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Monday, 4 March 2013

Dennis Rodman & US Diplomacy

The blog has tried as much as possible to desist from commenting on Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea. But here we are.

As the new secretary of state, John Kerry, made his first Middle East tour since resuming office, Dennis Rodman, 51 (above) became the first American to publicly meet with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, 28, since he took over from his late dad, Kim Jong il, in 2011. The US don't have diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Americans and indeed many around the world went ballistic on learning about the former NBA star's trip. George Stephnapoulos, a TV presenter, called Kim; a mysterious and a dangerous man. Kim Jong Un, doesn't have the cleanest records, especially on the issue of human rights. He still sees over the prison camps, Gulags, that has about 200,000 inmates. The regime have been accused of starving its people to death. He had also called for the extinction of the United States, via its nuclear programs.

On the whole, who is really clean? America is bedeviled with issue of secret renditions and torture is often celebrated. The appalling and secret use of drones in Pakistan and 11 other countries raises eyebrows. The country has about 7.2 million people within its correctional supervision , the highest in the world (with the highest amount of executions).

Han.S. Park, a professor of international relations at the University of Georgia, pointed out that the young Kim does not really rule the country but was selected by the communist politburo. Also, the political culture would need to be understood, to grasp why you have Kim as a puppet. On the issue of the Gulags, just like Guantanamo, those prisons are a manifestation of threats to national security. But this time from South Korea and Japan, who are supported by the US. Prof. Park, reckons that the concept of national security is the biggest threat to peace.

To explain is not to excuse, but these things need to understood.


Diplomacy and indeed soft power, has never been the strength of the United States, probably due to its huge industrial military complex. According to Mr Rodman, the North Korean leader, had a message for Mr Obama; call him & he don't want war, Rodman said. The White House does not seem to have taken this serious. The truth is that dialogue is always the best.

The US and world could cut through the baggage of Mr Rodman's looks, maybe with the way he sounds and listen to what he says not how he says. What this trip has shown is that diplomatic charm has its strengths. But real diplomacy is not always naive, as many skeptics reckon, but deft. If Burma can loosen up, why not North Korea.  If a call will save 30 million people, this blog can pay for it and even a text.