Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Moving forward on North Korea’s nuclear threat

North Korea’s latest nuclear test certainly raises the danger threshold; whether it could also provide cover for managing this escalating crisis remains to be seen.

The ballistic missile tested by North Korea on Nov. 28 flew higher than ever, and the government said its estimated range of more than 8,000 miles put the entire mainland United States in the crosshairs. That trajectory is open to dispute; the North could have fired the intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwason-15, with a light or no actual payload. Still, it flew higher and longer than a Hwason version the North tested in July. Experts are rightly worried about the resumption of Pyongyang’s rapid testing pace and its apparent ability to boost its military reach.

With the launch, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared, the North had achieved its goal of becoming a "rocket power." That, too, is not clear; the North still has not shown it has a warhead capable of surviving the intensity of re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. Still, with an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a commitment to continue testing — even in the face of harsh economic sanctions — the North remains a serious and unpredictable destabilizing force on the international stage.

Pyongyang’s declaration, though, that it had achieved something of national ambition might create an environment to wind down the threat. There is no serious sign that President Donald Trump is prepared to accommodate a nuclear North; he escalated the rhetoric again after the test, denigrating Kim as "Little Rocket Man" and "a sick puppy." The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, continued the war of words. But the test might create some space for Kim to take a breath and for China, which has some leverage over the North, to explore grounds for trading off a testing moratorium in exchange for a loosening of sanctions.

Such an agreement seems farfetched in the current climate, but it could lead to the creation, at least, of confidence-building steps to manage the crisis. Like it or not, Kim has been consistent about the North’s ambitions to be treated as a nuclear power. The days of bombast from the West are over. The task now is to limit the North’s nuclear capabilities, and in the shorter-term, to create a mechanism for keeping North Korea and the United States from slipping accidentally into war.

Both sides have unrealistic expectations, and the threats and name-calling from both leaders have contributed to a dangerous level of suspicion and paranoia. It’s time for the administration to ratchet down the rhetoric and to send signals through China that a diplomatic solution is the only pragmatic one. That would allow the United States to retake the high moral ground and — more practically — to send a signal to the North about America’s intentions.

Comments
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trump’s risky move

President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampa’s MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampa’s MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough County’s Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17