THE SPINE OCTOBER 31, 2007
The Israeli attack on the Syrian nuclear laboratory in a desolate part of Bashar Assad's kingdom is an embarrassment to one of the Bush administration's few diplomatic achievements. The first hint that this was so came with the protest by North Korea against the government of Israel and its deft and daring raid deep into Syria. Why, for God's sake, would Pyongyang care at all about what occurs between an Arab state and the Jewish state half a world away from the Korean peninsula? Brash the protest might have been, stupid, even. But it was a revelation, even a confession, to everyone that Kim Jong Il was involved in atomic pranks, atomic pranks in an area of the world where the U.S. has -- how does one say this? -- both friends and interests. Of course, the long-ruling dictator had just agreed to a compact with the Americans (and the Chinese, Japanese, Russians, South Koreans) to abjure such activity.John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., is a person whom Democrats like to pillory and disbelieve. His reappointment to the U.N. post failed in the Senate precisely because he was an effective emissary and farsighted emissary. For example, he foresaw before the end of the Lebanon war what I Spined about earlier in the day: the rearmament by the Syrians of Hezbollah after last summer's cease-fire. And lo and behold: Damascus has been providing Nasrallah with Iranian long-range missiles.Bolton understands that diplomacy is not a dinner party. Stealth and deception characterizes its essence. You don't believe someone just because he says it. That goes for everyone -- and certainly for the North Koreans. It should also go for us. Well, we Americans are more than a bit credulous. And Bolton believes we have been credulous about North Korea and its atomic aspirations. He has reason and evidence to back his doubts. They are assembled in an article in this morning's Wall Street Journal. His new book, Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad, is out next week.