Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman is on his way to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong Un. That’s good news for Kim, since he’s a fan. It’s also good news for fans of peace.
According to Bloomberg, the trip is going to be Rodman’s fifth to the country, and he has met Kim previously. Rodman is also personal friends with President Donald Trump, which could put him in a unique position to be a liaison.
Officially, Rodman is going as just a private citizen rather than as part of some formal diplomatic mission. And the experts consulted in the Bloomberg piece expressed doubt that Rodman is being used to establish a backchannel between Trump and Kim.
Even so, the development marks a rare spot of good news in a tense conflict that Trump has escalated considerably since taking office. While other issues have been dominating headlines lately, the relationship between Trump and Kim very nearly reached a boiling point earlier this year.
Rodman’s visit offers at least some chance at improving relations and moving the conflict further away from the oft-discussed military “solution”–which is almost certain to have disastrous consequences for all concerned, including civilians in North Korea and South Korea, and the roughly 30,000 US troops stationed on the peninsula.
As Sheldon Richman has persuasively argued, diplomacy is the only option in North Korea. Richman’s essay also shows that previous diplomatic efforts with North Korea actually produced useful results–until the US unilaterally sabotaged each one.
Now, it may be up to the eclectic Rodman–who was notoriously antagonistic and short-tempered in the NBA–to play the role of peacemaker and mark the first step back toward diplomacy.
But improbable as it sounds, it’s a positive development that any American will be meeting on friendly terms with the North Korean leader. Also positive, Rodman’s idea of a “bank shot” doesn’t involve regime change.