Not many years ago, it would have seemed incredible to suggest that Russia and China were allies of the United States. But in regard to North Korea, it is in both countries' best interests to work with the United States, South Korea and Japan.
New tests of both nuclear weapons and missiles by the North Koreans have ratcheted up tension in Asia. Pyongyang's threat to attack U.S. and South Korean ships has added to the feeling of crisis.
How North Korea's seemingly irrational leaders will proceed is uncertain. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that they will stage an attack against South Korean or U.S. vessels - or even mount an armed provocation along the border between South and North Korea.
Of course, the United States would have to respond militarily, should such an attack occur.
Absent direct military contact, however, this is a time when the United States should not - in the interest of effectiveness - attempt to be the world's policeman.
China and Russia, because of their power and ties to Pyongyang, must be relied upon to convince North Korean leaders to stop escalating tension in that region of the world. Because China is North Korea's neighbor, it has special influence - and concern - in what is developing into a crisis.
U.S. diplomatic initiatives need to be aimed at persuading Russia and China to take more active roles in controlling North Korea. At this point, the realistic view of the situation is that only Beijing and Moscow can bring effective pressure to bear.