Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Good Going

Despite what John Bolton might think, getting two American journalists released from a North Korean labor camp is a good thing.

Mr. Bolton apparently prefers that the two women rot in jail to prove the point that the Bush administration had the right approach: bully and threaten the already-paranoid whack-jobs that run North Korea. The result of that was they came up with enough material to make some nukes and launch some missiles. Good going, John.

Mr. Bolton assumes that Mr. Clinton went to North Korea as an “act of obeisance.” He doesn’t know what was actually said in the meetings with Kim Jung-Il; he just concludes that since the former president was met by a high government official and was given a bouquet of flowers, he suddenly turned into Neville Chamberlain at Munich. And since North Korea never does anything without completely planning it out, it is obvious to all but the most obtuse that they had signaled to the Obama administration that they were willing to release the Americans as long as it was done in a manner that did not cause them to lose face or be treated with disrespect. That meant sending an envoy who would command respect, show them politeness, and wasn’t a belligerent ass — which eliminates anyone from the Bush administration. So the Obama administration publicly gave their tacit blessing to the Clinton trip — they plan things out too, as opposed to “going with their gut” — and they are secure enough in their knowledge that a great country can stand to be used for a one-news-cycle propaganda pitch from a country that no one expects anything else from.

As Spencer Ackerman said, “I’m searching for an actual harm to U.S. interests here and I just can’t find it. What I can find is two freed Americans.”