In the art of war, diplomacy can be the most effective weapon. This week, former President Clinton was personally requested by North Korea's shady leader to secure the release of two Cali journalists who had been detained in the mysterious totalitarian state for five months. Media reports clowned Hillary for getting upstaged by her husband once again. Well, let 'em hate. Bill's narcissistic charm paid off and the Current TV employees returned to Cali where they likely headed straight to their medicinal cafe to unwind.
Running game and bullshitting foreign adversaries is absolutely mandatory for diplomatic warriors. The stakes are high. Success is rewarded with medals of valor; failure forever threatens one's legacy. So here's a rundown of some recent diplomatic jail-breaks where the gift of gab saved the gift of life...
5. Jesse Jackson, Syria, 1984
Before President Obama was taking overseas trips as a candidate, presidential hopeful, Jesse Jackson, was negotiating high-stake hostage releases in Syria. U.S. Navy Pilot, Lt. Robert Goodman, was shot down in Lebanon while on a bombing mission and got detained by Syrian authorities. Jackson assembled a missionary posse, which even included Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and helped secure Goodman's release after a month of imprisonment. When President Reagan realized he was being an asshole for initially criticizing Jackson's mission, he decided to celebrate Goodman's return at the White House. Now about that Oliver North guy...
4. Bill Richardson, Iraq, 1995
Richardson is a professional two-faced schmoozer. Dude has an extensive track-record of brokering deals to release humans from captivity. His most high profile face-to-face negotiation was with Saddam "WMD" Hussein, who had incarcerated two U.S. engineers after they crossed the Iraqi border from Kuwait. While he successfully convinced Uday's dad to eventually let the Americans go, it wasn't until after he offended the former Iraqi leader by crossing his legs and showing the sole of his shoe. Subliminal shots? I see what you did there, Bill.
3. Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Iran, 2007
When Iran's Revolutionary Guard seized 15 British sailors after they allegedly entered Iranian territory, a diplomatic crisis engulfed Downing Street. Tension escalated after Blair kinda snitched on Iran at the U.N. Security Council for the detainment, resulting in the captors releasing humiliating apology videos from the Royal Navy prisoners. Hoping to avoid a military response, the Brits sent in their cloak-and-dagger diplomat who was more Austin Powers than James Bond. Telephonic deal-making ensued and all prisoners were eventually released after about a week. Yeah baby, yeah...
2. Tariq Azizuddin is detained in Afghanistan, 2008
At times, release missions require a level of flexibility that results in prisoner swaps. Win/win, sorta? Such was allegedly the case last year when Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan, Tariq Azizuddin, was kidnapped by Mujahideen on his way to work in Kabul. His captors milked the coverage with the ambition of a leading PR company, dropping statements, vlogs, the whole nine. A murky closed-doors negotiation process ended with the release of Azizuddin and his shooter. Despite continued denials, it was widely believed that Pakistan delivered 20 million Pakistani rupees and let about 50 Mujahideen prisoners go free in return. Don't front, that's what you call strategic kidnapping.
1. Bill Clinton, North Korea, 2009
It's probably a positive diplomatic sign when a captor requests the presence of a particular statesman to broker a deal. Journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling were unexpectedly met by Bubba who took them home on his private jet in lieu of his wife's presence. Awkward.