July 10, 2006 -- The Bush administration may have called last week's North Korean missile launch "provocative," but six days later all those launches have provoked are administration calls for patience and diplomacy.
"We've had very extensive and intensive diplomacy over this weekend," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, expressing optimism today in a Chinese mission to North Korea.
"I'm a patient person," said U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, while explaining today why he didn't have a problem with the U.N. Security Council delaying a vote to sanction North Korea.
"These problems didn't arise overnight, and they don't get solved overnight," President Bush said Friday.
In both North Korea and Iran -- two of the three countries the president once labeled the Axis of Evil -- the Bush administration is calling for talks and patience instead of its post 9/11 doctrine of pre-emption with respect to nations considered hostile.
During his 2002 State of the Union address Bush said, "Time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather."
He was promising to aggressively and urgently prevent hostile countries from gaining weapons of mass destruction, and further emphasized his point during a June 2002 speech at West Point.
"We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge," Bush said.
Conservatives are responding critically to Bush's diplomatic response to North Korea, which tested seven missiles over the July 4 holiday.
They want more aggressive and creative pressure on both the Asian nation and Iran to cease their nuclear programs.
"The Bush doctrine seems to have gone by the wayside and diplomacy for the sake of diplomacy, talks for the sake of talks, appear to be a hallmark of the new Bush administration," said Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute.
After the president announced the doctrine of pre-emption, "Everyone looked at him as a newly born serious foreign policy president and I think that president born in the days after 9/11 is largely gone," she said.
In the Weekly Standard, editor William Kristol called the Bush policy on North Korea "Clintonian."
"What was 'unacceptable' to President Bush a week ago [a North Korean missile launch] has been accepted," he wrote.
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum, who helped coin the term "Axis of Evil," said that with North Korea, diplomatic measures such as economic sanctions won't work.
"North Korea has already sanctioned itself, made itself the world's most isolated economy. It's hard to imagine what more economic harm you can do to North Korea beyond what it's inflicted on itself," said Frum.
Oher critics say this proves the Bush doctrine failed.
"The Bush doctrine met the real world and it collapsed. There's no way that you can go around waging preventive war against all of your enemies," said Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
Today the White House responded by insisting the Bush doctrine has not changed.
"I think there's a misconception that pre-emption means war. It doesn't," said White House spokesman Tony Snow. "Pre-emption means stopping somebody before they can do you harm. There are diplomatic ways to do that."
But references to pre-emptive options throughout the U.S. National Security Strategy, (LINK) essentially the blueprint of the Bush doctrine, use the term almost entirely to refer to military measures.
For example, it states that, "While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country."
While the Bush administration is pursuing diplomacy, Japan has started to talk about pre-emptive attacks, and its right to attack the missile sites in North Korea.
Avery Miller and Karen Travers contributed to this report