Former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman is attempting to serve as an intermediary between President Obama and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, perhaps complicating the State Department’s refusal to condemn his trip on the basis that he went as a “private” citizen.
“He wants Obama to do one thing: Call him,” Rodman said of Kim Jong Un during an appearance on ABC. “He said, ‘If you can, Dennis – I don’t want [to] do war. I don’t want to do war.’ He said that to me.”
The State Department is keeping its distance. “Mr. Rodman does not represent the United States; he’s never been a player in our diplomacy,” spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters. “We just don’t take a position on private American travel other than to refer people to our country-specific information which you can see on the internet . . . we’re a free country. This is not something that we advise on.”
When former Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., and Google’s Eric Schmidt traveled to North Korea in January, the State Department was more outspoken.
“Frankly, we don’t think the timing of this is particularly helpful, but they are private citizens and they are making their own decisions,” Victoria Nuland told reporters.
Ventrell also said that they don’t plan to ask Rodman about his trip.”We haven’t been in touch with this traveling party at any point along in the process,” he said. “They haven’t been in touch with us. And so we don’t have any plans in that regard.”
Steve Ganyard, a former deputy assistant secretary of state, said that’s a mistake. “There is nobody at the CIA who can tell you more personally about Kim Jong Un than Dennis Rodman, and that in itself is scary,” Ganyard said on ABC.