When Euna Lee and Laura Ling’s plane landed at Burbank airport Wednesday morning it was a tremendous relief for these journalists and their families. The homecoming reception and statements were heartwarming. However this episode sent a louder message: diplomacy works!
Negotiators tell us when two parties enter into negotiation, there is always a win-win situation. The trick is finding it. In this case Kim Jong-Il wanted to meet the Big Dog and we wanted the journalists back. This of course oversimplifies all the back channel negotiations that went on, but everyone walked away with what they wanted.
Sure there were a few who criticized the effort. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton (now there’s a diplomat), said it was a huge mistake:
This is to be expected. The success of this mission calls into question his position on dealing with the rest of the world. But seriously, what were we suppose to do? Call in the A-Team and have them bust Lee and Ling out of prison? Let them rot in North Korea? Diplomacy was the only reasonable course of action. My guess is had it been Bolton’s daughter, he’d be whistling a different tune.
Will this lead to greater diplomatic efforts by the U.S.? We can only hope.