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Well, if the world’s diplomats can’t possibly know what the North is thinking, then perhaps it’s time to help them understand that actions have consequences.

Diplomacy only works with unstable regimes when there’s a stick behind the carrot. Don’t misunderstand; talks and compromise are the ultimate prescription for what ails the North. Yet it’s increasingly clear that military retaliation through a multinational force could help frame this debate in ways no diplomatic ping-pong has been able to achieve heretofore.

China, North Korea’s greatest ally, even seems unwilling to help. When asked earlier this month for its views on what to do next, Beijing indicated that “calm and restraint are now needed to cool down the situation.”

I’m sorry, but who was “hot” in this instance? Wasn’t it only the North?

Conflict may well bring the Chinese to the table, since they virtually ignore the region now. In truth, China has no vested interest other than to prevent North Korean refugees from flooding its borders should the government collapse.

This is not a choice between diplomatic relations and escalated conflict. We need both. One will beget the other.

Time and again, North Korea says one thing while secretly doing what it said it wasn’t. How is that diplomacy in good faith? The world can’t keep living in fear of a half-cocked nuclear nation that only grows more potent — and unstable — by the month.

• Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook www.facebook.com/arightside, and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@arightside.