Ambassador Rodman fouls out
As a professional basketball player, Dennis Rodman was a prolific rebounder.
As an amateur diplomat, he’s a misinformed blunderer.
And while Mr. Rodman’s farcical foray to North Korea last week was amusing in a twisted way, that offbeat comic relief remains overshadowed by these harrowing realities:
North Korea’s Stalinist regime has had nuclear weapons for at least six years. Three months ago, after two decades of embarrassing failures in missile tests, North Korea conducted a missile launch that demonstrated considerable progress on that technological front. Last month, North Korea tested its smallest nuclear weapon yet as it persists in trying to produce a warhead small enough to be transported by a missile.
And throughout this long, reckless pursuit of a devastating arsenal that would menace not just South Korea but Japan and perhaps even the United States, the despotic dynasty has inflicted cruel abuse on North Koreans — including widespread starvation.
North Korea’s leaders have even diverted international food aid donated for their oppressed people by selling on the world market.
So when Mr. Rodman returned from North Korea expressing his “love” for dictator Kim Jung Un, he committed an appalling turnover of reason.
Mr. Rodman, aka “The Worm,” stuck up for Kim, aka “The Great Successor,” again Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Pressed by host George Stephanopoulos about Kim’s abhorrent record, Mr. Rodman replied that “now, one thing, the kid is only 28 years old.”
Actually, “the kid” who follows in his grandfather and father’s tyrannical footsteps turned 30 in January.
Mr. Rodman, who hung out with Kim while conducting a basketball camp in Pyongyang, called him “just a great guy” who does “not want to do war.”
That prompted Mr. Stephanopoulos to fairly ask: “A great guy who puts 200,000 people in prison camps?”
Mr. Rodman replied: “Well, you know, guess what, it’s amazing how we do the same thing here.”
No, what’s amazing is that Mr. Rodman, who became an off-court celebrity thanks to his bizarre hair colors, body jewelry, wardrobe and lifestyle, has now served as an intermediary of sorts between Kim and President Barack Obama.
On “This Week,” he conveyed this message from Kim: “He wants Obama to do one thing — call him.”
Touting Kim’s enthusiasm for the game, Mr. Rodman added:
“Obama loves basketball. Let’s start there, all right?”
No, let’s start with White House spokesman Jay Carney’s appropriately negative reaction Monday to the galling Rodman-Kim give-and-go play:
“Instead of spending money on celebrity sporting events to entertain the elites of that country, the North Korean regime should focus on the well-being of its own people, who have been starved, imprisoned and denied their human rights.”
Let’s also keep trying to organize an international full-court press (including China) to minimize the threats North Korea poses to world peace — and to its long-suffering populace.
And let’s find a better unofficial American ambassador to that benighted realm.