The Clown As Diplomat

You have almost certainly read about North Korea’s latest hysterical rhetoric following the UN’s threat to order new sanctions against the country for its recent underground nuclear test. As ABC News reported recently:

North Korea has responded to fresh UN sanctions by threatening to attack the US and escalate tensions with the South. But experts believe that the aggressive rhetoric has also been sparked by changing regional dynamics and hopes of rallying the people around their new leader.

North Korea will “mercilessly” drive the American aggressors into the sea, “miserably destroy” US units stationed in South Korea and transform Seoul into a “nuclear sea of fire.” With phrases like these, North Korean leaders have repeatedly threatened to have their “heroic army” — driven by their superior ideology and love for their supreme leader — annihilate the enemy.

ABC goes on to provide three reasons why “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong Un has resorted to these tactics at this time. To begin with, they claim, there is the rampant paranoia that permeates that part of the world which is convinced the rest of the world hates them, and with good reason. (Need I remind you that just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you?)

Secondly, North Korea is very good at blaming others for their own shortcomings — you know, just like the rest of us. They are having serious problems feeding their starving populations while spending millions on developing nuclear weapons and they would prefer it if their people direct their anger elsewhere. This is quite plausible and even sounds a bit familiar, eh?

And the final reason given by ABC is that nearby countries, such as South Korea, Japan, and China have new leaders and John Kerry is the new Secretary of State for the United States and North Korea is keen to test their mettle. We have heard this sort of saber-rattling for some time from North Korea and there will certainly be some sort of actual venting of frustration; the world waits to see what it will be with baited breath.  Probably not a “preemptive nuclear strike” against the United States as threatened by Kim Jong Un. I seem to recall their recent attempt to get a rocket airborne failed miserably.

Anyway, I think there might be another reason for the saber-rattling that ABC has overlooked: Dennis Rodman. The truly odd former NBA basketball player recently returned from North Korea and publicly declared himself to be BFFs with Kim Jong Un. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Rodman appeared in garish garb with all his piercings and tattoos on display where he said that all President Obama has to do is pick up the phone and call the North Korean dictator and all will be hunky-dory. I call it “clown diplomacy,” and I dare say the State Department had never considered it before — though it doesn’t seem to have worked.

But it may be part of the reason North Korea has decided it is time to rattle its sabers. The North Korean Dictator obviously doesn’t feel about Rodman the way Rodman feels about him. He’s probably thinking, “If Rodman is the best the West can come up then we know two things: (1) Americans are nothing more than barbarians, and therefore (2) they really shouldn’t be taken seriously.” But whatever the explanation for North Korea’s latest outbursts, we wait with the rest of the world to see what Dennis Rodman’s new best friend will decide to do to assert himself. I don’t think we should plan to use Rodman as a shield, however, appealing as that notion might be.

11 thoughts on “The Clown As Diplomat

  1. Chavez, Castro, North Korea’s Kims, Ahmadjenidad, Milosovic, Qadafi … these pesky and unstable leaders of second-tier countries have caused the world more headaches the past 15 years than anyone. Rodman is probably the best suited guy to deal with them. He’s actually pretty intelligent, but in terms of the clownish approach, he’s right there with those leaders. Sometimes, I wonder why China doesn’t simply annex North Korea and put an end to this silliness. It’s no longer 1953, China is a key global economic player and I don’t think the U.S. (and probably even Russia) would mind anymore — it’d be worth the stability, and it isn’t exactly like an imperial land grab. China already props up the North with food and weapons, but even China is not happy that the Kims keep messing with everyone’s peace of mind. Not to mention the millions who have starved there.

    • The Rodman I heard interviewed on ABC was not someone I would call “pretty intelligent.” But you are right about China taking North Korea over: it makes sense — which is why it probably will never happen!


  2. saber rattling; i liked that term! maybe some faux voodoo while rattling that amulet would psyche them more than reality… my mind then runs with sadistic things one could say would happen to that person if the spell is hurled on him!.. “This spell is not to harm anyone unless he/she/they bring harm on us.. and if that happens you’ll experience….”

  3. Rodman and intelligence is an oxymoran. For him to return to the US and claim Kim as his new BFF, and that he is a stable leader reaching out to the US proves the point.

  4. What did Judy Collins sing….”send in the clowns……don’t bother they’re here.” I think that losing Russia as a supporter and China’s unequivical support after they did the nuclear test over China’s objections are two big factors. But, I think the huge success going on South Korea has to have a lot to do with it, as SK shows what a more open market system can create. Good post. BTG

  5. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

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