Bill and Eric’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure
Why are Bill Richardson and Eric Schmidt visiting North Korea?
10:31 AM, Jan 7, 2013 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
It would seem, at this point, that former U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson probably has a vacation home in Pyongyang. He’s visited Stalinist North Korea more than a half a dozen times, and has often boasted of his close relationship with “the North Koreans.” (Presumably, he means “the North Korean regime,” as it’s highly doubtful that the portly former New Mexico governor has had many dealings with the starving, oppressed North Korean people.) So it’s not altogether surprising that Richardson arrived, once again, in Pyongyang last night, openly defying the wishes of the State Department, who declared his visit “[not] particularly helpful.”
What some might find surprising is Richardson’s travel companion on this particular jaunt: He’s being joined by Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google. Richardson and Schmidt are said to be in North Korea to meet with “economic and political leaders,” and to visit several universities. The two have been tight-lipped about why exactly they are visiting the country, though Richardson has said that Schmidt is “interested in some of the economic issues there, the social media aspect.” Ah, yes, an important problem facing a country that can’t feed its citizens is a lack of Google Plus profiles.
Whatever their motives, there’s something more than a little unseemly about Richardson and Schmidt’s visit. The Kim regime just defied the United Nations by firing off yet another rocket. The North Korean people are systematically denied even the most basic of human rights. Hundreds of thousands continue to languish in gulags. Why would the chairman of a company whose motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” hobnob with a regime that embodies evil itself?