Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times, that "the best route to avoiding the spread of nuclear weapons is building international trust." What an epiphany! He also said that the international "system should not be based on, 'I am powerful militarily.' The system should be based on 'What contribution do I make to world civilization.'" For such banalities do we pay our multi-national civil service.

But even ElBaradei grasps that these barren sentiments have little effective influence in the real world.

Yes, he did welcome Barack Obama to the world stage and he felt "optimistic about an eventual U.S.-led settlement between Tehran and the West." But the director-general also felt that nuclear weapons are only "the tip of the iceberg."  "Now, I am talking more and more about poverty, HIV/AIDS..." and other matters. The interviewer did not mention whether ElBaradei alluded to the environment, too.  But he certainly wouldn't have missed that one.

His job is now to enhance his portfolio. His specific tasks have failed him and us. ElBaradei's interview with Daragahi admits that five years of U.S. and international efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions are a "failure." Tehran is moving closer and closer to producing nuclear weapons capable of mass destruction. "We haven't really moved one inch toward addressing the issues. I think so far the policy has been a failure."

This interview was published a day before the president-elect's appearance on "Meet the Press," during which he outlined his "carrot and stick" policy toward Iran.

And, then, on Monday, both the Associated Press and the Jerusalem Post reported on a statement from the Iranian foreign ministry explicitly rejecting Obama's approach "which was unacceptable and had failed in the past."

This was on the same day that Zbig Brzezinski said, according to Ha'aretz, that diplomacy would work and warned that Israel would suffer if there were to be an attack on Iran's nuclear arsenal. Which makes me think that such a take-out of Tehran's atomic capacity would actually be Zbig's heart's desire. Ah, a big wave of anti-Semitism, just like in the home country.