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Saturday, Jan 11, 2003

north of the border

"At the outset the Bush policy was dominated by people whose expertise is not Asia but weapons proliferation. Now the lead role has reverted to Colin Powell and the diplomats. They have renounced "tailored containment" and forsworn military options so vociferously that Mr. Bush now sounds like Jimmy Carter. True, his motives for this show of restraint may be questionable he doesn't want to distract attention from Job One in Iraq but it's a welcome change from the gunslinger talk. We've also started paying more attention to North Korea's neighbors, whose cooperation is essential. Japan, Russia, China and especially South Korea, whose new president floated to power on a wave of anti-American sentiment, all believe Mr. Kim can be induced to sober up and maybe even join the world. Most important, we've agreed to "talk" to the North. (But not "negotiate." It's basically the difference between foreplay and sex.) Whether the Bush folks have come entirely to their senses is hard to tell, but Mr. Galucci describes them as "lurching in the right direction."