Freeing Journalists Stirs Debate
If there were a better story to set off a sometimes uncivilized argument between Our Readers Who Comment than Bill Clinton's trip to North Korea to provide a photo op with dictator Kim Jong Il in exchange for the release of two U.S. journalists, I don't know what it would be.
The hard right is predictably concerned that this will be read as tacit U.S. recognition of a repressive regime with nuclear ambitions, an argument former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton also makes on the op-ed page.
Some of our readers express similar concerns, but more disagree and say so. There is excessive use of the term wingnuts. But it is a complex issue. Several readers were pleased that the women were released but also questioned why they crossed the border into North Korea. There is a little Clinton bashing and some amusing exchanges.
We'll start with 27081, who outlined both sides of the discussion in writing, "These two women are extremely lucky that the "Dear Leader" needs and craves photos of him smiling and shaking hands with a former President of the United States more than he needs them in prison... It is sad that the United States has agreed to be complicit in this propaganda bonus for this little despot. Good for these two women, but shame on us for allowing this propaganda tool."
joey3 asked, "does this mean that barry's foreign policy includes negotiating with terrorist like nation states, terrorists in general? what price for just two idiot so called journalists? terrorists all over the world now know they can win by taking american hostages, prisoners, because north korea got something out of this release..."
info13, who obviously didn't read Glenn Kessler's story, complained that "...REPORTERS are NOT doing their HOMEWORK folks. This is a documentable pattern of behavior. And all the public is told is that Bill Clinton is a magician... It is an OLD STORY with Obama's byline. And NO ONE has the depth, interest or skill to report it right. We are scammed again."
coolbliss wrote, "I am happy that Laura Ling and Euna Lee are free...
But I want to see tens of thousands of North Koreans freed from the labor camps. Do they get a pardon from Kim Jong Il?..."
esch said, "It looks like quite a few people both inside and outside the administration did a lot of things right on this one."
labman57 wrote, "So let's see. We have 3 options:
1) Cut our losses and let the two young women rot in a North Korean prison.
2) Nuke the whole freakin' nation. The women would die, but the opportunity to take out an adversary would be worth the collateral damage.
3) Let Bill Clinton provide a pre-negotiated photo op for that whack-job Kim Jong Il, the women are released, and tensions between the two nations are reduced such that diplomacy and talks involving nuclear threats possibly can be resumed. Gee. I don't know. Tough call..."
jayelle5 said, "While I'm glad that these journalists are free... I can't help but feel a degree of annoyance at private citizens who put themselves in harms way only to end up being arrested and used as pawns in a propaganda war. Same issue with the American hikers who strayed into Iran. What will it take to ensure their safe release?..."
murphyjim41 added, "I hope as a minimum the state department revokes the passports of these two dummies. The last thing we need is to have fame seekers going around the world causing dangerous international incidents..."
B2O2 asked, "How exactly does this event give North Korea "legitimacy"? I keep hearing detractors of the mission saying this, but they never say how. North Korea is the same country they were before the freeing of the journalists. They can spin this any way they want on their government media, but they have no more credibility internationally than they did before."
MET9 wrote, "And the score is: One Merchant ship Captain saved. Two Journalists released. Zero American lives lost on both occasions. Result: President Obama's ways of handling International Crisis' keep Americans alive..."
Slager21 said, This sounds "prearranged" and the question is now: how much did it cost us."
dfc102 responded, "What a terrible disappointment is must be. The lives of two innocent women get saved by a Democrat and the right responds with chagrin, paranoia, and schaudenfreude. Maybe the next time they'll be killed or jailed for years and then you can gloat."
annegreen wrote, "The wingnuts on this list just can't stand success, can they? they are such a joke. Obama is President and Clinton is King. Eat your little right wing hearts out."
To which cschotta1 replied, "The economy is tanking, the tax revenue is worst since the depression, Obama is failing yet you dorks think that this is a success! lol"
capntrips added, "why so bitter? I think most people think it's wonderful that they got out...but with only half of the equation, it's premature to know how much of a success it really was... in general, negotiating with dictators and terrorists isnt high on our national wish list...dont you agree?..."
annegreen then wrote, "backatcha capn. Not bitter, quite happy. And the idea that the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists is a myth but you are welcome to it..."
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