Dennis Rodman a diplomat only from his perspective

It is funny that Dennis Rodman has become a spokesperson for diplomacy between the United States and North Korea. Because, let’s face it, Rodman is the only person who truly sees himself as the diplomat in the situation.

Rodman first visited the isolated country in February 2013 because of its supreme leader, Kim Jong Un, and his strong interest in basketball. 

Note that Rodman was brought to North Korea solely because he is a basketball player meant to serve Kim Jong Un’s entertainment interests. He was not brought to North Korea as a diplomat.

According to Rodman, he has created “basketball diplomacy” to encourage President Barack Obama to reach out to Kim Jong Un since both of them are basketball fans. 

The White House denies approval of Rodman’s role as a diplomat between the United States and North Korea most likely because of differing values between the two governments.  

Even without the support of his government, Rodman developed a close relationship with Kim Jong Un. According to NBC, Rodman sang “Happy Birthday” to his “best friend” at Un’s birthday celebration earlier this month. Rodman then played in a basketball game between American players and North Korean players during the celebration. 

A diplomat singing happy birthday to a dictator without the support of his own country? Now that’s ironic.

Rodman does not have the credentials to be a diplomat between the United States and North Korea. Rodman is most famous for his time playing for the Chicago Bulls, but he has no history in diplomacy.

This makes Rodman an ordinary citizen. Yes, he is a celebrity in America, and now in North Korea, but that does not qualify him to speak on behalf of the United States government.

His sub-par qualifications have not stopped him from trying. For example, he has tip-toed the line of arguments about American Kenneth Bae’s detainment in North Korea. Bae was accused of attempting to overthrow the North Korean government and was detained and later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Some argue Rodman should use his position as a connection to North Korea to help release Bae.

That is not what has happened.

In Rodman’s most recent trip, he claimed that there must have been a just reason why Bae was detained. This comment angered many of Bae’s American supporters, but Rodman said his comment was a result of the pressure he was under while in North Korea.

So what was Rodman’s solution to his mistake? He checked into rehab when he returned to the United States.

He has acted without the support of his government to build a relationship with a country that has limited ties with the rest of the world. He spoke his mind, even though what he said was controversial.

It is hard for U.S. citizens to imagine a government like North Korea’s when the U.S. was founded on principles of free speech and the right to protest the government. 

Rodman is a U.S. citizen who has had a first-hand look at North Korea, a country that is severely isolated from the rest of the world, yet he has no more experience than any other ordinary citizen at mending such a strained relationship.

In the eyes of Rodman, the friendship is meant to be diplomatic between the two countries. However, the friendship acts as insight into how different the two countries actually are.

What is even more ironic is that the friendship that is meant to be diplomatic has not improved diplomatic relations.

Rodman is now a celebrity after his back-and-forth trips between the U.S. and North Korea that have been glamorized widely by the media. What little light Rodman did shine on the situation in North Korea now seems extinct since his stint in rehab.

Until a legitimate U.S. diplomat is sent to North Korea, Rodman’s attempts at diplomacy will only discredit future attempts made by the U.S.

Choosing a legitimate diplomat is in the best interest of our country and its citizens. Rodman should realize the same.

Rebecca is a junior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]