Do not allow thug nations to use American hostages as bargaining chips

There was, as usual, a contentious bit of debate between Marie Harf and the conservative panelists on Fox News Outnumbered show this afternoon. Miss Harf, who was part of the negotiations concerning a prisoner exchange with Iran during the nuclear agreement talks, claimed that the Iranians presented a huge list of prisoners they wanted released, and the United States whittled that list down, all men that the Department of Justice said would pose no national security threats to the United States.

I have no intention of either agreeing or disagreeing that the released Iranians pose no threat to the United States. Rather, I wish to point out that any American who willingly travels to a thug country like Iran or North Korea. From the relatively worthless USA Today:

North Korea seizes another American citizen as crisis heats up

John Bacon | USA TODAY | Published 9:36 a.m. ET May 7, 2017 | Updated 4:00 PM

North Korea announced Sunday that it detained another American over the weekend, raising to four the number of U.S. citizens being held by the communist nation’s authoritarian regime.

Kim Hak-song had worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, the same school where American Tony Kim had worked prior to being arrested at Pyongyang International Airport two weeks ago, North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency said.

Few details on Kim Hak-song or his arrest were immediately available. KCNA said he was detained Saturday on suspicion of committing “hostile acts” and that a “detailed investigation into his crimes” was underway.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement saying it was aware of the detention reports. The department works with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which serves as the United States’ Protecting Power in North Korea in dealing with such matters, the statement said. The U.S. has no direct diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.

“The security of U.S. citizens is one of the Department’s highest priorities,” the statement said.

PUSTThere’s more at the original. Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) is North Korea’s first privately funded university. It is founded, operated, and partly funded by associations and people outside the country. PUST was jointly planned and constructed by forces from the North and the South Korea, along with contributions from groups and individuals from other nations, in particular China and the USA. The initiative is largely funded by Evangelical Christian movements. Originally scheduled for launch in 2003, the project was delayed for several years and began operations in October 2010.

A couple of obvious questions:

  1. What are any Americans doing helping to fund a college in North Korea which trains people in science and technology? The only thing that this can be doing is helping the regime of Kim Jung-un to advance militarily.
  2. What are any Americans doing in a country which seizes Americans to use as hostages and bargaining chips? This can only give that thug regime more leverage over their home country.

If there is one thing that the Trump Administration can do, simply, easily and quickly, is to announce that any Americans who are so fornicating stupid as to travel willingly to North Korea, or Iran, are on their own. The United States should wash its hands of American citizens who set themselves up to be bargaining chips for brutal regimes, and Iran and North Korea have demonstrated histories of taking Americans hostage for such purposes.

Is that harsh? Yup, sure is! But the United States should not bargain with terrorists, and allowing the lives of Americans stupid enough to be a detriment to American foreign policy is misguided, irresponsible and just plain wrong.