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Why Do People Go to Russia, China, and North Korea?

Why Do People Go to Russia, China, and North Korea?
By Todd Strandberg

We need to ban all US citizens from going to nations run by Dictators. I would never visit a country where the leadership could willy-nilly decide to prevent me from leaving their domain. By going to a nation like Russia, China, and North Korea, people are providing them with tourist money, and they are lending them legitimacy.

I would not even want to fly over a nation run by a tyrant. Last year the government of Belarus forced a commercial flight to land in the country so they could arrest dissident journalist Raman Protasevich. A Ryanair flight bound for Lithuania was forced to land because Belarus officials reported a bomb threat. When the flight reached the tarmac, officials from the country’s security forces loaded passengers onto airport buses and took the journalist into custody. Pratasevich was captured because he criticized President Alexander Lukashenko.

The reason why we need a travel ban is that this has turned into a game where dictators like to have a constant supply of hostages so they can trade them for criminals that we have on our side. The latest pawn is basketball star Brittney Griner. She was arrested at Moscow’s main airport when it was discovered that she had hash oil in her luggage.

Our standard policy on Griner should be “if can’t do the time, don’t do the crime,” but no, we took the bait, and a “free Brittney” movement has popped up. Now that Griner’s name is constantly in the news, there is no way Moscow is going to let her go free. She is currently on trial and will obviously get the maximum penalty.

You know it’s officially become a media circus when the Rev. Al Sharpton shows up. He is seeking the administration’s help in securing a clergy visit to see Griner in Moscow.

Asked about the Biden administration’s response, Sharpton said, “I certainly think they could have done more. I think there has not been a lot of vocal support. I understand the sensitivities in these negotiations, but I think at some point, after four months, you have to raise the public outrage on this.”

President Biden has now become involved in this matter. Griner wrote to him in recent days, saying she was “terrified I might be here forever.” This mess is being described as having “particular sensitivities” because it involves the failure to obtain the release of a black gay woman.

The Russians have offered to trade Griner for someone we have in custody. Moscow would like to obtain the release of Viktor Bout, an infamous Russian arms dealer nicknamed ‘The Merchant of Death.’ Bout was sentenced to 25 years on terrorism charges in a 2012 trial in New York. I would hope that Washington would find this trade unpalatable, both morally and politically.

It’s nice that the White House in April achieved the release of former marine Trever Reed from Russian custody. He was sentenced to nine years in prison in July 2020 for endangering the “life and health” of Russian police officers. They might as well have put Reed in jail because he looked guilty.

A former Marine is now free, but so is a drug dealer. In order to make the trade, President Biden had to commute the sentence of Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian smuggler convicted of conspiring to import cocaine. If Reed was not in Russia, the drug dealer would still be in jail. Now Yaroshenko can go back to smuggling cocaine.

I don’t think we should allow their people in our country. Over the years, China and Russia have stolen vast amounts of our technology. If it wasn’t for spying, Russia would not have developed the atomic bomb until the mid-1950s. China is a master of espionage. It will soon have a bigger economy than us, largely based on the fact that it robbed us blind on all fronts.

I don’t think America should be xenophobic in its relationship with the world. We should at least do better in picking what nations we decide to have as our friends. We poured billions into the Russian economy, and now because of the Ukraine war, we have lost nearly all of our investments. We should let history be our guide, but we will continue to suffer the imprisonment of our citizens and the loss of our money because of simple greed.

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless” – (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

– Todd

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