From today's Politico:
"Confrontation has not been notably more successful. George W. Bush for most of his presidency was a diplomacy skeptic who labeled North Korea part of the “Axis of Evil.” But the regime continued with its aggressive behavior and its bomb-building capacity flourished during the Bush years.
Clinton’s trip, and the rush of publicity it has occasioned, will renew the U.S. debate about whether coaxing or confrontation is the right approach to North Korea.
“North Korea does this all the time. They do all these provocations and get everyone all pissed off until someone comes and helps them off that ledge,” observed Victor Cha, who was Director for Asian affairs at the White House from 2004-2007 and is now Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Dan Senor, a Bush administration official now with the Council on Foreign Relations, said: “It’s unlikely that [dictator] Kim Jong II would have agreed to a pardon [of the journalists] without something tangible in return. No matter how justified, given the lives on the line, those tangibles may make some people nervous, especially among our allies in the region.”
Yet another Bush veteran, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton , was even more skeptical: “Obviously everyone is happy that the two hostages have been released, but whenever you’re in a situation like this you want to make sure that the result doesn’t make it more difficult in trying to deal with future hostage situations.”
Bolton added that North Koreans will “see this as weakness and they will link the hostage situation to the nuclear weapons program.” "
We can be sure that many Conservative "pundits" will try to "translate" President Clinton's success in freeing these two American hostages from North Korea into a diplomatic defeat for President Obama.