Trump credits death of Otto Warmbier as impetus for summit with Kim

Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old Virginia college student who died upon his return home from a stint in a North Korean prison, was recognized by Donald Trump as the catalyst that brought about the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the president.

Fox News:

President Trump said Tuesday after his historic summit with North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un that the meeting between the two leaders may not have happened if not for the death of Otto Warmbier.

Warmbier, 22, was a student at the University of Virginia when he was arrested in North Korea in January 2016 for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster.  He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fell into a coma while incarcerated.  He was brought back to the U.S. in June 2017 only to die a few days later.

"Otto did not die in vain," Trump said as he discussed North Korea's human rights record.

Trump's comments on Warmbier came after Vice President Mike Pence reassured the Ohio man's father when he spoke to him ahead of the Singapore summit.

"Today I assured his dad, as the president said two days ago, their beloved son, Otto Warmbier, will not have died in vain," Pence said.

The vice president commended Trump on his success thus far with North Korea, speaking of that country's participation in the Winter Olympics, the suspension of all ballistic missile testing and, recently, the release of three American hostages.

Clearly, the death of Warmbier affected Trump in an emotional way.  It highlighted the necessity of having better relations with North Korea – if not friendly, at least a lot less antagonistic. 

And for the families of Korean war soldiers whose remains have been kept for 65 years, good news:

Trump said during the news conference that the remains of Americans who died during the Korean War will also be brought home.  He said it was a last minute deal and expected more than 6,000 Americans' remains to be brought back to the U.S.

The death of young Mr. Warmbier was not a tragedy.  It was state-sponsored murder.  The attitude of the North Korean government toward Americans almost certainly gave license to prison guards to brutally mistreat U.S. citizens. 

Would a change in that attitude lead to better treatment for Americans at the hands of the North Koreans?  We have citizens incarcerated in countries all over the world – some for good cause, others not.  The standard of treatment for them varies a lot, but there are few countries where the state encourages mistreatment of Americans. 

The point is, better relations with the North could very well mean that those Americans unfortunate enough to be imprisoned will fare better than Otto Warmbier.  Trumped up charges of espionage notwithstanding, the practice of taking Americans prisoner and holding them as hostages may become a rarity.

There are going to be other Americans taken prisoner by North Korea in the future.  The president and the U.S. government should take careful note of whether treatment of them while in captivity improves or not.

Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old Virginia college student who died upon his return home from a stint in a North Korean prison, was recognized by Donald Trump as the catalyst that brought about the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the president.

Fox News:

President Trump said Tuesday after his historic summit with North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un that the meeting between the two leaders may not have happened if not for the death of Otto Warmbier.

Warmbier, 22, was a student at the University of Virginia when he was arrested in North Korea in January 2016 for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster.  He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fell into a coma while incarcerated.  He was brought back to the U.S. in June 2017 only to die a few days later.

"Otto did not die in vain," Trump said as he discussed North Korea's human rights record.

Trump's comments on Warmbier came after Vice President Mike Pence reassured the Ohio man's father when he spoke to him ahead of the Singapore summit.

"Today I assured his dad, as the president said two days ago, their beloved son, Otto Warmbier, will not have died in vain," Pence said.

The vice president commended Trump on his success thus far with North Korea, speaking of that country's participation in the Winter Olympics, the suspension of all ballistic missile testing and, recently, the release of three American hostages.

Clearly, the death of Warmbier affected Trump in an emotional way.  It highlighted the necessity of having better relations with North Korea – if not friendly, at least a lot less antagonistic. 

And for the families of Korean war soldiers whose remains have been kept for 65 years, good news:

Trump said during the news conference that the remains of Americans who died during the Korean War will also be brought home.  He said it was a last minute deal and expected more than 6,000 Americans' remains to be brought back to the U.S.

The death of young Mr. Warmbier was not a tragedy.  It was state-sponsored murder.  The attitude of the North Korean government toward Americans almost certainly gave license to prison guards to brutally mistreat U.S. citizens. 

Would a change in that attitude lead to better treatment for Americans at the hands of the North Koreans?  We have citizens incarcerated in countries all over the world – some for good cause, others not.  The standard of treatment for them varies a lot, but there are few countries where the state encourages mistreatment of Americans. 

The point is, better relations with the North could very well mean that those Americans unfortunate enough to be imprisoned will fare better than Otto Warmbier.  Trumped up charges of espionage notwithstanding, the practice of taking Americans prisoner and holding them as hostages may become a rarity.

There are going to be other Americans taken prisoner by North Korea in the future.  The president and the U.S. government should take careful note of whether treatment of them while in captivity improves or not.