Citizen Clinton has returned home triumphantly.Accompanied by journalist Laura Ling and Euna Lee, sentenced to 12 years of hard labour in a North Korean prison camp, Citizen Clinton's meeting with the DRPK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea aka North Korea] leader Kim Jong il, secured the two women's freedom. Although Mr. Clinton is maintaining the fiction, his was a private visit; he, on a humanitarian mission, it is obvious that the Obama administration's fingerprints are everywhere to be found. Mr. Clinton travelled to Pyongyang with John Podesta, US president Barack Obama's [BOH] transition team hit man, but not a member of BOH's administration and David Staub, a former Korean specialist at the state department; however the other members who journeyed with Citizen Clinton remain unnamed in the mainstream press accounts.
Washington has a reputation for leaks. BOH is playing with his cards close to his chests, and has locked down tight the rumour millions in his administration. The fiction persists that Mr. Clinton acted on his own. It is probably true that he hand Kim Jong il a letter from BOH. Now, Citizen Clinton spent 195 minutes in discussions with the Korean leader. Take away the time to enquire about health, granting a pardon to the two reporters, agreed upon before hand, that still leaders say 180 minutes of unaccounted topics of discussions. [And speaking of health...Kim Jong il almost less stout than in 2008, looked slimmer but hardly fragile as newspapers say. He has recovered from his illness of last fall, and as the FEER [Far Eastern Economic Review]remarked, Mr. Kim is in less dire health than the global media reported.
Unlike Jimmy Carter's 'visite eclaire' to Pyongyang 15 years ago, a trip which earned him the Clinton White House's anger and displeasure, in spite of a breakthough with Kim Il Sung and then years of talks with Kim Jong il, Citizen Clinton's trip was heavily scripted; each step planned in advance. So, it is quite reasonable to believe that he broached the nuclear issues, relaxation of tensions on the divided Korean peninsula, the modalities for direct talks as Mr. Kim's recent pronouncements seek, so on and on and on.
Citizen Clinton's success brought immediate cheers from the mainstream press and politicians and instant relief for the Liang and Lee families. It met with general popular approval from the US public. Thus, it kept the naysayers and the hardliners quiet for the moment. Had they attacked Clinton or even BOH, they would run a backlash and a setback. They prefer instead to await for a more propitious moment to draw their daggers. And BOH is not giving them an inch. The White House remains mum until such time that it can make more political hay out of Citizen Clinton's tour de force.
Mr. Clinton's visit cleared the air for further direct discussions with the DPRK. The naysayers however are stirring, but they're aiming at the wrong targets: Bill Clinton and his wife US secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Mme. Clinton has not tempered her hardline towards Pyongyang nor has she stopped lecturing on what it should do to gain US and international favour.
Nevertheless BOH & co. will stick to its cover story that Citizen Clinton was on a purely humanitarian mission. Wink, wink, wink!
Judging by the initial reaction of the mainstream media, Charlie Rose will serve as an instructive sample. In a 15 minute segment, especially added for his 4 August 2009 programme, he interviewed Glenn Kessler of 'the Washington Post' and strategic arms analyst Joseph Cirincione of the Plowshare Fund. All three were upbeat. A win for America! At times Rose had to prompt Kessler who less than enthusiastic. Cirincione was buoyant, adding that Bill Clinton wasn't a naeme that first came to BHO, but it did to Kim Jong il. Mr. Clinton is respected for his moderate tone towards the DPRK in contrast to the George Bush's mean spirited and deleterious approach towards North Korea.Al Gore's name was bruited but the two imprisoned journalist worked for him. Mr.Kim knew what he was doing when he asked for Citizen Clinton, and flash, BOH signed on but held the ebullient Bill Clinton on a tight lease and well rehearsed lines. All three men repeated in one form or another that it was a big win for the US, Cirercione putting it rather crudely 'for peanuts'. And this from a man who graduated from Georgetown School of Diplomacy! And yet, neither Rose nor Kessler nor Cirincione nor Kessler even bother to mention that BOH after his own fashion was responding to Kim Jong il's call for direct negotiations within the last 10 days.
Citizen Clinton's image emerges enhance. The ball now lies in BOH's court on how to proceed from here. Kim Jong il has opened the door, BOH has only to walk through it.