Media, Rodman is seen fully pierced, wearing a dark suit and sunglasses, while Kim, decked out in a blue Mao suit, sits beside him slapping his hands on the table and laughing. A can of Coca Cola prominently sits in front of Rodman on the table.

The Globetrotters delighted the audience, which “was really engaged, laughed at all of the Globetrotters’ antics and actually got super loud toward the end as the score got close,” said VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy who donned a blue “United States of America” uniform. “Most fun I’ve had in a while.”

The Americans gifted Kim with a Globetrotters uniform and the game ended in a 110-110 tie. “You have a friend for life,” Rodman reportedly told Kim in a speech to a crowd that numbered in the tens of thousands after the game.

The fun culminated at Kim Jong Un’s palace where Rodman, the Globetrotters and the VICE Media crew filming the spectacle for HBO, wined and dined on a spread that included smoked turkey and sushi. Multiple toasts were made. (Meanwhile, two-thirds of North Koreans survive on meager government handouts, with some resorting to eating grass and field mice.)
(Continued at the link below)

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