Eccentric former NBA player Dennis Rodman just completed another trip to North Korea, visiting once again with his “friend for life” Kim Jong Un . Rodman arrived in Beijing with rather unkind things to say about President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton; however, the flamboyant Rodman had only good things to say about the North Korean dictator.
On the surface this may seem like another grandstand by Rodman, but looking deeper into the situation we must consider that Kim Jong Un – one serious basketball fan – sees Rodman as some sort of deity who has descended from the hoops mountaintop. There is no denying that they have formed some sort of friendship, and considering the alternative of war, President Obama would do well to cultivate whatever seeds Rodman has planted in the soil of that austere nation.
Some people were hoping this trip would provide an opportunity to free jailed U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae, who was charged with “hostile acts” against North Korea. Rodman came off the plane in Beijing with no answers about Bae’s situation, telling reporters to ask Obama and Clinton. He did share photos of the North Korean leader and him. He also let it be known that the leader enjoyed drinking with him, especially Rodman’s new Bad Boy vodka. One can only wonder what these two said as the drinks were flowing, but it seems all is very amicable between them.
Rodman did tell reporters that he and Kim Jong Un talked about “peace and sports,” which is infinitely better than talking about topics like nukes and war. Whatever the unlikely pair sees in each other notwithstanding, it seems that Rodman has found a way to approach North Korea that President Obama should consider as a hopeful sign for future engagement.
Now that Rodman is out of North Korea, the president would be wise to use him in the latest crisis – as an ambassador of goodwill to Damascus. We don’t know if Syrian leader Bashar al Assad likes basketball, but we can imagine that Rodman could work his “magic” on the leader. After all, it seems that Rodman is adept at dealing with so called despots or dictators. If he can extend an olive branch to Kim Jong Un, why not try it with Assad? If we can get some kind of basketball diplomacy program going, think how much that could assist us in hot spots all over the world.
It would be much better to be shooting basketballs in North Korea and Syria instead of bombs. Rodman is a resource that Mr. Obama should tap as soon as possible. Maybe after a few shots of Bad Boy vodka, Assad and Rodman will be bosom buddies and drunk dial Kim Jong Un or maybe even get him on his iPhone for a little Face Time. This unlikely triumvirate could decide to get a basketball league going – the Axis of Evil Tour – with eyes on Tehran as Rodman’s next stop.
President Obama is facing opposition for his plan to attack Syria from world leaders, Congress, and the American people. The “go it alone” mentality, which Secretary of State John Kerry has hinted at as a possibility, would be a bad choice for Mr. Obama. The days when the U.S.A. takes on issues that are world problems should be over. There is no reason for us to bomb a foreign country that is engaged in a civil war. Imagine if the Russians, French, and British had decided to bomb New York, Boston, and Washington during the American Civil War – we would have seen that as foreign interference in a domestic situation. We should also respect that the same holds true here and back off from any kind of military strike.
Much more amenable, and with a possibility of being a great deal more effective, is to find diplomatic and peaceful means of reaching guys like Assad and Un. Dennis Rodman has proven that he can hold his own with a “dictator” and come away smiling, and apparently leaving positivity in his wake. Any way we can promote peace is a start, and Rodman seems to have the secret to reaching those whom we have deemed as remote and anti-American.
Can you just imagine Rodman holding court with Assad, Un, and new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani? Perhaps they can play cards, pass around the vodka, and share a few laughs. Rodman could open the doors to a whole new type of foreign policy – one that replaces speak softly and carry a big stick with yell loudly and bring lots of booze. Anything has to be better than our present course of action that always seems to result in loss of American lives and treasure.
John Lennon once wrote “Give peace a chance.” In keeping with that philosophy, Mr. Obama should give Dennis Rodman a chance. Like Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, his approach may be our only hope for a peaceful outcome in Syria and other places in the world.
Photo credits: rodman-tvrage.com, straightfromthehea.com, ifoodtv.com; with Kim – washingtonpost.com