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Security Politics

The Washington Post says North Korea's "nuclear test last night may well be regarded as a failure of the Bush administration's nuclear nonproliferation policy...  Yet a number of senior U.S. officials have said privately that they would welcome a... test, regarding it as a clarifying event that would forever end the debate within the Bush administration about whether to solve the problem through diplomacy or through tough actions designed to destabilize North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's grip on power." 

When Senate Armed Services chair John Warner (R) suggested late last week that the Administration give the Iraqi government 90 days to end the sectarian violence there, it was interpreted as one of the White House's chief stalwarts on Iraq straying off the reservation.  But while that may well be true, the White House might not be so averse to everything it's hearing.

Armed Services ranking member Carl Levin (D) told reporters last Friday that Administration officials -- including Bush himself -- have encouraged him to publicly make a similar-sounding case -- that the Iraqis have "a couple of months to resolve their difficulties and to reduce the violence."  More Levin: "I believe within the next few months that the Administration is going to finally reach this point... and I think that [Zalmay] Khalizad, our ambassador, already has."  Potential presidential candidate and Sen. Joe Biden (D) told reporters that the Administration may eventually rely on the bipartisan Iraq Study Group as a means for changing course in Iraq while not appearing to cave into Democratic pressure.

Seemingly on cue, Iraq Study Group co-chair James Baker said yesterday that "Iraq has about 'two or three months' to improve its security situation...  Although the Iraq Study Group is holding its findings until after the November elections, Mr. Baker has said he does not think an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq should be under consideration."