Sunday, May 24, 2009

With respect to the arrest of two Americans in North Korea, US State Department Ian Kelly complained last week that he is "not aware of any kind of reasons that have been given to us as to why they’re denying consular access, which, of course, is contrary to the Vienna Convention." I don't understand where Kelly's complaint comes from, nor his appeal to international conventions, which has not been a major concern of the American government. His country, of course, is the one that picks people up in foreign countries, holds them in another foreign country and then denies them rights accorded by foreign conventions.

The sad result is that America lacks justification in crying foul at the arrest and treatment of the two journalists. The two ostensibly crossed into North Korea from China with the predictable result of being arrested. A trial has been set for next month, and access to Swedish diplomats who represent America in North Korea has been denied. I have a hard time seeing America's point here: nothing this country has done of late suggests that there is something wrong with arbitrarily arresting and detaining foreign nationals on your territory, particularly under the catch-all mumbo jumbo of national security.

Lang and Lee have done valuable work in focusing attention of any kind on North Korea, but their government comes across as a hypocrite in defending them.

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