Even though Jimmy Carter managed to secure the release of a Boston man from North Korea, the former president was "absolutely snubbed" by North Korean regime, said Charles "Jack" Pritchard, who served as a special envoy for negotiations with North Korea under President George W. Bush from April 2001 until September 2003.
Pritchard, who has traveled to North Korea ten times and is one of the few Americans to have contact with the reclusive government, said that the fact that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il decided to go to China with his son -- and visit an elementary school -- instead of meet Carter was a form of diplomatic humiliation for the United States.
He said Carter had received assurances before the trip that he would meet with North Korea's senior leadership.
"Carter must be seething with embarassment," said Pritchard. "The intent was to exact a penalty from the United States and simply say, 'You guys disrespect our laws and you want us to release [Gomes] after he has been found guilty . . . Here is the penalty."
Pritchard said that Gomes was given too harsh a sentence, so it was the right thing to do to get him out. But he said Americans who illegally cross the border into North Korea put the United States in a position of diplomatic begging and give the North Koreans leverage they shouldn't have. Gomes should have known he was going to be arrested and dealt with harshly, he said.
"What was going through his mind? He should have been under no illusion as to what the consequences were going to be. . .Step up and take responsibility, Mr. Gomes."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.