Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Two men have no more natural right to exercise any kind of authority over one, than one has to exercise the same authority over two. A man's natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime, whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber or by millions, calling themselves a government.”     Lysander Spooner

August 4, 2009

Rare Praise for Former President Bill Clinton

by Stephen Littau

I’m not normally one to say nice things about former President Bill Clinton but I have to say kudos for his securing the release of the two American journalists turned political prisoners in N. Korea.

Reuters Reports:

SEOUL — North Korea said on Wednesday it had pardoned two jailed American journalists after former U.S. President Bill Clinton met the reclusive state’s leader Kim Jong-il, a move some analysts said could pave the way to direct nuclear disarmament talks.

Clinton’s spokesman said the former president had left Pyongyang with the two reporters and they were flying to Los Angeles.

“President Clinton has safely left North Korea with Laura Ling and Euna Lee. They are enroute to Los Angeles where Laura and Euna will be reunited with their families,” spokesman Matt McKenna said in a statement.”

While I think the notion that the release of these two reporters could lead to productive disarmament talks is a bit premature, I think we should be happy that these two young women are now safe and no longer the slaves of Kim Jong-il.

Though the release of the reporters is undoubtedly a joyous occasion for many freedom loving people, at least one person is not so happy. Former Ambassador John Bolton was quoted in Breitbart.com as saying “It [Clinton’s visit with Kim Jong-il] comes perilously close to negotiating with terrorists” and “I think this is a very bad signal because it does exactly what we always try and avoid doing with terrorists or with rogue states in general, and that’s encouraging their bad behavior.”

Wake up Ambassador, the U.S. government has “negotiated with terrorists” for many decades, even on your watch. Hell, sometimes the U.S. government props up these regimes while turning a blind eye to human rights abuses and national/global security threats when the regime in question helps support the goals of the U.S. government. How is Clinton’s visit to Pyongyang any worse?

A 12 year sentence in N. Korea’s work camps might as well be a death sentence; Clinton may well have saved their lives. We shouldn’t lose sight of that.

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10 Comments

  1. “the U.S. government has “negotiated with terrorists” for many decades”

    Then maybe we shouldn’t. That we have done something for many decades is a pretty weak argument that we should do it more. The case against rewarding bad behavior is a standard argument from incentives. Do you also reject economic theory?

    Comment by Constant — August 4, 2009 @ 9:38 pm
  2. Why is it so imperative that we not negotiate with terrorists? Talking to them and rewarding them are not exactly the same thing.

    Comment by Peter — August 5, 2009 @ 5:10 am
  3. Constant:

    I wasn’t arguing that the U.S. government should negotiate more with terrorist and rogue states, I was pointing out the hypocrisy of Bolton’s statement. U.S. foreign policy is very inconsistent; the idea that the U.S. government “doesn’t negotiate with terrorists” is a joke. (and how was negotiating the release of these journalists “rewarding” Kim Jong-il anyway?)

    Another inconsistency is trade policy. We have this trade embargo with Communist Cuba but more than happy to trade with Communist China (U.S. athletes even participated in the Olympics despite the country’s horrible human rights record). I’m not saying that there should be an embargo on China but that the embargo should be lifted with Cuba.

    There’s just a great deal of inconsistency in general with how the U.S. government interacts with other states.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — August 5, 2009 @ 6:01 am
  4. Maybe it only seems inconsistent, can anyone say what the actual goals of the U.S. government are in it’s interactions with other states?

    I suspect that whatever is really going on is not always the same as what is in the press release.

    Comment by John222 — August 5, 2009 @ 7:53 am
  5. Good point John. There is a lot we don’t know I’m sure.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — August 5, 2009 @ 9:52 am
  6. Would Bill Clinton have gone to North Korea if the reporters had been from the Weekly Standard or Reason?

    Comment by Vance — August 5, 2009 @ 2:13 pm
  7. Stephen,

    Let me play devil’s advocate here. Does North Korea have the right to enforce its own laws and its own borders as a sovereign nation? If so, these two reporters by all accounts illegally entered the country and since these two reporters violated North Korean law and even their national sovereignty. If that’s the case, and by all accounts, that is the case, these two women were being held legitimately by the North Korean government.

    What right does the US have in demanding that North Korea cannot enforce its own laws, especially pertaining to its own sovereignty and its own borders?

    Comment by Kevin — August 5, 2009 @ 3:25 pm
  8. “What right does the US have in demanding that North Korea cannot enforce its own laws, especially pertaining to its own sovereignty and its own borders.”

    I suppose the same “right” Central and South American countries, the Russians, Canadians, Mexicans, probably 35% of Republican politicians, 75% of all Democrat politicians, and 100% of all Leftists residing in the North American continent, claim to have, to demand that the US has no “right” pertaining to its own alleged “sovereignty” to enforce its own alleged “borders.”

    In follow up to Vance’s question, I’d like to know what our standards should be for when it is appropriate for a non-government private citizen to travel to a foreign country to plead for the release of US citizens detained there. Does it depend on whether they are journalists or not? What if there are 3 instead of 2? What if there is just one, and he is a Jew working for the National Review, and it’s an Islamic Country? Does that just merit a former Congressman instead of a former President – or in that circumstance, do we instead just send a strongly worded letter via the UN?

    How about if it is a Texan internet blogger instead of a real journalist, and it is Mexico where he is detained instead of NK? Maybe a country singer or fellow Texan celebrity like Chuck Norris would be the non-governmental offician in that circumstance?

    What if it is Hugo Chavez’s regime who arrested the journalist? We “love” Hugo now, right? It’s all giggles and grins with our good buddy Hugo. So instead of sending Bill to beg, maybe in that circumstance we instead lend our strong support to Hugo for exercising his right to have law and order.

    I’m confused as to when Obama looks the other way and busies himself with downing a few beers with persons of both color and non-color in order to finally heal our racial divisions once and for all, while Bill Clinton goes and gets the job done, and when instead, he needs to send Hillary or better yet, offer to swap hostages and offer them Joe Biden. Which is win-win for everyone.

    What promises and/or contrite apologies for Amerika’s past sins, did BillyJeff make on behalf of The One’s administration that we don’t know about, and that we won’t get told about in this brave new era of non-transparency, I’m wondering. Which The One can exercise “plausible deniability” over if it ever comes to light, since, after all, it wasn’t a govt official who went over, just a former citizen.

    Comment by southernjames — August 6, 2009 @ 4:26 am
  9. Kevin:

    At least from what I have read, the U.S. government didn’t make any demands that the women should be freed. Actually, the women won their freedom whenever Clinton visited N. Korea (upon Kim Jong-il’s invitation) and apologized on the women’s behalf for breaking his laws. That’s very different from “release the reporters or else..” (at least it is in my mind).

    SJames:

    You raise some very good questions. Like I said, there is a great deal of inconsistency with U.S. foreign policy. I would very much like to know how the State Department would respond to these questions.

    LMAO @ “I’m confused as to when Obama looks the other way and busies himself with downing a few beers with persons of both color and non-color in order to finally heal our racial divisions once and for all, while Bill Clinton goes and gets the job done, and when instead, he needs to send Hillary or better yet, offer to swap hostages and offer them Joe Biden. Which is win-win for everyone.”

    That’s funny, I don’t care who you are.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — August 6, 2009 @ 10:49 am
  10. Does North Korea have the right to enforce its own laws and its own borders as a sovereign nation?

    No.

    Comment by Joshua Holmes — August 6, 2009 @ 8:58 pm

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