Helene Cooper Cracks on Bush's Naive North Korean Policy

Stop the presses! Jimmy Carter is criticizing Bush on North Korea.

Reporter Helene Cooper takes another opinionated shot at Bush foreign policy in the news pages with Friday's "Dissent Grows over Silent Treatment for 'Axis of Evil' Nations."

"Ever since President Bush first proclaimed there to be an 'axis of evil' in 2002, pundits, diplomats and politicians have urged him to talk to its members. But in the last few weeks, with Iraq experiencing a further surge in violence, North Korea testing a nuclear device and Iran continuing to defy a United Nations Security Council demand to stop enriching uranium, the cries for dialogue have grown louder.

"James A. Baker III, the Republican former secretary of state, said this month that he believed 'in talking to your enemies.' After North Korea's nuclear test, former President Jimmy Carter said that 'the stupidest thing that a government can do that has a real problem with someone is to refuse to talk to them.'

"Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, said last weekend that even at the peak of the cold war, "when there were nuclear missiles pointing at every major U.S. city, there was a direct line between the White House and the Kremlin."

The question arises: Is any of this cutting ice with the administration?"

Given the failure of Carter's own post-presidential diplomatic jaunt to North Korea in 1994 (where he called the then-dictator Kim I-Sung "vigorous and intelligent"), is it any surprise the answer would be no?

Cooper concludes with more cracks at Bush: "But the administration will continue to take hits over not talking to its enemies until it can demonstrably show that this strategy has had results, diplomats said. Said one European diplomat in Washington: 'They've isolated Cuba for 40 years, and you see how well that's worked.'"

While Cooper's previous reporting has been hostile to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the "neoconservatives" behind Bush's foreign policy, she's been pretty soft on international dictators, calling the hateful rantings of Iranian president "flowery, almost Socratic."