Slave to the Blog: Myanmar, Race, Good Peoples’ Goings and Possible Comings, and Ping Pong



When we last checked in on Myanmar, the government was promising to disassociate itself with North Korea once it had paid for those surface-to-air missiles but the US Treasury was placing Lieutenant General Thein Htay, the head of Myanmar’s Directorate of Defense Industries (DDI), on its sanctions list for alleged arms deals with the DPRK. This week ran a piece by Jeffrey Lewis and Catherine Dill which claims that DDI’s involvement with North Korea is actually deepening, suggesting DDI involvement with both the production of missile parts, and chemical weapons as well. Myanmar is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention which would make it a convenient location for production. In addition to its own stockpiles, North Korea has been alleged to supply chemicals to Syria for use by the Assad regime in that country’s civil war.

My original Race Week post prediction that “serious” (or maybe I should say “non-serious”) Washington would try to explain away North Korea’s racist ravings has proved sadly accurate. Soon after the post had gone up I attended a Washington DPRK-related event. A former US intel analyst was doing his damnedest to explain it all away. One of the other participants pointed out that the North Korean Foreign Ministry had released a statement that day justifying the abuse—which sort of, well like, completely, destroys the notion of plausible deniability. Dead silence. Guess said former analyst hadn’t read the newspaper that day?

In the wake of Monkeygate some have wondered what Kim Jong-un makes of Dennis Rodman. (Exotic court jester is my guess.) But for some insight turn to Vin Baker (I never thought that I would write that line), Circus Rodman fellow traveler, who describes his meeting with Kim Jong-un as “eerie.”

Comings and Goings: One Woman Wrecking Crew (and from me that’s a term of endearment) Suzanne Scholte has won the Republican Party nomination to take on incumbent Democrat Gerry Connolly in November. One would have to give Connolly the edge of incumbency but it is not an entirely safe seat, and I would never, ever make the mistake of underestimating Suzanne. Just ask the North Koreans.

And while Suzanne may be moving into the public sector, British diplomat Martin Uden has stepped down as head of the UN Experts Committee on North Korean sanctions. Presumably he did his job too well.

I normally shy away from the North-Korea-as-freak-show stories, but this account of the 1979 World Ping Pong Championship held in Pyongyang is both weird and good.

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