If I were in a bar or some other such place and someone repeated the substance of this editorial in an effort to argue that we need to directly negotiate a settlement with North Korea, I would think the proponent of this argument quite naive.
What's stunning is that this argument is delivered by a former President, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and someone who the cognoscenti consider to be a foreign policy guru.
USATODAY.com - U.S.-North Korea war seems 'strong possibility': "There must be verifiable assurances that prevent North Korea from becoming a threatening nuclear power, with a firm commitment that the U.S. will not attack a peaceful North Korea."
Carter does not posit how we get to this pleasurable result. Notice he says North Korea needs to be prevented from becoming a "threatening nuclear power." I assume he is ok with North Korea existing as a garden variety peaceful nuclear power. That explains much of his mindset. Despite the evidence, that even he acknowledges, that North Korea violated the 1994 Agreed Framework by producing nuclear weapons, Jimmy Carter has a dream of a day when North Korea can be armed with nuclear weapons, yet peaceful in disposition. It is this brand of wishful thinking that got us into the mess in the first place.
Here, Carter shows that he can read Kim Jong Il's mind:
"The situation is rapidly deteriorating again. North Korea feels increasingly threatened by being branded an "axis of evil" member; deployment of anti-ballistic missiles in Alaska; Washington voices expressing military threats; interception of North Korean ships; ad hominem attacks on President Kim Jong Il; condemnation of previous efforts by President Clinton and South Korean leaders to resolve issues peacefully; and U.S. refusal to negotiate directly with North Korea. America's newly declared policies of pre-emptive war and first use of nuclear weapons also concern North Koreans."
While reading this paragraph I kept thinking to myself, "Didn't North Korea violate their agreements before all of this by furtively developing nuclear weapons?"
Then I got to the next sentence:
"Even before these more recent threats, the North Koreans began a secret and illicit nuclear program."
So, essentially, Jimmy Carter believes another agreement wherein the US agrees to back down and never criticize the North Korean gulag will convince Jong Il to either stop developing nuclear weapons or maintain a peaceful disposition while arming to the teeth. And unlike the last time, Jong Il will abide by this agreement.
Outside of LaLa Land, the term for this is called, GULLIBLE. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly clear that the only solution to this mess is through military means. I suppose it is possible that we can starve North Korea to such a point that famished soldiers decide to take the country for themselves and join the civilized world. Even if we have the will to starve the country, which I doubt we have, this outcome is not assured. Military victory is assured.