As most everyone now knows, Current TV journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling were pardoned a few days by Kim Jong Il from their convictions of entering North Korea illegally. This was the result of a private visit by former President Bill Clinton. Of course since Clinton was involved, some member of the wingnuts had to jump out there and criticise this succesful negotiation.
The nay-saying fell to former UN ambassador and (and as Jason Linkins refers to him) noted rage-walrus John Bolton, who says the “Clinton trip is a significant propaganda victory for North Korea, whether or not he carried an official message from President Obama.”
As Jason Linkins writes at Huffington Post, “Of course, holding Lee and Ling as prisoners was also a significant propaganda victory for North Korea, insofar as the ravings of a crackpot rogue nations can be held to be significant. If Kim Jong Il bakes a mediocre angel food cake today, North Korea will claim they’ve achieved a significant propaganda victory.”
Bolton, of course, will never be happy with any outcome that didn’t result from bombing something:
While the United States is properly concerned whenever its citizens are abused or held hostage, efforts to protect them should not create potentially greater risks for other Americans in the future. Yet that is exactly the consequence of visits by former presidents or other dignitaries as a form of political ransom to obtain their release. Iran and other autocracies are presumably closely watching the scenario in North Korea. With three American hikers freshly in Tehran’s captivity, will Clinton be packing his bags again for another act of obeisance? And, looking ahead, what American hostages will not be sufficiently important to merit the presidential treatment? What about Roxana Saberi and other Americans previously held in Tehran? What was it about them that made them unworthy of a presidential visit? These are the consequences of poorly thought-out gesture politics, however well-intentioned or compassionately motivated. Indeed, the release of the two reporters — welcome news — doesn’t mitigate the future risks entailed.
Because of course, the rest of the world hates us because we’ve gone about trying to get captured Americans released, and who knows what sorts of concessions Clinton made to Pyongyang.
At any rate, as Spencer Ackerman points out, the only outcome of a Presidential visit to Pyongyang that Bolton would take national pride in is one in which Clinton “strapped himself with nuclear weapons and detonated during a meeting with Kim Jong-il.”
Linkins goes on to astutely note, “Of course, no one was negotiating ‘merely for the sake of it.’ The negotiations were for the sake of Euna Lee and Laura Ling. You’ll note that Bolton never mentions them by name, once. This is not surprising, because that would take actual humanity.”