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Freed Journalists Lead to Embrace!

I didn’t watch the triumphant homecoming of Laura Ling and Euna Lee…the two journalists who were jailed in North Korea, since March.

The TV was playing in the background so I know they arrived.

I’m sure their relatives, friends, employers are happy to see them and I would too, in their place.

What I care about right now is bringing home military personnel captured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I’m all for evacuating nationals when there’s a disaster, a coup, a plague etc. And I don’t like it, either, when fellow journalists get captured on the job. We expect these journalists to take risks, to get up close and dodge bullets so those of us at home can know what’s happening in these remote locations.

My struggle is: (1) How indebted should your country be to you when you break another country’s rules, enter forbidden territory and knowingly take risks? We lose out when journalists are not there, taking those risks, but how far should they go – how far do we want/expect them to go? Are they working for the country – or their network? Don’t they often get more money and greater prestige the more risks they take? It’s nice when the government steps in…but should it always?

(2) Whom do we treat as “real” journalists? New York Times reporters? What if it’s a blogger, who may or may not be a journalist…like me?

In listening to the commentary about the freed journalists, some people say this just gives countries like North Korea the leverage to act badly and get rewarded with a high profile visit from a powerhouse like former president Bill Clinton. They claim it will embolden the Irans of the world to try similar stunts.

To me, all this attention, diplomacy, time and money spent negotiating these releases (plane was paid for privately) should now be focussed on military personnel who are missing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

23-year-old Bowe Bergdahl, disappeared from his base in Afghanistan (July 2009), and was later seen in a Taliban video posted online. Bergdahl was serving with an infantry regiment at Fort Richardson in Anchorage. Where is he?

Dianne Feinstein, of course (the Senator from California) speaking as a politician, says: American citizens are in trouble overseas – we must rescue American citizens in trouble overseas? Really? If Americans go to China and take part in anti-government protests that the Chinese say is illegal, and officials sweep them up, we must rescue them, too? Where does it stop?

If religious people rush to Iraq to impose their version of God on the Muslims, and are arrested, should we go free them? I think Jesus will come and free them, since they’re doing his work, not the state’s…and if he doesn’t free them, like he did for Paul, (and Silas, Acts 16:25-28) then he either (a) just doesn’t support what they’re doing and couldn’t care less or (b) it’s his will that they sit in that prison and convert the prisoners.

On the other hand:

Why don’t we just say it’s a game we’re playing with whichever country happens to be holding the hostages, and that even if it was Ronald McDonald, we’d want him back!?

If we manage, through our offensives – charm or military – to free hostages, then it looks like we’ve won! AND, if it brings North Korea to the negotiating table, then send strategic “hostages” to every troublesome corner of the globe! I’ll support that!

One U.S. official says President Clinton talked to North Koreans about the “positive things that could flow” from freeing the two women”. Some analysts apparently think now that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has gotten his high-profile visit from a former president (he didn’t want a former VICE-president, and turned Al Gore down) that could open the way to direct nuclear disarmament talks.

Plus, it was worth it to see Gore embrace Clinton.

Guess he’s not mad about his lost election anymore!

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