Example one is an article in the Wall Street Journal by Gordon Chang, who has written about North Korea and nuclear power before. Mr Chang reminds us of several things. One is that
Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator, was on hand at the airport in Pyongyang to greet Mr. Clinton as he arrived—a clear sign Pyongyang, at least, is linking the two issues.This is not necessarily a good thing. As Mr Chang points out, previous errors by presidents (one of them being Clinton) have allowed Kim to strengthen his power even more and develop his nuclear arsenal. Will history repeat itself?
There is something else we must not forget:
And now there may be one more reason for the regime to continue its alarming conduct. If Mr. Clinton is conducting any nuclear discussions he would be rewarding Pyongyang for jailing the two reporters and making them bargaining chips.Some people are just sourpusses. Why can't they emote like everyone else?
This matters because Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee were not Pyongyang’s only hostages. In March, North Korea detained Yu Song-jin, a South Korean manager working in the Kaesong industrial zone, for criticizing Kim’s paradise. Last week, a North Korean patrol boat seized a South Korean fishing vessel that accidentally strayed into the North’s waters, and Pyongyang is now keeping the
four-member crew for no good reason. North Korea may be holding 100 or more Japanese abductees and at least 1,000 South Koreans, some of them prisoners from the Korean War and others kidnapped since then. More broadly, Kim uses all his 23 million people as hostages.
Now two American journalists will come home safely. Good. But let’s hope the U.S. didn’t secure their release at the cost of further negotiations that will only give Kim more time to perfect his nuclear arsenal and develop his ballistic missiles.
Just to make things worse, the editorial in the WSJ harps on the problems as well, after congratulating President Clinton and the two journalists who had apparently gone in there while working for one of Al Gore's enterprises.
Yet Mr. Clinton’s visit is a message unto itself. It will bolster Kim’s bid to dissolve the six-party negotiations in favor of the direct talks with the U.S. he has long sought. It will also dismay some in South Korea and Japan, which have their own hostages in North Korea and will wonder why Mr. Clinton couldn’t obtain their release as well.Still, if it promotes Madam Secretary of State's career it will all be worthwhile. I trust my readers agree.
If it turns out that if a new nuclear negotiation really was begun during Mr. Clinton’s visit, it will also send the signal to North Korea that the worse its behavior, the more it stands to gain from the U.S. And it will mean that Kim’s price will be even higher to spring the next American hostages.