North Korea’s “crazy-as-a-fox leader,” Kim Jong-Il, has outsmarted us again, said Peter Brookes in the New York Post. “After years of haggling, North Korea is refusing to allow routine disarmament inspections of its nuclear (weapons) program, leaving the Six-Party Talks, established to denuclearize Pyongyang, in limbo.” This will cut off the gravy train of foreign aid, but it will let North Korea hang onto a bargaining chip that has proven useful for years.

OK, so bribery didn’t work, said Michael Gerson in The Washington Post. The Bush administration, “facing an infantile and possibly ill dictator with a nuclear weapon,“ tried trading aid to get Pyongyang to part with its plutonium, which was worth a try. But the State Department squandered its moral authority—and “one of America’s greatest soft-power advantages”—by sugarcoating the issue of North Korea’s human rights abuses to appease Kim.

It would help if the five parties involved in the talks with North Korea would get on the same page, said the Korea Herald (via Yonhap News Agency) in an editorial. The U.S. said the groups were halting energy aid over the diplomatic breakdown, but Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea had different ideas. It’s South Korea’s job to clear up the confusion, so it doesn’t become “another hurdle in the already complex route to North Korean denuclearization.”

After four years of six-party talks, said Claudia Rosett in Forbes, Pyongyang has yet to surrender an ounce of bomb fuel, yet it has raked in vast stores of free food an free fuel. Time to try a different approach. “Regime change has an advantage over talks that it would be foolish to ignore—namely, it works.”