So word has just broken that Bill Clinton has had a successful trip to North Korea - primarily that he was able to obtain a "special pardon" by Kim Jong-Il of the two female journalists that were being held there, Laura Ling and Euna Lee.
Regardless of your politics, this story has continued to haunt me since the women were arrested and sentenced. In the midst of the never ending exhausting "special Michael Jackson coverage" (how long ago did he die?) every once and a while you'd see coverage of these two women's plight and it affected me deeply. They had been sentenced to "12 years hard labor" in a prison camp and reports were that this was a rather brutal situation to be in. Both women were apart from their families, afraid, separated from children (for Euna) and all, arguably, so that they could simply be pawns in what has been an escalating international political "mine is bigger than yours" contest. [I don't mean to make light of some of the serious political issues at stake here, but if you follow it all, its been rather frustrating]
So anyway, back to my point. Today, Bill Clinton completed a top-secret trip to North Korea and is returning with Laura and Euna. Again, this is not a political post - I'm not making any statement positive or negative on Bill Clinton as a president or man, but I did find myself wondering, as this all was going down, what kind of special gift it takes to negotiate such a successful resolution to a scary scary situation.
I did take classes in negotiation in College. Its hard to negotiate well even when the stakes are "just" a class exercise and getting a good grade. I can't imagine the pressure of having to go into a conversation with very little wiggle room on what you want when the issue at hand is people's lives. To boot, arguably, Kim Jong-Il has not represented himself publicly to be the most sensitive to American positions or pressures. How do you handle that kind of sensitive dealing?
I would love to know what President Clinton said, how he said it, what he did, and how it all really went down. For someone to go into such a situation that seems so hopeless and garner success is something to be respected. There may be naysayers of what happened, and other details may come to light later, but, for now, I stand in great respect of someone who can skillfully work through the toughest of issues with the toughest of opponents.
Think about how hard it is to even negotiate a deal on a car? How do you negotiate to save two women's lives? Its a skill, and it was put to good use today. Thank you, President Clinton.
2 weeks ago