None of that offered much hope for change. North Korea is already the world's most isolated country. The only thing that would meaningfully "deepen" that isolation would be for China to shut down trade entirely across its border — something Beijing has never given any indication that it's prepared to do. The idea that Kim Jong Il's regime even cares if its isolation "deepens" is dubious at best. As for the U.N., it met in emergency session just after the long-range missile launch in April, and gently tightened sanctions that were already having no demonstrable effect on North Korea's behavior on key security issues. Will another "emergency session" really produce painful sanctions that could conceivably make a difference? That, after all, is presumably what Tokyo has in mind when it talks about "not tolerating" the North's behavior.
For a hint as to how effective the U.N. might be, talk to the Russians. Moscow is "concerned" — not outraged — by today's test. Don't expect much, in other words, from the Security Council, even if the test is as direct a violation as possible of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718, which calls on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program. The Chinese, like Obama, desperately want the North Koreans to return to the negotiating table in Beijing, where the so-called six party talks were held during the Bush years. But Beijing may be coming to the reluctant conclusion, if they haven't already, that North Korea means what it says: it intends to be a state armed with nuclear weapons, whether the rest of the world likes it or not."
And that is unacceptable.
Obama, please step it up. You don't have to be a cowboy, but you do need to do more than talk.