No child left behind? Otto Warmbier’s death highlights government’s responsibility for citizens abroad

by WorldTribune Staff, June 27, 2017

Did the Obama administration leave U.S. citizen Otto Warmbier to die in North Korea?.

Warmbier, a 22-year-old U.S. college student who, while visiting North Korea as a tourist in January 2016, was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being convicted of stealing a propaganda banner from his hotel, died on June 19 after returning from North Korea in a coma.

Otto Warmbier

“The continued inaction of the Obama administration over the course of Otto’s story serves as a notice to Americans who believe that government works in their best interest,” John Bianchi wrote in an analysis for American Lens on June 23.

“ ‘No man left behind’ is the mantra of all U.S. military. No child left behind is a U.S. education moniker and was used as a name for a Bush education law. Otto Warmbier can fit into both categories as both a man and a student – yet our country arguably left him behind,” Bianchi wrote, adding that it is clear that Warmbier “was denied two integral rights granted to him by the Constitution: a jury of his peers and the protection of the United States government.”

Warmbier’s case should have been a top priority for the Obama State Department, but it “appears it was not,” Bianchi wrote.

In an April 2017 interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Fred Warmbier, Otto’s father, said that American and foreign diplomats had “absolutely not” helped in any way to free his son.

When asked if the former Secretary of State, John Kerry, had tried to help or in any way taken an interest in freeing his son directly, Warmbier flatly told Carlson, “No, absolutely not.” This was more than 400 days after Warmbier’s imprisonment.

“Should we should limit ourselves rather than trust that our elected officials, sworn to protect our rights, will fight for us when necessary?,” Bianchi wrote. “That is a chilling reality.”

Bianchi continued: “Either Americans choose to refrain from visiting certain countries, doing so at their own peril, or the U.S. government takes a hard-diplomatic approach toward countries who would make political theater out of the life of an American citizen.

“Wars have been fought over less and although war may not have been the answer in this situation, numerous political pressures could have been applied to secure Otto’s release. It seems none of these were even attempted.”

Thomas Jefferson said that “the care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”

“This much is certain,” Bianchi wrote, “whatever your views on how much or how little government should be involved in the life of its citizens, we delegate the power of protection so that we can feel safe from criminals both at home and abroad.”


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