North Korea is a terror state! Run and hide! Evil, bad, bad country, shame on you!
Oh, wait, it's not, and we're taking their word for it: Aren't assurances by thug dictators supposed to be untrustworthy on general principle?
With much fanfare and choreography, but little substance, the administration has accepted a North Korean "declaration" about its nuclear program that is narrowly limited, incomplete and almost certainly dishonest in material respects. In exchange, President Bush personally declared that North Korea is no longer a state sponsor of terrorism or an enemy of the United States. In a final flourish, North Korea has undertaken a reverse Potemkin Village act, destroying the antiquated cooling tower of the antiquated Yongbyon reactor. In the waning days of American presidencies, this theater is the stuff of legacy.
The writer is John Bolton, not exactly a harsh critic of the president's, and he concludes that the only good news is that "there is little opportunity for the Bush administration to make any further concessions in its waning days in office. Nothing can erase the ineffable sadness of an American presidency, like this one, in total intellectual collapse." I've never cared for Bush's domestic agenda, but I've always given him points for taking national security seriously. It's hard to explain this and impossible to justify.