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Don't fall for North Korea's trap

Rogue states are using US reporters as pawns. Only swift retribution will stop the cynical game.

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With North Korea's conviction and sentencing of two American journalists today to 12 years of prison labor, reporters have again been used as proxies in a cynical game waged by rogue states to gain leverage in negotiations with the West. This follows on the heels of now-freed Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who was released last month in a supposed goodwill gesture by Tehran. These sagas, like so many situations involving rogue states, are little more than manufactured crises designed to wrest concessions.

Already, articles have cropped up in Time magazine and elsewhere pondering how the United States will "reciprocate" the Iranian gesture. The most common theory is that the US will consider releasing three captured Iranian diplomats held in Iraq as part of a quid pro quo arrangement. It would be ill-advised, however, to reward the "reasonable" act of releasing a journalist, given the fact that Ms. Saberi's detention was an unreasonable and provocative act in the first place.

The same is predicted to hold true of the North Koreans, according to one expert, who stated today that "North Korea will certainly use the reporters as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the United States."

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