It's getting more clear that the nation with the best chance to get North Korea to behave is China.
The question is, when will the Chinese get tired enough of the theatrics Pyongyang to act?
New sanctions against North Korea by the United Nations aren't likely to cool off the hot rhetoric that has been spewing from the the government there, including last week's threat to launch a suicidal first nuclear strike against the United States. And while the sanctions are expected to deeply impact North Korea's ability to move money around, the government there has shown that adverse impact on its people won't interfere in the wants and wishes of national leaders who want to seen by the rest of the world as more than playground bullies.
The new sanctions may, as the Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said, have more bite, but whether there's enough bite to prevent North Korea from firing off more missiles or engaging in more nuclear detonations is far from a sure thing.
The key is whether China is really on board with these sanctions. You would think it would be in the Chinese best interests to keep its neighbors under control, given the fact that China's proximity to North Korea places it in a dangerous spot if the North Koreans botch a missile launch.
But China also has a vested interest in keeping North Korea a communist state that is friendly to it. Should Pyongyang fall and South Korea expand into the north, China would find itself with no buffer between it and a government that is on friendly terms with the United States.
With China's ever-growing position in the global marketplace, however, leaders there have to know that the destabilization from North Korea's loose-cannon-on-the-deck mentality will, sooner or later, begin having an adverse effect on business.
Meanwhile, we're likely to hear more threats, such as the assertion of a pre-emptive nuclear strike. While Pyongyang no doubt would like to have the capability to pull off something like that, there's no indication that it now has the means to do it.
Perhaps the U.N. should send retired pro basketball player Dennis Rodman, who says he admires the despots that run North Korea, back with a basketball analogy, which Rodman, who apparently feels he has some sort of expertise in foreign affairs, says could be used to communicate between the United States and current North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
The gist of the communication would be just because Jong-un thinks he might possibly make a lay-up when there's no defender in the way, he should realize he'd be going up against a bigger, stronger player who can hit threes from anywhere on the court.
As for the sanctions, perhaps they will be enough to get everyone back to the negotiation table. Resolving the issue of North Korea's nuclear ambitions through diplomacy is preferable.
And to be sure, there is another interested party watching how this all plays out. And so far, nothing that has happened regarding North Korea has dissuaded Iran from its own nuclear program.
As long as either or both are pursuing nuclear arms, the world is a much more dangerous place.
-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board