Thursday, July 19, 2018
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: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

To his credit, Gov. Rick Scott says he is considering requests to order an independent investigation of how Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s office screens applications for concealed weapon permits. It’s a reasonable request, and the governor h...
Published: 07/18/18
Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

July in Florida. The height of summer tourist season. Rental cars clog the highways and tourists crowd the beaches, motels and all-you-can-eat shrimp joints. Many of our neighbors are off to North Carolina or somewhere cooler. So it’s an awfully inco...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Maggy Hurchalla joked this spring that all she could offer a billionaire who won a $4.4 million judgment against her after she exercised her free speech rights were "two kayaks and an aging Toyota.’’ The billionaire didn’t laugh. This week, Martin Co...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/18/18
Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

In one of the most surreal news conferences of our time, President Donald Trump actually stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday and called the federal investigation into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election "a disaster for our coun...
Published: 07/16/18
Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

The St. Petersburg City Council made the appropriate but difficult decision to reject a contract with renowned artist Janet Echelman for one of her aerial sculptures. It would be wonderful for the city to have one of her signature works, but Spa Beac...
Published: 07/13/18

‘Everybody needed to know what happened’

The brutal murder of Emmett Till, a black Chicago youth, in Mississippi nearly 63 years ago went unpunished, but not forgotten. A decision by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, to allow an open casket at Emmett’s Chicago funeral represented an act of def...
Published: 07/13/18
Editorial: Personal bias taints Florida’s clemency system

Editorial: Personal bias taints Florida’s clemency system

A recent exchange between the governor and Cabinet and a felon seeking to have his civil rights restored underscores the arbitrary unfairness of Florida’s clemency system. A long waiting period, a ridiculous backlog of cases and elected officials who...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/13/18

Trump should work with Congress on immigration

Donald Trump’s resounding victory in the 2016 presidential election came at least in part because the New York businessman grasped the disconnect between how millions of Americans and the political establishments of both parties felt about immigratio...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/13/18
Editorial: Trump’s trade war hurts American consumers

Editorial: Trump’s trade war hurts American consumers

Voters who looked to Donald Trump to make America great might want to look at their wallets. The president escalated his global trade war this week, threatening new tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports — everything from seafood, beef and ...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/12/18
Editorial: Rays stadium cost should be fairly shared

Editorial: Rays stadium cost should be fairly shared

The imaginative Ybor City ballpark proposed by the Tampa Bay Rays fits nicely into the 21st century vision of a sophisticated city and would secure major league baseball’s future for the entire region. It also carries an eye-catching cost that will h...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/12/18