Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Clinton might just do it

My guess is that Bill Clinton would not have gotten involved if he didn't have some assurances that there was at least a chance of being successful at bringing American quasi-journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee home. I certainly hope he facilitates their freedom. It strikes me that this isn't a bad kind of thing for former presidents to do. They have a certain cachet, and being out of office they have a certain freedom of movement and action that serving presidents simply don't. That doesn't imply automatic applause for everything an ex might do -- Jimmy Carter has sometimes been an embarrassment, and it's hard to imagine Dubya being much of an international negotiator.

I hope the incident -- even though Bill will probably downplay it during active negotiations -- will bring more attention to North Korea's incredibly brutal hard-labor camps, described in this WaPo piece and to which Ling and Lee were sentenced. Not many people emerge alive from them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the USA try a whole different approach to North Korea? Instead of treating N.K. like a pariah, why not establish diplomatic relations? Open an embassy there and begin trading with N.K.? Right now the North Koreans have no incentive for good relations with America. There is no carrot. Only the "stick" of the U.S. military. And America is most unlikely to actually launch an unprovoked attack on N.K. Why not give the N. Koreans some reason to want to have good relations with America like trade and diplomatic incentives. I am NOT talking about appeasment here but a system of rewards for good behaviour. As it currently is N.K. has nothing to lose by having poor relations with America. The same logic applies with Cuba. What has that incredibly stupid embargo achieved in almost fifty years (and why should "free" Americans be told be their government where they can travel to)? What if America did billions of dollars of trade with Cuba and hundreds of thousands of Cuban jobs depended on American investments? Wouldn't that be a better way of ensuring good behaviour from Cuba then a pointless embargo? Sadly for America the only tool in its toolbox is a hammer so every problem becomes a nail...