The Blog

A Day Without Apologies

11:31 AM, Aug 4, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Mike Allen reports:

TOP STORY -- Former President Bill Clinton was presented with a large bouquet as he arrived this morning in Pyongyang, North Korea, on a mission to win the release of two women journalists who have been detained since March 17.

EXCLUSIVE BACKSTORY: North Korean officials told relatives that they would release the women to Clinton, and the family then approached the former president. The White House approved the mission. Secret preparations went on for week. It may be a long day for Robert Gibbs, because the White House doesn't plan to issue a statement until the women are on free soil.

Wouldn't want to do anything to offend the Dear Leader at this critical moment. It was, after all, his request that the former president come to take custody of the hostages -- and the administration was more than happy to oblige. And why not? Has the Kim Family Regime not earned a little love from this administration for its incessant threats and provocations?

Let me just lay out one possible interpretation of recent invents:

1. Two American girls are dragged across the border by Nork soldiers.

2. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lies prostrate before the world and begs for "amnesty" for the two girls:

"The two journalists and their families have expressed great remorse for this incident, and I think everyone is sorry that it happened," Clinton said Friday during a meeting with State Department employees. "What we hope for now is that these two young women would be granted amnesty through the North Korean system and be allowed to return home to their families as soon as possible."

3. A North Korean official lashes out at Secretary Clinton:

At a meeting of southeast Asian nations in Phuket, Thailand, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman blasted Clinton for what he called a "spate of vulgar remarks unbecoming for her position everywhere she went since she was sworn in," according to the state-run KCNA news agency.

The spokesman called Clinton "by no means intelligent" and a "funny lady."

"Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping," the statement said.

4. The Obama administration sends Clinton's husband, as requested, to North Korea -- and declares it will remain silent until he emerges with the two girls, lest it does anything to upset this delicate negotiation that is now underway.

So, according to Secretary Clinton, we are supposed to believe that this was somehow our fault? Or the administration's fault? If only Tommy Vietor hadn't been out there hurling rhetorical bombs at the Norks from the White House briefing room, maybe this whole mess could have been avoided? No -- the White House has done nothing to provoke the North Koreans (unless you count the promotion of Chris Hill). The American people shouldn't be sorry "this incident" happened, they should be sorry that neither this administration nor the last has had anything resembling a serious policy for bringing the North Koreans to heel and ultimately toppling a regime that is itself a crime against humanity.

What kind of statement will the White House put out when Clinton brings the two girls home? Will they then condemn this regime and its leaders as the vile despots that they are, or will we simply continue to pursue the Six Party Talks, continue to provide food and fuel to prop up their regime, continue launching formal protests at the UN after every missile launch or nuclear test? There's no evidence that the administration plans to do anything differently -- so why the day of silence? Why not just get on with it and put out a statement saying we hope the Dear Leader finds former President Clinton an acceptable interlocutor and that he will, in all his grace and mercy, release these two girls who have committed such a grave offense against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea? Why must this administration wait a whole twelve hours to continue with their apologies and servility?