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Snatching Americans

Roxana Saberi’s sentence was suspended and she is free to leave the country, according to her lawyer. This is wonderful news for her and her family. And now we can expect Iran to claim “credit” for this act of beneficence, for the swift and professional operation of their “justice” system. I suspect the Obama administration will oblige with some statement of “gratitude” but this is all bunk, of course. The Iranians deserve no credit for grabbing an American citizen, imprisoning her in the hell hole of Evin prison and then springing her before the Iranian election to gain brownie points for “getting along” with the U.S. The administration is foolish indeed if it perceives this as a positive sign.

But if we are looking for a “sign,” the capture of two Americans by the North Koreans (along with Pyongyang’s heightened confrontational behavior) should put to rest any notion that there is potential for meaningful discussion with that regime. The Wall Street Journal reports:

U.S. officials have said less about Ms. Lee and Ms. Ling than they have about an American reporter, Roxana Saberi, who was recently convicted of espionage in Iran. The strategy is partly a gamble that not provoking the North Koreans may lead to a speedy resolution, analysts say, but it’s also a sign of the increased uncertainty in dealing with Pyongyang.

U.S. officials have said little about the journalists’ situation, but have indicated they aren’t making progress with Pyongyang. A person not in government who is familiar with the situation said that North Korea isn’t talking to the U.S. at all.

[. .  .]

In another sign of his growing alienation from the international community, Mr. Kim didn’t meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his visit to Pyongyang two weeks ago, though Russia is an ally.

So much for offering up “nonproliferation” and “setting an example” for others to follow. It will be interesting to see what the the White House’s reaction is to a regime so unwilling to profess any admiration or affection for Obama. How does one deal with a regime that can’t be charmed out of its totalitarian impulses? I’m sure the administration is stumped.



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