Bigger Picture In Bill Clinton's N. Korea Mission?

Steve Clemons seems to think so:

Bill Clinton has now secured pardons from Kim Jong Il for the two journalists who he has now met with -- but more importantly, Clinton has engaged directly with North Korea President Kim Jong Il and this may steady things in Northeast Asia for a bit. As one observer told me today, engaging Kim directly matters and prevents the complex filters around him from distorting and derailing earnest efforts to get the relationship pointed in a more constructive direction. Former Japan Prime Minister Koizumi learned this through two direct meetings with Kim, and the Chinese and South Koreans also have learned that direct engagement with the North Korean leader produces radically different results than dealing with the bureaucratic minions around him.

Clinton may have just given North Korea a "face-saving way" back to negotiations in the Six Party Talks -- and North Korea may have found a valuable informal back channel to both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to partially sate its own yearning for direct bilateral talks with the United States that America can't endorse given other stakeholders in Northeast Asia committed to a six party process.

Interesting take. Not sure I buy it, but here's hoping.

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  • Display: Sort:
    They're on their way home (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by nycstray on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 06:37:40 PM EST
    according to "tweets" and ABC. The 2 women have left NK with Clinton


    I buy it here's my take (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Saul on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 07:46:59 PM EST
    I think that Kim Jong just wants to be recognized as a world leader before he dies even if he crazy.   If Joe blow tells him to abandon his nuclear program he hates that.  However, if the actual world leaders would call him directly asking the same thing rather than their subordinates, I think this guy will listen more.

    It's an ego thing with him IMO.  In his mind, he probably says,

    If if I have to be scolded I want it done by famous people not peons and then maybe I will talk to you.

    Yeah (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by cal1942 on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 11:26:04 PM EST
    One of the photos showed a somber Clinton standing next to a grinning Kim.

    I agree, I think that part of it is massive ego that insists on high level attention.


    I agree too. Head of state, (5.00 / 2) (#44)
    by oldpro on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 12:20:15 AM EST
    dictator or no, who wants to be treated as an equal.

    Imagine that.


    There they go again........ (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by NYShooter on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 05:09:05 AM EST
    Those Clintons....they'll do anything to get attention!


    Next up... (none / 0) (#47)
    by Fabian on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 05:42:29 AM EST
    Photo op with Castro!

    Bailing out (none / 0) (#1)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 03:27:05 PM EST

    Bailing out Gore's employees is good enough.

    The people (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by cal1942 on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 11:18:27 PM EST
    who were bailed out were U. S. citizens.

    It was done on a couple of other occasions in the mid-90s.


    I hate it when ... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 03:31:18 PM EST
    journalists or pundits say "one observer told me" when they clearly just mean "one of my friends said."

    And I think his bud over-estimates the importance of direct talks with Kim.

    Here is the back story (none / 0) (#16)
    by ChiTownMike on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 04:14:05 PM EST
    from Time. Apparently Clemmons is on the right track with what he is writing.

    Clinton was not the only choice being considered and there was evidently some back channel negotiating going on prior to Clinton's trip. Two way talk may be in the works as Clemmons says.

    Time Story


    I don't buy it, (none / 0) (#3)
    by bocajeff on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 03:37:31 PM EST
    I think it has become apparent that when N.Korea behaves like this they get something in return. They're like a whining child who cries until they get what they want (which I think is food and other commodities). Meanwhile, we (the West) get a temperamental child who we either have to give in to every once in awhile or wait for the temper tantrum (nukes, missile firings).

    Meanwhile, the N.Korean citizens are stuck in ruin compared to their neighbors to the South.

    What did they get in return? (5.00 / 8) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 03:38:36 PM EST
    An autographed picture with Bill Clinton.

    Seems a small price to pay.


    Will this become the new international (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by nycstray on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 04:07:16 PM EST
    ransom demand?  ;)

    I think the going rate for that is about $20k (none / 0) (#6)
    by andgarden on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 03:45:57 PM EST
    'Course, Kim is a foreign national, so. . .

    Exactly (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jjc2008 on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 03:48:17 PM EST
    This despot is a whining child.  Like many of these types, he sees himself as important on the world stage and when the world ignores him, he has a temper tantrum.  Having his picture with someone with the world status of Bill Clinton is indeed a coup for him and gives him bragging rights with a populace who is brain washed to believe he is their "deal leader" on many levels.

    Umm (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 03:56:58 PM EST
    Let me let you in on a little secret - North Korea has been a totalitarian state since the end of WWII.

    Bill Clinton's picture is not the linchpin to the government's control.


    Ummm (none / 0) (#17)
    by Jjc2008 on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 04:43:05 PM EST
    I know that sir.  And your condescension is not appreciated.

    My comment was about the current mentality of this leader, an off hand assessment of a personality, not a deep discussion of history.  Get your damn ego in check.


    Hmm (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 04:46:41 PM EST
    "Having his picture with someone with the world status of Bill Clinton is indeed a coup for him and gives him bragging rights with a populace who is brain washed to believe he is their "deal leader" on many levels."

    Your words.


    The word "coup" (none / 0) (#20)
    by Jjc2008 on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 05:03:04 PM EST
    in this means a personal coup.

    I think it is a personal "achievement" for him because I believe, from what I have read, him to be an egocentric being who likes this kind of "staged" sense of world importance.  
    What the heck does that have to do with my understanding of history?

    For you to imply I don't know the difference between a personal coup and history is ridiculous, condescending and rude.  As well, it was unnecessary and did not in any way improve the discussion. something you seem to harp on for everyone but yourself.


    "Bragging rights with a populace" (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 05:28:40 PM EST
    Again, your words.

    A totalitarian dictator does not need "bragging right with a populace."

    Having all the guns is good enough.


    Propaganda aka The Media (none / 0) (#48)
    by Fabian on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 05:49:05 AM EST
    is an essential tool for any government, even totalitarian dictatorships.

    If "all the guns" was enough, then there would be no need to control the media as well.

    If I had to make a choice, I'd take total control of the media over total control of the military/police any day.  


    Here we go again (none / 0) (#49)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 07:29:50 AM EST
    How is exactly do you think a dictator controls the Media?

    There I go being rude again.


    But then (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Fabian on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 08:17:56 AM EST
    corporations are more powerful than armies, because they control our media and thus the way we think about things.  They don't have guns either - just lawyers and lawmakers.

    Why if guns are so amazingly powerful, do we have to win the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqis and Afghanis?

    Using guns to control a population creates massive economic inefficiencies.  Short term gain, long term loss.  Because we exist in a global economy, nations and multinational corporations compete against each other and the least efficient, least innovative countries lose - even if they do use threats to beg for food donations or harbor pirates.

    For North Korea, guns and nuclear weapons are only delaying the inevitable political collapse.  The economic collapse has already happened.


    Tyey will get more time to perfect their weapons (none / 0) (#11)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 04:03:22 PM EST
    What alternative do you propose? (none / 0) (#18)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 04:45:03 PM EST
    Alternative to what? (none / 0) (#30)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 06:46:52 PM EST
    1. Let him keep the US prisoners.

    2. Tougher sanctions.

    Wow (5.00 / 5) (#33)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 07:14:45 PM EST
    Yeah, tougher sanctions wouldn't give them more time to "perfect their weapons," would they.  Oh yeah, they would.  What specific sanctions do you believe the US should impose, that we don't already?

    Meanwhile, two Americans would rot in NK custody under your plan, just so you can feel good about being an "appeaser."  Nice job.  What exactly persuades you that "tougher sanctions" would have any impact on NK's behavior?


    Depends on the sanctions (2.00 / 0) (#38)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 08:18:05 PM EST
    I can think of several, starting with a blockade. And yes, that might push them into a war but I don't think it would and if I have to gamble I would prefer doing it now. Not after they demonstrate ICBM capability.

    As for the two Americans, I don't see why ill considered acts by anyone should allow our foreign policy to be changed. And make no mistake. That is what has happened.


    A blockade (5.00 / 5) (#39)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 08:45:43 PM EST
    is an act of war, so if you think starting a war with NK would have been a better solution, just say so.

    is an act of war, (none / 0) (#50)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 07:31:22 AM EST
    Read what I wrote.

    You wrote (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 08:08:21 AM EST
    that you consider a "blockade" to be a sanction that might push NK into starting a war.  You don't appear to realize that a blockade is an act of war in itself.  You might as well say "let's sanction them by bombing one of their cities, and if it pushes them into a war, oh well."

    Then now you know what you knew (2.00 / 0) (#55)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 08:38:46 AM EST
    ... if you read the complete statement I noted that if it resulted in war by NK, now was the time to do it...

    So I really didn't need the history lesson but then I understand you couldn't resist.

    And no, a blockade is vastly different than bombing a city. You can obviously board ships, let some through, etc.


    There's no history lesson (5.00 / 2) (#56)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 09:48:47 AM EST
    a blockade is an act of war, period.  Pretending like it's just "tougher sanctions" is through the looking glass.

    You still don't get it... (none / 0) (#58)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 10:52:03 AM EST
    Yes, a blockade would be an act of war. I never said otherwise.... The point was this. Would NK respond with an act of war? (In that case we would have a war.)

    Now, explain to me what the mean of is, is.


    Brilliant strategic thinking (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by jondee on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 12:34:35 PM EST
    risk getting into a brinksmanship scenario with North Korea with a war escalating in Afgahnistan and an unstable occupation going on in Iraq.

    Only in lonely, sequestered, I-wish-I-was-Gen Patton fantasyland do these things get acted out.


    As bad as the North Korea (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by jondee on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 03:43:20 PM EST
    is, they're entitled to test thier weapons as much as any other country addicted to sabre rattling and bellicosity is.

    heh (none / 0) (#15)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 04:13:38 PM EST
    Yes, North Korea is equivalent to the US. Yes. Just as trustworthy. Treats its citizens just as well. Always is ready to send aid and assistance to countries that have suffered natural disasters. Uh-huh. Salt of the earth they are.

    American exceptionalism? (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Fabian on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 05:19:55 PM EST
    The only countries who are allowed to fire missiles and test nuclear weapons are the ones America currently likes?

    North Korea is rife with various human rights abuses, but our good friend Israel is no paragon of tolerance, equality and justice either.


    Why drag Israel into this? (none / 0) (#26)
    by Cards In 4 on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 05:48:12 PM EST
    Compared to every country on it's borders it is a paragon of tolerance and justice.  Can you imagine Jordan or Syria or Egypt allowing Jews in their legislative bodies the way Israel has Arabs in the Knesset?  Is Israel ruled by leaders that pass on their power to heirs as Jordan or Syria do or where one guy runs the country for decades as Mubarek has?

    No country is perfect but I hate to think what we would be doing if Canada or Mexico fired rockets over our border or suicide bombers were visting pizza parlors and grocery stores.  I suspect Mexicans and Canadians would get pretty poor treatment by our country.


    Nuclear weapons. (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by Fabian on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 05:56:34 PM EST
    Although I don't recall how Israel acquired them....Did we help them?  I'm glad we aren't such "good friends" with every country.

    Sorry, I'm ever so tired of the stupid Mid East situation, and especially tired of our contribution to it.  There's something deeply ironic about America criticizing any country for being a swaggering bully.


    The French helped Israel, (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Cards In 4 on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 09:12:00 PM EST
    along with Great Britain.  I have never seen anything where they got help from the US.

    Take America out of the intenational (2.00 / 0) (#32)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 06:58:45 PM EST
    scene from say, 1/1/40 onward and see what you would have...

    heh (none / 0) (#21)
    by jondee on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 05:18:20 PM EST
    Idiot: did I say they were the equivalent of the U.S?

    Thanks for illustrating why you think Obama announced he was a Muslim on national television.


    Nasty person aren't you... (1.00 / 1) (#31)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 06:56:21 PM EST
    Idiot? I see you are as nasty as ever. Can't debate without a personal attack.

    Personally, I think an idiot would be a step up for you. No. Several steps up. I find you to be bigoted person who can't make a rational statement.

    And if you were half way intelligent you would know that my comment was about how the talking head:

    And note how quickly George S jumps in to correct him. Think he would have done something similar for McCain or Palin??

    If you do, dear chums, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn

    And yes, your comment implies that they are equal. In fact, that is what it says.



    "comment implies that they are equal" (5.00 / 0) (#34)
    by cymro on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 07:17:34 PM EST
    For you to reach that conclusion, you must have first accepted that the US is a "country addicted to sabre rattling and bellicosity."

    While some of us posting here do believe that to be the case, it is a viewpoint that strikes me as a change of heart for you, PPJ. Maybe reading TalkLeft has contributed to that in some small way?


    No, I don't have to accept that at all (2.00 / 0) (#37)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 08:10:20 PM EST
    and you and jondee understood my response to his untoward remarks.

    I understand English and logic ... (none / 0) (#41)
    by cymro on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 10:42:32 PM EST
    ... do you? Jondee did not mention the US, but you then insisted that his phrase "any other country addicted to sabre rattling and bellicosity" describes the US. Now you are arguing that you do not accept the very thing which you previously insisted was true.

    This is not a middle school debating (none / 0) (#51)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 07:35:52 AM EST

    squeaky wrote what he wrote and it clearly says that NK has the same right to test weapons as everyone else.

    My point is that we are the "shining city on the hill" and they are terrorist enablers, among other things.

    He said that we are equal. I wrote that we are not.

    You understood that so why the word games????


    Hearing Voices Again? (none / 0) (#53)
    by squeaky on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 08:14:31 AM EST
    Better get back on those meds..

    I think you have a shining (none / 0) (#59)
    by jondee on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 11:59:25 AM EST
    point between your ears, Gipper.

    Comparing the behavior of nations and pointing out the concrete reality of the fact that nations with weapons test them, isnt the same thing as making exact equivalents -- moral or otherwise -- between nations.

    But you wantded it to mean that, so you made it mean that; cuz it's so important for you to prove that everyone here but you hates America.


    North Koreans (none / 0) (#60)
    by jondee on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 12:15:47 PM EST
    are forced to obey and conform, for you and the rest of the 25 or 30% to do it willingly, all someone has to do is mention the our freedoms, the flag and Jesus in the same speech a few times.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 03:58:41 PM EST
    I don't really see the alternative.  They're a nation, they exist.  We have to deal with them somehow.

    No (none / 0) (#23)
    by jondee on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 05:22:56 PM EST
    nukes or no nukes, if they keep it up, the chickenhawks are gonna be forced to bring Cheney and Rumsfeld out of retirement and teach 'em a lesson.

    That's China's job. (none / 0) (#28)
    by Fabian on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 05:58:09 PM EST
    We play our part in this drama, but China is the real enforcer - if they need to be.

    Not buying it either. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Cards In 4 on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 03:58:13 PM EST
    NK just wanted to remind people they are too important to ignore.  They are happy just to get their picture taken with Clinton.

    I would have to believe the US has always had back channels into NK and just about any rouge state. Chris Hills must have developed some contacts in the last 10 years. The problem is talking to someone that can actually do anything since by definition there's only one person that matters in a dictatorship.

    "rouge" state (none / 0) (#12)
    by CST on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 04:04:23 PM EST
    Like Alabama?

    Sorry, I couldn't help myself.  I'm the last person that should criticize someone else's spelling but that one was too good to pass up.


    No, Louisiana (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by KeysDan on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 05:29:25 PM EST
    as in Baton.....

    Or France? (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by cymro on Tue Aug 04, 2009 at 07:21:24 PM EST
    as in Moulin ...

    I'm just happy (none / 0) (#45)
    by sallywally on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 12:34:34 AM EST
    the Big Dawg did it.

    Can you imagine... (none / 0) (#57)
    by KoolJeffrey on Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 10:43:58 AM EST
    ...how George W. Bush would have handled this situtation? He couldn't even handle direct contact with reality.

    "President" Dick Cheney probably would have initiated a launch sequence to deploy nuclear weapons until the whole thing was pushed to the brink of disaster.

    The end result would have been counterproductive and only antagonized North Korea, preventing future information gathering and agreements on the development of their strategic weapons.