Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Richardson Campaign Ends in North Korea
Kenneth R. Timmerman
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson may have just ended his fledgling
campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, shipwrecked on the
rocky coast of North Korea.
Although Richardson's trip to North Korea was authorized by the
White House, how it played out must have come to a surprise to White
House advisors, let alone to Richardson himself.
The former energy secretary and popular New Mexico Democrat had
gone to the hermit kingdom to claim the remains of six U.S. soldiers
killed during the Korean War. He was also expected to deliver a tough
message from Washington, that the United States expected North Korea to
uphold the 60-day deadline that expires next week for shutting down its
nuclear weapons programs.
Instead, Richardson was sandbagged by his North Korean hosts
yesterday when he was taken on a guided tour of the USS Pueblo, the
"spy ship" attacked and seized by North Korea in international waters
on Jan. 23, 1968. One U.S. sailor was killed during the North Korean
The Pueblo's 82-man crew was held hostage by the communist regime
for 11 months. North Korea has never paid a price for its act of piracy.
Veterans of the ship have set up a memorial Web site to keep
alive the memory of their captivity and to document how they were
abandoned by the U.S. Navy during an authorized mission to gather
intelligence in international waters off North Korea's coasts.
Today the ship is moored in the Taedong river in the capital,
Pyongyang. Schoolchildren are taken on guided tours of the ship to see
the face of American "imperialism." While on board the Pueblo,
Richardson gamely watched a propaganda film denouncing the United
States, and was captured in the act by NBC News reporter Andrea
Footage of Richardson on the Pueblo, standing alongside his
smirking North Korea hosts, will haunt him for their rest of his
political career. His posture will be compared unfavorably to the 1988
campaign photographs of Michael Dukakis trying to ride a tank.
Richardson's outrageous kow-towing to the North Koreans makes Dukakis
look like an all-American hero, or a four-star general.
This is what happens when the White House tries to placate the
opposition party by sending a leading Democrat on a diplomatic mission
that should be reserved for professional diplomats. When Richardson
realized he was being taken to the Pueblo, he should have politely
refused the North Korean offer. Instead, he chose to play to the
"You don't have to be a professional diplomat to understand the
‘I spit on your grave' transaction the North Koreans were proposing,"
says American Enterprise Institute scholar Nicholas Eberstadt. But
Richardson is not the first high-ranking U.S. visitor to serve as a
"stage-prop" for North Korean propaganda.
In one of her last official visits as secretary of state in
December 2000, Madeline Albright visited North Korea and was "dancing
in the streets" at a huge propaganda festival arranged in her honor,
As for the Pueblo, Eberstadt said the North Koreans regularly
trot it out when "it's serious shakedown time," then put it back into
In October 2002, the North Koreans were actually prepared to
return the Pueblo to the State Department, but misread the intentions
of a U.S. delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly.
"They thought Kelly was bearing gifts, not coming to challenge them on
their secret uranium enrichment program," Ebertstadt told NewsMax. When
they realized his true intention, they put the ship back into
mothballs, he added.
Eberstadt's latest book, "The North Korean Economy between Crisis
and Catastrophe," will be released by Transaction books on April 17.