Paul Greenberg

"Our intelligence had missed the preparations for this devastating attack (of September 11, 2001), and there was no telling what else they were missing." -John Bolton, former American ambassador to the United Nations in his memoir, "Surrender is Not an Option"

Just about the best thing I've heard about Mike Huckabee's largely empty grasp of foreign affairs is that he's been conferring with John Bolton, the country's decidedly former ambassador to the United Nations.

The candid Mr. Bolton had to go because he was entirely too candid. For example, he spoke frankly about the world's most dangerous dictators, prominent among them North Korea's thoroughly untrustworthy Kim Jong-Il.

This one-man threat to the world's nuclear peace has been regularly given One Last Chance to stop developing his nuclear weapons program since, oh, about 1993, and naturally he keeps right on developing them. Estimates of the number of nukes the North Koreans now have may vary, but it's clear they've fired at least one in an inept but still alarming test blast.

North Korea's petty but dangerous tyrant has gladly accepted all the aid he was promised in return for forgoing atomic weapons. But somehow he's never gotten around to forgoing them. Just as John Bolton foresaw.

As the old year ended, the familiar pattern was being repeated. In the most predictable story of 2007, North Korea once again reneged on its pledge not to go nuclear. This time even the State Department had to halfway admit it has been snookered again, along with the other five countries that have been negotiating Pyongyang's long-promised, never-delivered nuclear disarmament.

To quote the State Department's entirely too diplomatic statement on this familiar occasion: "It is unfortunate that North Korea has not yet met its commitments by providing a complete and correct declaration of its nuclear programs and slowing down the process of (nuclear) disablement."

Unfortunate? It's downright dangerous, though perhaps not as dangerous as the permanent bureaucracy at the Department of State, which keeps finding excuses to accept North Korea's worthless promises - and keeps issuing tactful statements like this one when the latest deadline is ignored.

But why should Comrade Kim keep his promises? All those threats to cut off aid to Pyongyang have proved, time and again, to be largely meaningless.

Is this the best those verbal stylists at the State Department can come up with on this unhappy occasion - calling renewed evidence of a clear and increasingly present threat to world peace "unfortunate"?

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.