In defense of Dennis Rodman — what if basketball diplomacy works?
In the news: Hall of Fame player Dennis Rodman played an exhibition game with 10 retired professional basketball players against a team of North Korean nationalists in North Korea. Rodman, who is by no means a diplomat or even a sane person, was absolutely hammered in the media over his “friendship” with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
It’s pretty easy to make jokes about Rodman. We all saw the photos of him in a wedding dress promoting himself. We all have seen him on reality television. OK, he’s an easy target to make jokes about.
However, what if? What if this is the door that opens actual diplomatic relations with North Korea?
People are starving in North Korea under a 27 year old Communist dictator, Kim Jung Un, who just killed his own uncle to consolidate power. Kim Jong Un is continuing the awful legacy of his father Kim Jong IL, or as Bill Maher called him, Lil’ Kim. People are dying, the North Korean economy is non-functional, and the only way Kim Jong Un can try to barely feed his people is to threaten the world with nuclear warfare.
Kim Jong Un is a crazy person who can annihilate 100,000 people in under a second by the touch of a button.
Crazy attracts crazy — the Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un dynamic seems to thrive on a foundation of cuckoo.
All of this said and yet I wonder if the universe is directing Rodman to possibly open up a diplomatic relationship with North Korea. It has worked before and perhaps we are too young to remember the last time this worked.
Look at the 1960s. A little something like a ping pong match opened up a dialogue between peoples and nations. Before you know it, Nixon goes to China and the rest is history. Ping-pong diplomacy.
Is China some sort of wonderful place? No. However, is China an important economic partner to the United States? Absolutely. We now have a partnership with China that keeps our economy going. China is oppressive but their brand of Capitalism baffles our captains of industry to a point where we say “Why can’t we be them?”
More importantly, we avoided a Cold War with China through this economic partnership and sidestepped the nonsense we engaged with the Soviet Union.
Granted, North Korea isn’t on the same scale and power of China. We will never have an influx of North Korean goods or have North Korea buy our treasury bonds. Diplomacy with North Korea is important simply for the fact that North Korea has the bomb.
Why do you think neo-conservatives go crazy over Iran so much? If Iran has a nuclear warhead, you have to negotiate with them — plain and simple. You can’t just invade them and push them around like Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan. A nuclear weapon is an auto-deterrent against foreign invasion. People have to listen to your pleas and demands when you have the power to unleash a nuclear holocaust.
Dennis Rodman isn’t Jimmy Carter or Winston Churchill. Dennis Rodman isn’t even Hillary Rodham Clinton (clever word play is why they pay me the big bucks at iPinion). However, what Rodman can provide is an opportunity no matter how small it looks. North Korea is a horribly oppressed country with hundreds of thousands of starving people. If a basketball game of NBA has-beens gets the door open — let them play basketball.