This week bore witness to a variety of global crises, some brewing, others resolved. Even so, their urgency was punctuated by heavy-hitting players and high-friction plays.
Murder, enslavement, torture, rape, and enforced disappearance are just a few of the "unspeakable atrocities" cataloged in an unprecedented U.N. report on North Korea. In short, you can control 25 million people if you kill, maim and imprison enough of them. And if your neighbor, in this case China, cuts off escape routes.
Public criticism of its human rights record by international bodies, such as the United Nations, and individual states, such as the Unite States, usually causes North Korea to deny it, then fume, and then continue or escalate the abusive practices just to spite the international community.
Early last year, I was being interviewed regarding my book on Kim Jong Il. At one point, the host referred to Kim Jong Il as a "campy" figure. "That's a very unfortunate choice of words," I told her. Her mortification was immediate and apparent.
Just as the seemingly impregnable Honecker regime rapidly disintegrated along with the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the Kim dynasty in North Korea has been expected to collapse at any minute. This minute, of course, has lasted for more than two decades.
It is clear that under the shade of America's security umbrella in the Middle East, Koreans have been making strong inroads. Are there ways in which the United States, as a partner of Korea, might seek to benefit from those inroads, whether on the ground or over the airwaves?
We are an America that, right now, is reluctant to fully embrace a world leadership role, but not quite ready to abandon it. We're far from isolationist, but we're not that interested in policing the world either.
I worried that we were going to slide into deeper economic turmoil and perhaps even violence. I feared that our division was aiding a gradual slide into plutocracy -- governance by the elite, the super wealthy. In other words, we were being divided and conquered.
Ironically, the exaggeration of Jang Seong-taek's power and influence by the foreign media might have been a contributing factor in his downfall.
While America's regenerative capacity has thus far allowed it to offset underperforming governance, hoping or trusting that it'll do so indefinitely doesn't seem like a smart bet. Nor will avowing its exceptionalism address its systemic challenges.
Considering the culture and political atmosphere of North Korea, we need to ask: How could we even start to break the impasse with North Korea? There are several ideas.
Dennis Rodman's sycophantic behavior toward and glowing testimonials for Korean dictator Kim Jong Un likely combine narrow self-interest with willful ...
While making Secret State of North Korea for the investigative journalism series FRONTLINE, we found a group of defectors who are risking their lives once again to fight back against the regime of Kim Jong-un.
Whether through intent or accident, Rodman stumbled onto the harsh political fact that at times when belligerent nations are at seemingly hopeless loggerheads, an offbeat jaunt from a non-political personage may actually do some good.
Who had the worse week, Chris Christie or Dennis Rodman? Take our Week to Week news quiz and see how much you know about the week's ups and downs.
The world is a lot smaller today. Tibet is no longer a distant dreamland, the Amazon is a plane ride away. Trying to find a unique vacation spot is a ...