Depending on the United Nations

For all the flack that critics hurl at the United Nations, the crisis sparked by North Korea’s missile tests shows just how indispensable the United Nations can be during times of global emergency. As David E Sanger of the New York Times reports, there are few good policy options available to President Bush as he approaches North Korea’s nuclear saber-rattling. However, at the Security Council, Ambassador Bolton told reporters that Pyongyang was isolated, and that there is “broad and deep support” for a Japanese resolution to sanction North Korea over the tests. It’s clear that North Korea is under intense pressure right now. Indeed, whether it is intended or not, the Security Council affords the Permanent Five with the opportunity to play out a good cop/bad cop routine. And as Chief U.S. nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill visits Beijing to coordinate a strategy to revive the six party talks, this routine can no doubt add to the Council’s leverage over North Korea.

With US foreign policy in a bind over the missile tests, the United Nations Security Council is an attractive venue to provide a way for American policy makers to mitigate this crisis.