This past August John Bolton took to the Wall Street Journal to explain Pyongyang’s upper hand in the feckless diplomacy addressing its weapons of mass destruction. Soon thereafter signs began to appear that the Bush administration was dedicating diplomatic efforts to send the New York Philharmonic to North Korea. Reading the tea leaves, Terry Teachout wondered:
What would you have thought if Franklin Roosevelt had encouraged the Philharmonic to accept an official invitation to play in Berlin in the spring of 1939? Do you think such a concert would have softened the hearts of the Nazis, any more than Jesse Owens’s victories in the 1936 Olympics changed their minds about racial equality? Or inspired the German people to rise up and revolt against Adolf Hilter? Or saved a single Jewish life?
Teachout counseled that the Philharmonic and the Bush administration “would do well to ponder these questions before consenting to put America’s oldest orchestra at the service of the man who turned off all the lights in North Korea.” Teachout to the contrary notwithstanding, today’s New York Times reports that the Philharmonic will play in North Korea in February.
Having failed to rein in North Korea’s nuclear program, Bush administration diplomats now work to serenade a madman. Reflecting the deep thought underlying American diplomacy, Donald Kirk pronounces it a triumph. Perhaps the Philharmonic string section can take a shot at getting us word on the North Korean contribution to the Syrian installation that the Israelis destroyed in September.
With apologies to Matt Dennis and Tom Adair for the heading.
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