Congress to Pilot US Citizen Travel Bans, First Up: North Korea

This one doesn’t appear to have even needed a push from Trump. We still have the Trading With the Enemy Act on the books for Cuba, now Congress is trying its hand to legislate travel bans for US citizens to new countries.

Representatives Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) are to introduce legislation banning tourist travel to North Korea (DPRK). Other types of travel will require a license, criteria and process not yet specified. Since real news is now considered ‘fake news’ by too much of the population, here are direct the links to the press releases from Wilson and Shiff.

That’s the ‘You lie!’ boor Joe Wilson. I learned more of Adam Schiff on his recent Axe Files interview.

Rather than a positive agenda, build infrastructure and such, the current Congress focuses on ideological efforts to inflict harm. Restricting travel to North Korea is an infinitesimal concern compared to taking away health care from 23 million people, rolling back criminal justice reforms, or ending environmental protection, but is all of a piece of malicious efforts to harm others, targeting the powerless and easy targets.

North Korea is easy pickings to start. How many Americans will bother to oppose that? Next up perhaps is Iran after the embarrassing Trump sword dance in the fount of Islamic terrorism. And on and on. The wall we are building is our prison, not our sanctuary.

I have been to North Korea twice, in 2010 and 2013. I have no false illusions about the regime and wrote at length on my ‘go or no go’ decision then why I went back. As an American born into freedom, that was my decision to make. I will not let my freedom of movement be taken away.

Closing off the regime for decades has produced no good for the world. Recent opening up has produced glimmers of hope. Those little human interactions, however limited, show everyday North Koreans that we are not monsters. The grandpas playing cards in the park, the grannies playing dice under the pavilion, and the newlyweds at the temple see real flesh and blood Americans.

Any rational projection of the human devastation of military conflict make Trump’s bumbling bluster terrifying for anyone on the Korean peninsula. Prior administrations have found ways, even with the typical North Korean provocations at the start of administrations, to keep us out of military conflict. Now we are rushing headlong into conflict with bipartisan Congressional support. This is not America First.

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  • Christian

    I think that going to North Korea is a really bad idea, and to a slightly lesser degree Iran. Just because I don’t personally want to visit either while the current governments are in place does not mean that I, or congress (those damn idiots, Bless Their Hearts), have the right to dictate to an individual where they can or cannot visit outside the confines of our country. It’s not only ridiculous and paternalistic, but flies in the face of everything our nation supposedly stands for. Is “The Home of the Free” supposed to have an asterisk?

  • Flighteye

    To prevent NK use of human shields.

  • Matt Stegmeir

    Neither the land of the free, nor the home of the brave.

  • TCCQuest

    While I generally agree with you assessment of the underlying impacts and motivations there is a possible genuine motivation. DPRK has been known to arrest people/take hostages depending on your interpretation. A desire to prevent those and save the diplomatic spectacles would be a reasonable discussion point. That said restriction of movement (or where I spend money, a la Cuba) is wholly unfree and un-American.

  • Of the cases of arrests of US citizens in DPRK, the only one I am aware that did not involve violating the much publicized and warned rules was for a veteran of the Korean War. An unfortunate incident, to be sure. The others seem to involve ‘accidents,’ such as wandering across the border (as you might do on your daily walks in the remote forests of Jilin), leaving Bibles in hotels, and making political statements. Those seem to stem from Americans being Americans, smart, stupid and all the rest that we are free to be. One case does not seem to beg for Congressional action. Take the amount of Americans across the border in Chinese jails for various issues and that would seem to expand more US diplomatic resources. Its the Swedes who do the on the ground diplomatic legwork for most foreign nationals in DPRK, by the way, since few have a formal presence.

  • redrazor

    “taking away health care from 23 million people, rolling back criminal justice reforms, or ending environmental protection,” They are doing none of these things, and certainly not ending anything. I’m pretty sure no one has an issue with a ban from NK, although I personally have no problem with anyone who wants to go there, as long as they don’t ask for help if they get locked up.
    ESPN is losing subscribers because people want to see sports and not left wing politics. If you want to change to a political blog be my guest, but until then please stick to travel.

  • This is not travel? Muslim ban not travel? Laptop ban not travel? We cannot avoid the political, and the current administration is taking actions that directly impact travel. It is my duty as a citizen to be publicly engaged. As for the ‘let’s stick to travel hacking,’ there are plenty of blogs that do just that and I read many of them as you are welcome to do. My editorializing is not new, see here for where I more fully discuss the issue: http://rapidtravelchai.boardingarea.com/2016/08/26/republicans-buy-gift-cards/.

  • Siphon

    Anyone who goes to north korea is 99 out of 100 times a missionary looking to steal a soul for their imaginary god. Let them go but make no attempt to rescue them if fatty kim decides to use them as pawns. They can go visit their god sooner then and maybe fatty kim can eat them he must need 20kCal per day. A win win.

  • Dumammy

    Was just in DPRK and it’s interesting to read all of the comments. Very few of which are related to travel. Everyone travels for different reasons, mine was Country Counting, which comes with its own criticisms. Visiting there was completely different than what I anticipated. I certainly don’t support their politics or their leader and respectively told our handlers that. It was one of my more interesting visits to any country I’ve visited.
    I dont need some Congressman telling me where I can travel, what I need is balanced budgets, equal treatment of American citizens, maybe even some leadership. Not this fear monger in being fostered right now by shallow minded politicians.

  • redrazor

    There is no Muslim ban. There is a proposed temporary ban from 6 nations, who yes are mostly Muslim nations, but they have no effective government or vetting to see who is coming in. If it was a Muslim ban it would include all of the majority Muslim countries such as Indonesia but it doesn’t. The laptop ban is not just from the US but other countries too. I don’t like it, but I assume it is for a reason and not just to hassle people. It’s your blog and you are certainly free to discuss anything you want. I would think you would prefer to use facts instead of leftist propaganda like “Muslim ban” and “ending” programs which aren’t being ended.