RSS
Bill Clinton’s North Korea mission
Is sending Bill Clinton to Pyongyang to rescue jailed journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee a good idea?
 

Former president Bill Clinton is on a rescue mission in North Korea, said Ryan Witt in Examiner.com, and there are reasons to believe he can succeed in bringing home jailed American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Most importantly, such a "prestigious" visit will stroke the ego of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. But a win by Clinton could also undercut his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who called Kim’s regime “childish.”

One of the “more interesting questions” about Bill Clinton’s mission, said Derrick Henry in The New York Times, is what role, if any, Hillary Clinton had in setting it up. It’s an “intriguing” diplomatic deployment of a spouse, but not unprecedented: Hillary herself made a “big splash” in China while Bill was in office. And if this works, maybe it won’t be the last time Bill Clinton returns to the “delicate sphere of foreign diplomacy.”

“Clinton may charm the Pyongyang despot” into letting Laura Ling and Euna Lee go, said Tim Kelly in Forbes, or even “into another round of detente” in North Korea’s nuclear development. But his “mercy mission” won’t fix things for long. With Pyongyang already claiming “entry into the elite club of nuclear-armed states,” it won’t take Kim—or his successor—much time to return to “belligerence.”

Clinton’s “off the books diplomacy” also reinforces the “dangerous precedent” of “rewarding blackmail,” said Robert Stein in Connecting the Dots. Wouldn’t it have been better to send former vice president Al Gore, whose Current TV employs Ling and Lee? It seems like Gore’s “humbling” would be a “high enough price to pay” for the two women.

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week