Bill Clinton is shameless. Although saving two female journalists from 12 years in a North Korean prison was undoubtedly heroic and the women are probably eternally grateful, how could they possibly thank him for it?
We know just how Bill will play it: “Oh it’s no problem ladies; you’ll have plenty of time to thank me on my private jet.” Diplomacy for the win! What a badass.
Bill Clinton did something most — or at least one former U.S. president — would consider unthinkable; he flew all the way to North Korea to talk face to face with the country’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il to negotiate the release of two imprisoned American journalists.
While this is a heroic move by the former U.S. president, I am left with some questions about what this means for America.
First of all, what happened to “We will not negotiate with terrorists for the release of hostages”? Americans are as obsessed with citing this mantra as they are with breaking it.
Some have argued that because Clinton went there as an individual and not as a direct representative of the current U.S. administration, what he did there was up to him. But isn’t Bill Clinton married to Hillary Clinton, the current U.S. Secretary of State? To me that seems like an enormous loophole.
The diplomacy of this trip is both reassuring and troubling. It is reassuring to see American diplomats engaging with foreign enemies to achieve some understanding. I don’t think the past administration’s habit of alienating these nations has fully stopped them from continuing their oppressive regimes or going forward with their military plans.
It’s troubling because it proves that taking hostages works. By taking the prisoners and setting the demands, Kim Jong-il had America playing into his hands.
Did this trip to North Korea set a precedent for all American citizens taken prisoner? In the future when someone gets arrested in a nation considered hostile by the U.S., is Bill Clinton going to come to their rescue every time? Doubtful.
Former presidents and vice presidents are getting things done, or at least Bill Clinton and Al Gore are. Are they doing the Obama administration’s job? Or is the fact that they are out of office giving them free reign to do what they want without having to answer to their constituents? Either way, if it’s winning an academy award or saving incarcerated journalists, they’re out there making headlines and new friends.
graphic Danielle Siemens