August 7 2009
A scholar for a conservative-leaning woman's organization is joining the chorus of skeptics who suspect a deal of some sort was made in order for former President Bill Clinton to secure the release this week of two journalists held by North Korea.
Among the skeptics is former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who told Agence France-Press there is a potential downside to the Clinton-negotiated release -- the United States may once again be rewarding North Korean bad behavior. Bolton said it was hard to imagine that Clinton would not have discussed the nuclear issue during his visit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il.
However, a senior Obama administration official has insisted that Clinton's mission did not include any discussions about issues beyond the release of 32-year-old Laura Ling and 36-year-old Euna Lee, who work for former Vice President Al Gore's Current TV.
Julie Gunlock, a senior fellow with the Independent Women's Forum, has her doubts.
"I don't believe for a second that Bill Clinton, through the power of persuasion and through his own charm, was able to get these women released," she offers. "Kim Jong-Il is not known as being a great humanitarian, and I don't think he does anything without a payoff."
Regardless, Gunlock says the North Koreans already have accomplished two objectives. "They want legitimacy from Washington -- and they want to be accepted as a nuclear weapons state," she outlines. "They got that respect and legitimacy from Washington with Bill Clinton going over there."
Gunlock says the question now going forward is whether the North Koreans are going to insist on high-level bilateral nuclear talks with the United States instead of the Six-Party Talks which have taken place in the past.