“Today in the Senate, I met with Senators Jon Kyl and Mark Kirk. The meeting is very useful because it shows that the alternative to Barack Obama is a collapse of all the programs of cooperation with Russia. Today, I had the impression that I was transported in a time machine back several decades, and in front of me sat two monsters of the Cold War, who looked at me not through pupils, but targeting sights.”—Russia’s ambassador to NATO is none too pleased with US conservatives. Wait till you see what one of those conservatives said in response.
The response to Rodman’s trip also seems connected to a larger, more troubling phenomenon, which is the persistent strain in the popular imagination that there is something simply funny about North Korea itself. The country’s secrecy, its technological backwardness, its ham-fisted and anachronistic public pageantry, and the Kim regime’s well-documented eccentricity all add up to a subject for which the Onion headlines write themselves. When the most you know about a country’s leader is that he was a fanatical devotee of Michael Jackson, and the most you know about his son is that he loves basketball, then it is easy to look for the next joke in the news that trickles across that country’s borders. So last week, there was a sense that North Korea and Rodman, two versions of strange and damaging excess, somehow deserved each other. There are, of course, twenty-five million or so North Korean citizens who may disagree. Leave it to Gawker, which illustrated a post on the trip with photographs of North Korean famine victims, to remind us of the moral questions posed by Rodman’s goofy escapade. The world has turned on its head: dystopia, indeed.
Ian Crouch on Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea as the guest of honor of Kim Jong-un: http://nyr.kr/Z2Msnf
Photograph by Jason Mojica/VICE/AP
Wherever common ground can be,
Whenever opinions clash:
Expect always to concede,
Or else be rather rash.
For where all parties understand
The secret of concession,
There the future is secure;
Safe beyond regression.
So let bygones and has-beens be,
And look not to cast past blame:
For only he who would not compromise with me
Is worthy of the same.
Russia to U.S.: You ban our people for corruption? We'll ban yours.
- tit On Friday, the U.S. government announced that they would enforce visa bans on 18 Russian officials who were tied to the arrest and death of corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in prison after reportedly being denied medical coverage. The U.S., in making the announcement, claimed it was merely “complying with its legislative requirements.”
- tat On Saturday, the Russian government did almost exactly the same thing to the U.S., placing visa bans 18 officials, some of whom were tied to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, the Bush administration, or with harsh interrogation techniques, including Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, David Addington. source