The North Korean deal has a very Clintonian character to it; I wish I were the first person to note that, but Ice Weasel beat me to it. Nonetheless, the fact that Bush is engaging in serious diplomacy, consisting of negotiating a food for nukes program, suggests that he’s not so reckless as he seems when one looks only at Iraq.
Iraq is a spectacular occupation that the global media can’t get enough of. If he changes anything in it, even by commissioning an Iraq Study Group report that he has no intention of following the recommendations of, the media will notice and write about Bush’s admission of failure.
Bush is a politician. He wants to do good, subject to the constraint that what he thinks is good for the country and the world is slanted by what he thinks is good for himself and his wing of the Republican Party. He also wants to accumulate kudos, and that means getting the 30-35% of Americans who still approve of his performance to keep approving him. This means that while he can admit failure in private and change course in places where he can do so safely, he won’t do that in public.
In situations like this, it’s therefore a great boon for the relations with a country to be relatively out of the media spotlight. That way, politicians can learn from experience in dealing with it, leading to more Clintonian deals that emphasize pragmatism and fewer Bushite threats that emphasize grandstanding and self-righteousness.