Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Another Journalist Nabbed

The New York Times reports:

North Korea said Friday that it had decided to indict two American journalists who have been detained for more than five weeks on charges of illegally entering the country and committing “hostile acts.”

“Our related agency has completed its investigation of the American journalists,” North Korea’s state-run news agency, KCNA, reported. “It has formally decided to put them on trial based on confirmed criminal data.”

Both work for a media company founded by Al Gore and were “reporting on the North Korean refugees who fled hunger at home and were living in hiding in China.”

Well, why do we suppose this occurred? Could it be that North Koreans observed the Obama administration’s mealy-mouthed reaction to the nabbing of Roxana Saberi by Iran and figured they could get away with it, too? Was it perhaps a calculation that if we could only muster a belated UN resolution (after the North Korean missile shot) promising to get around to implementing sanctions, then we might not be inclined to confront them over something as “small” as the capture of two American citizens.

This is how totalitarian aggressors behave. They observe and pounce when they perceive weakness. And we know from experience more of this will follow unless our rhetoric and conduct suggest a heavy price to be paid for this sort of thing. The most fundamental responsibility the U.S. government owes its citizens is protection from hostile governments whether at home or traveling abroad. It is a sorry state of affairs to see that we are not fulfilling that basic function and that it is now open season on those, primarily journalists, traveling in hostile regimes. The president might want to hit the reset button on his strategy with rogue states.