As you have probably read by now, Bill Clinton has secured the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee. It is certainly preferable to get the two imprisoned journalists back from North Korea as reasonably intact human beings now rather than as broken, Kim-worshiping wretches 12 years from now. They will be making a revolutionary Songun upsurge and enjoying the great powerful prosperous life available almost anywhere except North Korea.
The trade-off, of course, is that Bill Clinton had to go act like a broken, Kim-worshiping wretch. You can accomplish a great deal by negotiating from a position of weakness, as John Bolton put it, as long as you are willing to sacrifice your own interests to an even greater extent. The only thing comforting about granting propaganda victories as ransom is that propaganda victories are, after all, intangible. Perhaps we can neutralize the ransom just paid by stressing that the 23 million people who make up North Korea's population still await release from their prison-camp.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad