I was shocked when I heard about the verdict against the two journalist in North Korea. Twelve years hard labor sounds horrifying for these journalists and all should know that North Korea’s Gulag style prison system is well capable of endangering a prisoner’s life within months simply from the conditions alone (Although these two innocent women will hopefully receive better treatment, even though it’s only because they are westerners). Then you take a step back and realize they’re going to probably be all right because the Kim dynasty needs these two as bargaining chips in their growing confrontation with the entire world.
At this point, we take a breath and hope that these two women will be released sooner than twelve years from now, but like I said above, this would still mean incredible hardship. So, we’re finally stuck with the feeling that the North Koreans have gone too far and need to be dealt with somehow, but is that the end of it.
North Korea illegally snatched up two innocent and harmless individuals and has held them and charged them and tried them for bogus reasons and any country that does such a thing should be sanctioned and embargoed and blockaded and we should drop nasty letters about the Kim dynasty from the air or something, right? Unfortunately, we cannot go to the United Nations and make that strong of a case and we’ll have a harder time negotiating the release of these two poor women because the North Korean negotiator will pontificate about the actions of the United States at Guantanamo for months before any progress begins.
The United States is in the business of snatching up people and holding on to them indefinitely without even charging them. The conditions are much better with us, yes, but that doesn’t limit North Korea’s leverage with this issue (so what if we have a doctor with a tracheotomy kit on standby for waterboarding! This proves we don’t want to kill you, but it also proves that WATERBOARDING CAN KILL YOU, even by accident).
Technically, we are doing the same thing here. It may difficult for some to read this, but hear me out. The example of two innocent journalists that got too close to a sensitive border and became detained for suspicious activity compares quite well with several innocent individuals of Middle Eastern descent that have been detained for suspicious travel activity to the land of their birth. I agree that in the middle of an American town hall meeting these examples don’t compare so well, but around the globe, throughout the Middle East, in China and in North Korea, it makes for juicy propaganda. The North Korean people, after all, are the ones we need to convince here, they hold the real power, they just don’t know it yet.
You have to admit that the families of the innocent women imprisoned in North Korea and the families of the innocent victims imprisoned in the Guantanamo detention center would have a lot in common if they had a chance to talk. Especially if these two American journalists don’t see freedom for seven years or more. Let’s be honest here, the rules have changed and the United States is a part of that change.