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Welcome American Friends to Glorious North Korea

August 31, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who died
tragically after being imprisoned by North Korea, was once
President Donald Trump’s poster child for the U.S. administration’s
policy of maximum pressure. Trump even invited Warmbier’s parents
to the State of the Union speech, and his death became another
argument for sanctions and threats of war.

But angry jibes at North Korean brutality disappeared once the
president planned a summit with the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un. At
that meeting, Trump lavished praise on his counterpart. Warmbier,
dead and buried, was a forgotten embarrassment.

Alas, the travel ban triggered by his death lives on, and the
administration has just announced that it’ll be extended for
another year. It has become one more unnecessary obstacle to a
peaceful solution to the North Korean problem. Americans are not
allowed to visit North Korea, the only nation that has such an
absolute ban. (Financial restrictions affect travelers to some
other states, such as Cuba.) Exemptions are available for
humanitarian, journalistic, and other purposes considered to be in
the “national interest,” but most contacts are barred.

Warmbier’s case was perplexing, since Pyongyang always had
wanted its Americans alive, enhancing their trade value. In a
recent GQ magazine
article
, Doug Bock Clark added to earlier statements from
Warmbier’s doctors and coroner to report that there was no evidence
the student was tortured. Experts interviewed by Clark suggested
that Warmbier may have suffered an adverse allergic reaction.
Whatever the cause of his death, the North does not make a regular
habit of kidnapping U.S. tourists. Over the last two decades or so,
17 Americans have been detained. Only five were tourists, one of
whom, Matthew Miller, purposely went out of his way to get
arrested. Others were charged with illegal entry, religious
activities, or other crimes in North Korea’s view.

Letting U.S. tourists
back into the country would be a small but potent move toward
peace.

The ban on visiting the North is twinned with the
administration’s bizarre prohibition on North Koreans entering
America. The restriction grew out of Trump’s botched Muslim ban.
Apparently to demonstrate that his ire was not limited to
Muslim-majority countries, the executive order’s third iteration
added North Korea and Venezuela to the list of forbidden nations.
The administration may have hoped to enhance its policy of maximum
pressure, even though the restriction only affected a handful of
defectors, who should be warmly welcomed, and government officials,
who should be engaged, albeit less warmly. There are no North
Korean tourists to forbid.

The administration should reopen the borders both ways.

Trump has discovered that his June 12 agreement with Kim —
which essentially commits …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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