Is Dennis Rodman the Key to Avoiding Nuclear War with North Korea?
There’s only one person in the world who claims to be friends with both Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. His name is Dennis Rodman.
Yes, somehow the 56-year-old former bad boy of basketball, a man known for crazy colored hair, multiple piercings, and bizarre antics (such as marrying himself), is at the center of one of the most volatile situations of our time.
As North Korea continues to threaten the Western world with nuclear war, Rodman is one of the few people who boasts a direct line of contact with its tyrannical ruler. Read on to see how this improbable friendship happened and how it may even help to defuse tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world in the future.
1. A match made in North Korea
Rodman first met Kim Jong Un during a trip to North Korea in 2013. Kim invited Rodman, along with a group of journalists from Vice, because of his love for 1990s basketball during the era of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. While Rodman is more well-known for his tabloid stunts, he is also considered one of the best defensive players of the time.
2. The most unlikely friendship
At the time, the proposition seemed comical — what could a deranged former basketball star have in common with the supreme leader of North Korea? As it turns out, plenty.
While the media wrote off his 2013 visit as a one-time publicity stunt, Rodman proved them wrong by declaring Kim a “friend for life” and making subsequent trips back to visit in the coming years. Rodman says, “[Kim and I] ride horses, we hang out, we go skiing, we hardly ever talk politics and that’s the good thing.”
3. A strange ambassador is better than no ambassador
North Korea expert Ken Gause said of Rodman to Time, “He’s not the best ambassador we could have but it’s who we have.” Rodman is known for being impulsive, volatile, and unpredictable. Any successful diplomat should be the exact opposite of that, right?
But even skeptics have to admit that his lunacy is part of the reason he’s so good at relating to Kim, whose irrationality is the stuff of legend. He’s been able to cultivate a years-long friendship with a man whose affection can turn on a dime and whose ire leads to former friends and confidants getting thrown in prison. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened yet with Rodman, which proves he must have figured out a way to get through to Kim.
Maybe in the case of Rodman and Kim, it takes one to know one.
4. Rodman is also Trump’s former ‘Apprentice’
But Rodman isn’t just bending the ear of North Korea’s Supreme Leader — he also has close ties to President Donald Trump. A former contestant on Celebrity Apprentice (who Trump fired for spelling Melania’s name incorrectly), he told Good Morning Britain that he considers both Trump and Kim Jong Un “good friends.”
5. Trusting Rodman is risky
In August, Trump cautioned that North Korea’s nuclear threats would warrant a response full of “fire and fury.” Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un continues to promise equal destruction, including a “sea of fire” and a “thermonuclear war.”
Critics worry that Dennis Rodman isn’t smart enough or skilled enough to negotiate peace between these two men who aren’t known for listening to reason. And it definitely matters when the stakes are so high. Should the fate of the world rest in the Dennis Rodman’s hands? Probably not.
6. Then again, it just might be crazy enough to work
The most dangerous thing about the situation between North Korea and the United States is the complete unpredictability of both their leaders. While so far rationality and reasoning has done little to soothe tempers, it could be time for a new tactic.
Rodman believes that he has the answer. During an interview, he offered to be the one to “straighten things out” between Trump and Kim. And though a truce spurred by an unbalanced former basketball player seems incredibly unlikely, it’s no more improbable than a TV personality becoming president. In other words — it’s worth a shot.
7. All we can do is hope for the best
In 2013, Trump voiced his support for Rodman’s visit to North Korea, saying, “You look at the world, the world is blowing up around us. Maybe Dennis is a lot better than what we have.”
And he may have point. While Rodman was criticized for his negative remarks against imprisoned American missionary Kenneth Bae, the publicity put the situation in the public eye, and Bae claims the remarks indirectly led to his eventual release.
Maybe Rodman has more of a plan than the public gives him credit for. After all, Trump also said in 2013, “It’s amazing how sharp and smart [he is]. Dennis is not a stupid guy. He’s smart in many ways; he’s very street-wise.”
In the end, crazy as it sounds, we should not overlook Dennis Rodman as a key asset for dealing with North Korea.
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