North Korea’s evident test of a nuclear device speaks to a failure of diplomacy long in the making, but Democrats have justifiably laid much of the blame on Bush, whose Iraq fixation and disinterest in nonproliferation have proved disastrous.
New York Times:
As Democrats were quick to note on Monday, four weeks before a critical national election, President Bush and his aides never gave as much priority to countering a new era of proliferation as they did to overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
Mr. Bush and his aides contend that Iraq was the more urgent threat, in a volatile neighborhood. But the North’s reported nuclear test now raises the question of whether it is too late for the president to make good on his promise that he would never let the world’s “worst dictators” obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons.
But foreign policy, as Mr. Nunn says, is “all about priorities,” and until Monday the closest Mr. Bush came to drawing a red line for the North was in May 2003, when he declared that the United States and South Korea “will not tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea.”
The Central Intelligence Agency’s estimates in the years since have been that the United States has been tolerating exactly that—a small arsenal of nuclear fuel sufficient to produce six or more weapons.