Q&A Friday #103: Was It A Good Idea For Clinton To Free The Two North Korean Hostages?

Question: “The utter humiliation of the Secretary of State (NK made fun of Hillary when she asked for their release) and inflating Kim Jong Il’s ego by sending an ex-President to chat with him is a *good* thing?

It is good for Clinton’s legacy and reputation as Worldwide Pimp Daddy and smoothtalker (and the hostages of course), but how does this possibly help the United States?” — Mike_M

Answer: Bill Clinton left North Korea with Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had been captured and were being held as political pawns by North Korea. At the end of the day, I have to say that I think that’s a good thing…however, it’s not an unalloyed good.

Bill Clinton is not just anybody: he’s a former President and the husband+ of the Secretary of State. By going to North Korea and posing with Kim Jung-Il, he rewarded North Korea for bad behavior. There’s also always the possibility that Clinton made a deal with Kim-Jung-Il. Did Clinton promise on behalf of the Obama Administration to send money or food to the Norks if they’d let the journalists go? Maybe, but if we ever find out, it’ll probably be years from now.

There’s a reason that it’s a bad idea for nations to negotiate with terrorists or kidnappers: it only encourages them to continue behaving badly. Is that what happened here or could North Korea have been looking for a face-saving way out? It’s a little bit muddled since we don’t know what may have happened behind the scenes; however, we need to be very careful to make sure that in escaping from our immediate problems, we’re not incentivizing our enemies to create more trouble for us down the line.

So, I’m willing to give Obama and Clinton the benefit of the doubt on this one, but despite the positive result, we should be concerned if we start to see more incidents handled in this way.

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