- By Blake Hounshell
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.
Exhibit A in the case for not believing everything you read in the WikiLeaks cables is this September 2008 dispatch from the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai.
The cable, signed by the consulate’s Christopher Beede and titled "SHANGHAI SCHOLARS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER DELAY IN SIX-PARTY TALKS," looks to be a fairly ho-hum summary of a meeting with a group of Chinese North Korea-watchers.
But there’s one bizarre throwaway line (my emphasis):
According xxxxx, the nuclear declaration North Korea submitted in May was incomplete. xxxxx claims that critical information about secret underwater nuclear facilities located on North Korea’s coast. For this reason, a debate has emerged within the Chinese leadership over the merits of quick U.S. delisting, xxxxx continues. One camp believes that continued momentum in the Six-Party Talks is critical to their success, and has concluded that Washington must adopt a more flexible attitude. The other camp, however, has taken the incomplete nuclear declaration as evidence that the regime in Pyongyang is truly "a ticking time bomb," and regard Washington’s tough stance on verification as a potential opportunity to finally deal with a persistent regional irritant.
Say what? Secret underwater nuclear facilities? Has this Chinese scholar been watching too many Bond movies?
Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, quotes an anonymous Korean Foreign Ministry official dimissing the story as "hard to believe." The Chosun Ilbo, a conservative paper that will print almost anything that makes North Korea look bad, quotes another official flatly saying the cable "is not true."
That’s not all that’s in this particular cable, however. It also relays one Shanghai expert’s claim that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il "has a long history of recreational drug use that has resulted in frequent bouts of epilepsy and contributed to his poor health overall."