From Atlanta with love

Christian Whiton Fmr. State Dept Sr. Advisor
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Earlier this week, shortly after North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il died, Jimmy Carter sent Kim Jong-il’s son, Kim Jong-un, a letter expressing his condolences. This is my best guess of what one of Carter’s letters to Kim Jong-un would look like:

From the desk of President Jimmy Carter

Atlanta, Georgia

My Beloved Kim Jong-un,

I wanted to be sure you received the tidings I sent over the death of your great father, Kim Jong-il. I pray that you have not fallen into a state of malaise over the death of North Korea’s “Dear Leader,” with whom I met and corresponded so very many times.

You know, when I sent you my condolences the other day, I had in mind one of my own relatives, also snatched by the Almighty all too early. My beloved brother Billy, inventor of Billy Beer™, passed at the tender age of 51. He was a bit of drinker himself, just like your daddy, and well fed too. Although I must say he never set a nationwide record for cognac consumption as far as I know. I guess your daddy was extra special.

You know, I not only spent time with your daddy, but also your granddaddy too. We agreed back in 1994 that your country would end its nuclear research program. Sure you guys built the bomb anyway. And of course 10% of your population died of a government-caused famine that decade. And you locked up a few hundred thousand others in a political prison network that would do Stalin proud, and still have them there according to those negative nancys at our State Department.

But golly, it sure did feel nice signing those agreements, didn’t it? That’s what diplomacy is all about. All of these haters in Washington, Tokyo and Seoul keep saying that your family used me as a propaganda tool, and that the multiple agreements your government signed in the 20 years since are worth less than one of those $100 bills you folks counterfeit so well. But I say they just don’t understand how to make peace.

But enough about politics. You know, the best times I had with your father was when we would just shoot the breeze over some kimchi and a gallon of cognac at that hollowed-out volcano he kept for an office just outside of Pyongyang. You may know that back in my day, before I turned my attention to peanut farming, I was a nuclear engineer of sorts and I knew my way around a nuclear submarine in my Navy days. Your father would just listen to me in a way no one in America really does anymore. He seemed to be noting my every word, fascinated as he was with the whole topic of nuclear power and what-not. Whether he was abducting children from Japan, testing new poisons on prisoners, counterfeiting brand-name erectile dysfunction drugs, or just thinking of new ways to assassinate Korean dissidents abroad, your father was a man of science through and through.

Which was why I didn’t quite understand why he wouldn’t see me during my last visit to Pyongyang in the spring. I came ready to talk peace and nuclear science — which I thought were his favorite topics. I even brought some socialist who used to run Norway with me. You know — that’s where they give out the Nobel Peace Prize. (BTW — have you applied yet? You’ve been in office a couple of days fewer than our current president had been when he got the prize, but the paperwork takes some doing. Don’t wait until the last minute.)

Anywho, your father wouldn’t see us. It was pretty disappointing, especially considering all of the stature I had given him over the years. I mean it’s not like U.S. presidents go around every day giving the brother handshake to Hugo Chavez or bowing to the Saudi king or anything like that. When I visited and flashed my pearly whites at the cameras with him, I was laying on the “street cred,” as the kids say nowadays.

Getting stood up after all that was tough. When I got back home, people looked at me like I was crazy. I hadn’t felt that ridiculed since that young Air Force officer didn’t believe me when I said I had seen a UFO back in ’69. But as sure as I have lust in my heart, I did see one that day by golly!

But that’s all heavy water under the bridge now, my young Kim Jong-un. Why don’t we get together and have us a friendly conversation? I just know I can get you to agree to give up your nuclear program again, just like your daddy and granddaddy. Heck, it works ever time.


President Jimmy Carter

Christian Whiton was a senior advisor at the State Department during the George W. Bush administration. He is a principal at DC International Advisory. You can follow him in Twitter @WhitonDCIA.