Responses to my personal mailbox are running 3-1 in support of my commentary on Bloomberg that the New York Philharmonic’s visit to North Korea is morally and culturally unacceptable. That’s high, but not overwhelmingly so.
There is, if course, considerable substance to the opposing case – that is is usually better to make jaw-jaw than war-war, and that the way to unfreeze tensions is not by hiding behind high walls of political preconception.
It seems to me, none the less, that there are two disabling flaws to the cultural diplomacy argument. The first is to apply it to Hitler’s Germany. Would a 1938 trip by the NY Phil have averted WW 2 and the Holocaust?
In Pyongyang, New York’s finest will be entertaining seasoned killers who, contrite today, may kill again tomorrow – if only by picking up the phone to Teheran and having another quiet swap of nuclear know-how.
The second qualm relates to consumption. Every calorie eaten, every bath taken, every light switched on by the 130 New York musicians and their entourage of 150 handlers and journalists is one kilojule of energy, one tub of water, one volt of energy stolen from a population that has been systematically starved by its unrepentant government. Playing a symphony concert to the Beloved Kim gives nothing back to his malnourished nation.