The top story today was no doubt the return of former U.S President Bill Clinton and recently freed journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee who had been imprisoned in North Korea since earlier this March, when according to reports they had accidentally crossed from China into North Korean territory. Subsequently they were given a “trial” in North Korea and sentenced to twelve years imprisonment in a forced labor camp.
But on what is said to have been a “private” mission former U.S President Bill Clinton went over to the totalitarian country and was able to get the two journalists pardoned, returning them to the shores of America and the arms of relieved families and a grateful nation. In exchange for what? A few photographs with a despot.
To tell the truth I was surprised that this much was able to be accomplished over a forty-eight hour period; especially since the names and incident as unjust as it is had faded from the headlines. Obviously this was planned beforehand, but nonetheless the aim of this mission by the ex-President obviously was to come home with these two hostages and that was accomplished.
But despite achieving that objective many on the far right and the neocons bemoan that it is negotiating with terrorists and horrible regimes. That we should not be engaging in dialogue much less posing for photos with them. Ex-acting U.S Ambassador to the UN and noted neoconservative John Bolton says this was merely rewarding bad behavior and possibly emboldening our enemies. Sean Hannity, the whitehouses ambassador to the radio waves during the Bush/Cheney administration echoed that sentiment. Most have the decency and logic to at least preference their condemnations with “I am glad the girls are home”. But ex-Clinton aide and neoconservative Dick Morris says the girls she be punished for what they did. They should remain stashed away in the tombal prisons of this Stalinist nation, toiling day and night for having accidentally stumbled into North Korean territory.
(H/T: Crooks and Liars)-
Carlson: How are we supposed to get the girls home, though, Dick? And I only have 30 seconds. How are we supposed to get them home?
Morris: I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe they don’t come home. Maybe they go to North Korea and live with the consequences of their decision to go there.
So much for that spreading of democracy across the world that Dick and the other neoconservatives were so hopped on back in the Bush/Cheney administration.
But aside from the post-rational reasoning of this clown, what is their alternative? So what if Kim Jung Ill has two or three photos of him with Bill Clinton? Kim Jung Ill has scant if any credibility anywhere in the world and is noted as despot. In doing this we as America show that we care about our people, which is more then can be said about the leader of North Korea? And does this really put us in a worse spot then before? What, now that a former president sat down with a dictator we can’t shake our fists and talk about how much we want to bomb North Korea? How much we condemn their nuclear program and their atrocious human rights record? Please somebody tell me how sitting with a former U.S president can be seen as essentially surrendering to North Korea? We got two of our citizens back whose only crime was getting lost and being from our great land, and from what we can tell now all it took was a few photos? I might be insane but a few photos seems like a minor price for the world’s most powerful country to pay for two of its citizens.
By the logic of these critics we shouldn’t have gotten our Navy men back on the USS Pueblo in 1968, when it was captured by North Korea, and in order to get them back to the security and haven of our land we had to apologize for having one of our submarines off their shores. Or that during World War II we should have risked losing the war, and not formed an alliance with one of the twentieth century’s most detestable tyrants Josef Stalin, because that involved us not only meeting and talking with him, but allying ourselves with him to exploit the weakness of our common enemy during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, which ended up loosening the once iron grip Hitler and the Nazis had in the Eastern European theater. Yeah, what a mistake that was. Or how about during the Cuban missile crisis, when in order to avert a nuclear holocaust we ended up gasp negotiating with the Soviet Union to stave off nuclear Armageddon.
Or how about 1972 when Richard Nixon, a Republican and at the time ally of many conservatives (such as Pat Buchanan) traveled to China and ended up opening relations with the communist nation, to exploit the divides between China and their communist rival the Soviet Union which ultimately was a crucial element in ending the cold war?
But the best comparison I heard was on the Political Animal, where reference is made to Michael Crowley who quipped After all, “even the right’s cherished embodiment of American machismo, Ronald Reagan, was willing to trade arms for hostages.” , referencing Reagan’s arms for hostages deal in the 1980s, where Reagan actually sold U.S weapons to Iran, enemies of the United States, in order to secure the release of American hostages. But hey at least he didn’t pose for a photo with the Ayatollah Khomeini. Just once I would like to hear someone bring up the arms for hostages deal when conservative commentators begin maligning this latest move by Clinton. I wonder if Dick Morris would then reply by saying that the hostages in the 1980s should have had to live with consequences of being in the wrong place at the wrong time?