A Mercury News editorial reads in part:
Former President Bill Clinton's … securing the release of California journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee from North Korea is a reminder of the value of diplomacy. Not caving to the enemy, not pandering to terrorists, but the art of getting things done without having to launch a missile or an invasion. When lives are at stake, you just can't beat it.
Clinton had pursued diplomatic relations with North Korea as president. George W. Bush axed that initiative and turned his back on diplomacy in general, preferring military action and the my-way-or-the-highway school of international relations. Eight years later, the North Korea problem — essentially, a loony dictator developing nuclear weapons — presents a far greater danger to the world.
Obama has hardly cozied up to Kim Jong Il. Since Korean missile tests earlier this year, Kim and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been exchanging verbal grenades. Yet the world will be safer if Kim can be edged out of isolation and into multinational talks.
Critics of the Clinton rescue complain that Kim got something out of it — basically, a photo op. Was that worth the lives of Ling and Lee? Of course it was. If it also serves to reduce tensions, so much the better. This is how diplomacy works.