The Plank

"a Hostage Ransom"

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That's how Charles Krauthammer derisively refers to Bill Clinton's trip to Pyongyang, which Krauthammer speculates must have involved some kind of secret payoff, perhaps in the form of fuel or food supplies, to Kim Jong Il.

Maybe so; at minimum, clearly we would have preferred not to give Kim what was undeniably a propaganda coup. But hostage negotiations are never easy, and I wonder whether Krauthammer--were he in a position to free those women himself--would simply let them rot.

After all, even the right's cherished embodiment of American machismo, Ronald Reagan, was willing to trade arms for hostages.

--Michael Crowley

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