Former President Bill Clinton has returned from North Korea with Euna
Lee and Laura Ling, the two U.S. journalists seized five months ago
along North Korea's border with China, charged with espionage, and
sentenced to 12 years of hard labor.
This is great news for the two women and their families. All of us
should rejoice they have been freed from their unjust imprisonment. But
whether this is good for the United States depends on how much ransom
President Obama has agreed to pay.
The administration says Mr. Clinton was on a "private humanitarian
mission," but this is no more true than Mr. Obama's claim that spending
a trillion dollars more on health care will save money. At a minimum,
having a former president who is married to the current Secretary of
State visit gives the world's worst dictatorship the attention it
It's all but certain, now, that North Korea will suffer no penalty for
its recent bad behavior (nuclear bomb and guided missile tests in
violation of UN resolutions), but that was likely even without the
seizure and release of the two journalist hostages. The UN has no
stomach for confrontation, and neither does this president (at least
with America's adversaries).
But it will be worse if Mr. Obama has agreed to abandon the six party
talk format in favor of the direct negotiations between the U.S. and
North Korea the Norks have long sought.
Rewarding North Korea for bad behavior guarantees more bad behavior from
North Korea in the future. And it encourages imitators. Spokesmen for
the regime in Iran suggested Tuesday three American hikers who
inadvertently crossed the poorly marked border between Iraqi Kurdistan
and Iran may be tried as spies.
With regard to America's enemies, the Obama foreign policy has been all
appeasement, all the time. The most recent example of this was White
House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' gratuitous description Tuesday of
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "the elected leader of Iran."
(After criticism, Mr. Gibbs backed away from the statement the next
As most of the sentient know, Iran is in the throes of a near civil war
triggered by popular outrage over the obvious theft of the presidential
election in June. Mr. Obama is alone among Western leaders in regarding
the Iranian regime as legitimate.
The president said he chose not to criticize the stolen election, or to
express support for those, who despite savage repression are
protesting it, because he doesn't want to appear to be "meddling" in
Iran's internal affairs.
But Mr. Obama has no qualms trying to bully tiny Honduras into restoring
as president a Hugo Chavez wannabe who attempted a top down coup in
violation of Honduras' constitution, or in telling Israel where he
thinks its citizens may or may not build their homes. His secretary of
state does not consider it meddling to lecture India on what India's
climate change policy should be.
If the president does abandon the six party talks for direct
negotiations with North Korea, that would be a blow to our allies in
Japan and South Korea. But it would be consistent with his pattern so
far of solicitude for America's enemies, callousness towards America's
This is certainly a dramatic change from the foreign policy of George W.
Bush and of every president, save Jimmy Carter, before him but it
is yet to produce any tangible benefits for the United States. North
Korea and Iran have become more belligerent, not less. Even though
Barack Obama supports installing his stooge in Honduras, Venezuelan
dictator Hugh Chavez has criticized the president, and is supplying arms
to narcoterrorists in Colombia, a U.S. ally. Despite Mr. Obama's
dramatic shift away from Israel, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have said they
will not make concessions to help his Middle East peace plan move
It's rarely ever a good idea to help your enemies and hurt your friends,
but some of Mr. Obama's appeasement gestures are more lame-brained than
"It's one thing to want to engage Iran," said Iranian expert Michael
Rubin. "The White House, however, seems intent on playing poker with
Iran with an open hand. When the Iranian regime especially now
craves legitimacy, why would Obama offer up what Ahmadinejad wants most
for absolutely nothing in return?"
We've yet to suffer obvious harm from Mr. Obama's foreign policy. But
he's released a lot of chickens which will come home to roost sooner or