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Bush scores well on India and China, less so for Iran, N. Korea

Other key foreign-policy moves include his decision to boost aid for fighting AIDS in Africa.

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Portentous shortfall: nukes

North Korea's development – and detonation – of a crude nuclear bomb in October 2006 may rank as the most portentous foreign-policy shortfall of the Bush administration and, arguably, the Western world. An inability to curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions would not be far behind.

Conservatives like John Bolton, a former Bush diplomat, say US timidity let Pyongyang and Tehran make dangerous progress. Even foreign-policy traditionalists say President Bush's post-9/11 "we-don't-talk-with-evildoers" approach gave the two regimes an incentive to develop their nuclear programs.

In Mr. Bush's second term in particular, he looked to other nations to take the lead on nuclear nonproliferation, encouraging China to assume greater international responsibility and host multiparty talks on North Korea's program. He also agreed that the Europeans should be chief negotiators with Iran. So far, these diplomatic strings have yielded a yo-yo of ups and downs and UN resolutions of uncertain effect, especially on Iran's actions.

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