Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Family Business

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is off to Africa (no doubt to bury the evidence that President Obama was born in Zanzibar Kenya), former President Bill Clinton is in North Korea to negotiate for the release of two American journalists who have been imprisoned there.

The journalists, Laura Ling, 32, and Euna Lee, 36, were detained by soldiers on March 17 near the North Korean border with China. In June, they were sentenced to 12 years in a North Korean prison camp for “committing hostilities against the Korean nation and illegal entry.”

The Obama administration had been considering for weeks whether to send a special envoy to North Korea.

The choice of Mr. Clinton would mark his first public mission on behalf of the administration. His wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been deeply involved in the journalists’ case.

My guess is that he will be successful in getting them released. Nothing like this is done on the spur of the moment, and the North Koreans most likely signaled that if the United States would show them the deference and attention they obviously crave by sending a former president to plead on behalf of the two journalists, they would make a show out of their magnanimity and use it as a big propaganda show. I’m not sure who would buy it as anything but a staged event — no one in the civilized world takes North Korea as anything other than a paranoid and xenophobic dictatorship — but if it gets the prisoners freed, it’s probably worth it.

UPDATE: The New York Times is reporting that the two American journalists have been pardoned by North Korea.