Rodman Goes to North Korea, Cavorts With Assad’s WMD Supplier
Dennis Rodman’s visit to North Korea serve’s Pyongyang’s interests on multiple levels.
For starters it gives a chance to poke the U.S. in the eye, coming just days after the North Koreans canceled a visit by U.S.’ Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights, Robert King who was seeking Bae’s release.
Why bother with a faceless bureaucrat, when you the can get face time with a sports icon?
So whatever the outcome of Rodman’s latest foray in basketball diplomacy, he continues to help Kim project the image of a hip leader who, just like other young people the world over, loves basketball and music.
But beware Dennis. Kim can be a very harsh cultural critic, and is known to turn on his friends. Witness the reported fate of Hyon Song Wol. Leader Kim’s ex-girlfriend, and fellow band members were recently machine-gunned in front of their families. Among the mini-skirted singer’s alleged crimes was possession of bibles.
Most importantly Rodman’s visit deflects unwanted attention from the regime’s longstanding nuclear R&D and sales of tons of poison gas to clients like, Syria.
That’s right. Bashar Assad is able to gas his own citizens and threaten to take the entire region into Armageddon with his massive stockpile of WMDs because of Pyongyang’s enthusiastic assistance.
A few months ago some were shocked by reports that Jong-un distributed copies of Mein Kampf as birthday presents to his country’s elite. In fact there are chilling parallels to Nazi Germany. As associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an NGO devoted to imparting the lessons of the Holocaust, and as Vice Chair of the North Korean Freedom Coalition, I was so appalled by reports that innocent people were being murdered in gas chambers sixty years after Auschwitz, that I traveled to Seoul to personally debrief three North Korean defectors who reportedly admitted involvement in such activities
I will never forget the anguish of one defector who described how he supervised the killing of parents and their child in a glass-encased chamber. Shocking details of how long the agony went on and the efforts of doomed parents to breathe air into the lungs of their dying child, were duly written down and forwarded for analysis to those in charge of the production and upgrade of poison gas exports for clients like Syria’s Assad. The youngest defector described to me how WMD-linked experiments were carried out on live specimens-animal and human. The oldest of the three was more interested in touting his near-perfect forged $100 U.S. bills. As for using human guinea pigs in gas chambers: “Those (political) prisoners were as good as dead anyway,” he shrugged.
For decades, North Korea has been the most controlled society and its regime among the most repressive. Taking a page from Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, Pyongyang maintains a Gulag — a series of punitive forced labor camps, where as many as 200,000 ‘enemies of the state’ languish, accused of criminal activity or merely of having the wrong neighbor or parent. The few escapees from the camps testify to a world where inmates have virtually no rights, no knowledge of the outside world, and little hope of getting out. Nuclear families are difficult to maintain and some escapees describe a system where the jailers choose which inmates can co-habitat and when or if they can have children who then also live in captivity.
Add in to this mix, North Korea’s menacing launching of missiles towards its Asian neighbors. The Japanese are so deeply worried by the threats that they are mulling changing their constitution and rearming to meet the growing threat from Pyongyang.
Instead of pointing an accusatory finger at a youthful megalomaniac who abuses his own people and bullies his neighbors , Dennis Rodman continues to pile up those photo ops with this century’s funny little dictator.
It would all be so funny if it wasn’t so damned dangerous.
Rabbi Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Vice Chair of the Washington-based North Korean Freedom Coalition.
This article was originally published by Forbes.