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When House Democrats stalled George W. Bush's free-trade deal with Colombia, the move added to the list of moribund diplomatic initiatives that the Administration had hoped would revive his presidency in its fading months. Talks on Israeli-Palestinian peace, North Korean nuclear weapons and missile-defense cooperation with Russia are all in trouble, threatening any chance for a White House signing ceremony that could soften a foreign policy legacy dominated by the war in Iraq.

Things weren't always so bleak. Last November, Bush brought Palestinians and Israelis together in pursuit of a paper-only deal with minimal on-the-ground concessions in the hope of creating...