When a young, promising life is snuffed out violently and unnecessarily, there is always reason for sorrow. Such was the case with University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier who passed away after being held captive and likely tortured in North Korea almost exactly one year ago. President Trump resurrected Warmbier’s memory subsequent to signing a historical denuclearization agreement in Singapore today. Trump referred to the college student’s untimely death, saying he, “did not die in vain.”
Mr. Trump paid homage to the 22-year-old college student while discussing details of the U.S.-N.K. summit saying, “I think without Otto, this would not have happened.” The president continued, “I think from that day it was a terrible thing, it was brutal, but a lot of people started to focus on what was going on – including North Korea. I really think that Otto is someone who did not die in vain. I told this to his parents.”
As reported by Liberty Nation’s Nathan Steelwater last June 15th, Warmbier suffered “extensive brain damage” and passed away shortly after being returned home from his detention in North Korea. At that time Steelwater wrote:
Despite his ill-advised tour of North Korea and alleged attempt to steal a propaganda poster, the treatment that he and other prisoners (there are three Americans still imprisoned in North Korea) received is unacceptable. So too is the Obama administration’s failure to act. The difference in reaction between the Trump and Obama administrations demonstrates a clear contrast in foreign policy. While the Obama Administration was content to use “strategic patience” (words echoed in Fred Warmbier’s statement), President Trump is taking a decidedly more proactive approach to North Korea.
What a difference a year and a president seem to make. God only knows what happened to the UVA student at the hands of the brutal N.K. dictatorship. But with the kind and thoughtful remarks of the president, while commanding the world stage, his parents must undoubtedly feel a modicum of respite from the unending grief of losing a child.
Obama on the Hot Seat
Otto Warmbier spent 17 months in prison after taking an unadvised side trip to North Korea and attempted theft of a propaganda poster which he planned to bring back home. After some tough talk from President Trump, Warmbier was released and sent back to the U.S., only to die six days later.
One has to wonder if the young man would be alive today had the Obama administration pressed his case as Mr. Trump has done. At the time of his son’s death, Otto’s father took aim at Obama saying, “The question is, do I think
the past administration could have done more?” Then he answered the query with, “I think the results speak for themselves.”
For his part, President Obama countered that during his administration there was “no higher priority than securing the release of Americans detained overseas.” Warmbier was taken into custody in North Korea in January of 2016. Trump did not take office until a full year later.
A widely published columnist, Leesa previously worked in the broadcast news industry as a television news anchor, reporter, and producer at NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates in Charlotte, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC.She is the author of "Free At Last: A Life-Changing Journey through the Gospel of Luke."