Dennis Rodman Does Diplomacy (Not Really)

I try to be open minded but must we envision basket’ball’s bad boy Dennis Rodman as global diplomat? Knowing what a media seeker he is, this feels much less weighty. Indeed, Secretary of State John Kerry indicated that Rodman ” was “a great basketball player, and as a diplomat, he was a great basketball player.”

Turns out this was more of a stunt than anything substantive–get in an be known for something more:

Mr. Smith described his staff’s chats about the trip: “We said to ourselves, ‘Well, if we go through normal channels, it’s almost impossible to get in. But what if we put together a sort of exhibition basketball team to go over there?’ ” It has been called “basketball diplomacy” in the press since Mr. Rodman and company arrived — “and that was the actual idea,” Mr. Smith added.

via Dennis Rodman in North Korea, With Vice Media as Ringleader –

But Ian Crouch hits the right point in noting that this is a one-time tv moment that masks a deep horror and sadness–the true misery of the North Korean people–or a “dystopia”:

The response to Rodman’s trip also seems connected to a larger, more troubling phenomenon, which is the persistent strain in the popular imagination that there is something simply funny about North Korea itself. The country’s secrecy, its technological backwardness, its ham-fisted and anachronistic public pageantry, and the Kim regime’s well-documented eccentricity all add up to a subject for which the Onion headlines write themselves. When the most you know about a country’s leader is that he was a fanatical devotee of Michael Jackson, and the most you know about his son is that he loves basketball, then it is easy to look for the next joke in the news that trickles across that country’s borders. So last week, there was a sense that North Korea and Rodman, two versions of strange and damaging excess, somehow deserved each other. There are, of course, twenty-five million or so North Korean citizens who may disagree. Leave it to Gawker, which illustrated a post on the trip with photographs of North Korean famine victims, to remind us of the moral questions posed by Rodman’s goofy escapade. The world has turned on its head: dystopia, indeed.

via The Sporting Scene | The New Yorker




4 thoughts on “Dennis Rodman Does Diplomacy (Not Really)”

  1. I find it increasingly more interesting that in the world today, if someone becomes an authority in one area, they can be seen as an authority in all areas. It is a shame that the majority of people in the world will be persuaded by others not because of expertise or even eloquence, but rather basic emotional connection. This makes me think that children everywhere are being emotionally starved because of poor parenting. Perhaps if countries emphasized the importance of family relations, less people could think more clearly with their mind and less with their feelings.

  2. I’m going to piggyback on robert’s comment above. When i first heard about Dennis Rodman going to North Korea I literally thought it was a joke and laughed when my roommate told me until I realized that he was serious. I agree wholeheartedly that it is very sad to see people being persuaded by people just because of an emotional connection. I do believe that is a definite bonus to have when meeting in matters of diplomacy, but ever so often decisions made solely on emotions are the wrong decisions. It is also sad that we tend to view North Korea as that crazy country with that extremely eccentric leader. We often forget about the atrocities that occur there and how much the people held captive in that country suffer.

  3. Apparently, Rodman feels the need to rub shoulders with world leaders. He is currently flying to Rome in hopes of meeting the new pope. He further continued that he is going to return to North Korea in August to spend some vacation time with Kim Jong-un. Rodman stated, “I want to be anywhere in the world that I’m needed … I want to spread a message of peace and love throughout the world.”

    An NBA commissioner spoke out against Rodman stating, “I think it’s ridiculous. I think that if you’re going to meet someone with the record on human rights, and nuclear testing in a reckless way, counterfeiting U.S. dollars, and exporting a horrible brand of whatever it is that he’s exporting, starving his people, and locking them up, it should be done only in conjunction with the State Department with an agenda. If not, you shouldn’t go.”

    Perhaps, instead of really “prompting love and peace” Rodman is using stunt journalism to garner attention. He is never going to help solve problems related to non-proliferation, disarmament, illicit trade, or commissions on human rights.


  4. This was just a grimace worthy move by both parties. Rodman and Kim are both kind of delusional. Did Rodman really think he was doing something smart/would bring him positive publicity? Did Kim really think this former basketball player could help improve his image at all? In my Poli Sci 170 class, Professor Cooper mentioned that one way to strengthen your ability to use deterrence was to have people think you were crazy enough to launch a nuclear attack. Well, Kim definitely has that going for him.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s