Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Harsh Penalties for Poor Judgement

So former President Clinton is in North Korea to negotiate the return of the two journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who strayed across the border to investigate a story last March. It was a story worth pursuing, certainly, but to knowingly go into North Korea illegally was one of the worst examples of poor judgement by journalists in recent history. These are not stupid women; they knew how unstable North Korea's dictator is and yet they took a chance, thereby setting up an international incident that could have plunged us into war and, incidentally, getting themselves sentenced to a labor camp. What in the world were they thinking?

I hope they have learned that there are limits you just don't cross in investigative reporting. Meanwhile I feel very sorry for their families who have been put through hell.

Now we have another instance of very poor judgement. Who in their right minds would decide that Iraq was a good place to take a vacation in 2009? Apparently four young Americans thought it was a great place to go hiking. One didn't feel well so he stayed in the Iraqi hotel. However, the other three ignored warnings by hotel management that the nearby border was unmarked and easy to cross accidentally. Off they went, blithely hiking through the countryside. They have been arrested in Iran. Oops, they crossed the border. Once again, poor judgement by young people has put them, along with the U.S., in a terrible position.

I remember feeling immortal when I was young too. Nothing could possibly happen to me. Fortunately my adventures were mild in comparison so I survived to grower wiser and more cautious without suffering the consequences of taking chances. These five young people defied common sense and, I'm sure, knowledge of the danger involved in their actions. When they are all safely back in this country, I think they should be held accountable for what they did to U.S.-Korea and U.S.-Iran relations.

I hope their example gives others pause when contemplating similar adventures.

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