Well, China and Russia don't seem to be listening to me. The UN Security Council met yesterday, but came to no agreement about what to do regarding North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. China and Russia both expressed skepticism about the need for increasing sanctions on North Korea and opposed a US-Japanese resolution to punish the DPRK. UN insiders are reporting that Russian and Chinese opposition is so strong that "the United States and Japan might have to accept a non-binding warning statement from the council instead of a legally binding resolution." Meanwhile, China has advanced weak resolution that prompted one US official to comment that "The Chinese have come up with a completely watered down text which is unacceptable to us. It's not even worth discussing."
If China, Russia, and the other members of the UN truly wish to see the US restrain itself, follow international law, and respect the UN, the Security Council, and other international institutions, those institutions must demonstrate the ability to deal with security issues such as North Korea, a relatively easy case given the coincidence of interests between the major players (no one, especially not China, wants to see a nuclear DPRK).
While I am not in any way surprised at the UN's complete inability to deal with issues of international security, I must admit I do not understand the strategic thinking of Russia and China here. President Obama has expressed his interest in more multilateral solutions as compared to President Bush, and sought to use the UN to deal with North Korea. Furthermore, neither Russia nor China has an interest in seeing North Korea proliferate. China in particular needs to worry about this, especially as North Korean proliferation may in turn drive Japan to develop a nuclear capability, or at the very least increase its ability for power projection.
Given that neither Russia nor China cares all that much about North Korea, given that they could have taken this opportunity as a chance to demonstrate that their preferred multilateral forum -- the UN Security Council -- is the proper place to deal with such issues and does have the capability to do so, given that the potential responses to North Korean proliferation are not in their interest, why would China and Russia be so unwilling to impose increased sanctions on North Korea for its flagrant violation of international law? I must admit I do not understand the strategic thinking here. The outcome of this intransigence is likely to demonstrate to Obama what President Bush knew: the multilateralism is not an end unto itself and that the UN cannot be relied upon to deal with issues that threaten American national security. Combine that with the regional destabilizing that will accompany North Korean proliferation and the potential for Japanese proliferation in turn, and it seems that China and Russia have made a colossal blunder here.