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Monday, April 8, 2013

North Korea’s Intimidation Strategy – Time for the U.S. to Get Some Headlines Too

Article first published as North Korea’s Intimidation Strategy – Time for the U.S. to Get Some Headlines Too on Blogcritics.

If you are like me, probably you wish to wake up one morning and not see or hear a story about North Korea; however, that seems unlikely to happen any time soon. Leader Kim Jung-Un and his spin masters have cleverly positioned themselves onto the front page and into the top stories on CNN and other TV news stations. We hear all about missiles that can reach the U.S. mainland, how Seoul will become a “sea of fire,” and basically that Kim is like a gunslinger with an itchy trigger finger.

Well, all of this has to reach a saturation point, but for now it seems to be working in North Korea’s favor in that it keeps the country in the news. Instead of being a small country on the periphery of importance, Kim has jettisoned himself into that dubious cast of characters on the world political stage that include Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

Now is the time for the U.S. to get some headlines of its own, and the way to do that is not to counter with defense systems being put in place, recalling our diplomats, and trying to sanction North Korea into compliance. None of these things are working with the volatile Kim, so it is time to take a different course of action.


The first and most crucial step Mr. Obama should make is to name Dennis Rodman, the former outlandish NBA star, as Ambassador to North Korea. I am completely serious on this issue, for Mr. Kim found a kindred spirit in Mr. Rodman (who said that Kim would be his "friend for life"). Mr. Kim’s love of basketball is an important link between him and America. Hitler liked King Kong, Saddam Hussein enjoyed American spirits, and Usama bin Laden apparently loved American reality TV shows, but no one ever tried to exploit those avenues in the past.
Naming Rodman ambassador will grab international attention and plenty of press; it will also signal to Mr. Kim that Mr. Obama is serious about connecting with him and working on a relationship based on respect. Mr. Kim seeks to be respected as a leader, so that will be accomplished with this move.

The next step is to get some NBA games to be played in Pyongyang, with Rodman and Kim on the sidelines. More press will follow and Rodman can work his magic on Kim, perhaps even present him with a series of gifts (like basketballs signed by Michael Jordan – a Kim hero) and ply him with some KFC.

The final step Mr. Obama should make is to offer to play a game of one-on-one with Mr. Kim. Can you imagine the headlines? Mr. Obama has some serious on court skills, but this is no time to showcase them. Mr. Obama has to do exactly what I do when I play games with my four year old – Obama has to let him win, but Kim can never know that (wink, wink).

Overall, some may dismiss this strategy as ridiculous, but I think it has an excellent chance to succeed. Mr. Kim will be able to tell all his friends, “I beat Obama! I beat Obama!” In such a simple but significant way, Obama will be the real winner, as will America and the world.

We have always heard that Fidel Castro wanted to be a major league baseball player, but he didn’t make it and we all know how that worked out. Mr. Kim could be emboldened by his defeat of Obama on the court, try out for the Lakers, and the wisest move would be to give him a job. Yes, that means he would be making headlines again, but the kind of which would be the best publicity for all parties.

Photo credits: north korea-cia.goc;kim & rodman-sportsgrid.com;obama-sportsillustrated.com

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