The Political Interest a Tough, Smart Deal

Is the U.S. rewarding North Korea's bad behavior? Yes. Does buying off Pyongyang's nuclear-weapons program set a bad precedent? Yes. So Bill Clinton sold out, right? Wrong. The deal is smart and tough, a triumph of patient and creative diplomacy.

North Korea is the 1990s equivalent of the Cuban missile crisis. By comparison, the other foreign problems plaguing the President are mere irritations.

Left unchecked, Pyongyang would surely expand its bomb-grade plutonium stocks and its arsenal of nukes, which may already include one or two atomic devices. That could spawn a regional arms race and, worse still, a proliferation nightmare. "The...

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