Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Trump-Kim meeting offers hope for reducing nuclear threat

The historic summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea is the possible beginning of a significant breakthrough toward a safer world rather than a declarative end of a serious nuclear threat. But the cordial meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un beats the dangerous taunts of threats of nuclear annihilation that they previously exchanged. Now months of hard work are ahead in working out the details of a real agreement.

Trump and Kim met Tuesday in Singapore and signed a joint statement vowing to establish "new relations" that "build a lasting and stable peace" on the Korean peninsula. The North "reaffirmed" an earlier pledge to work toward "complete de-nuclearization" of the region. The statement also directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and high-ranking North Korean officials to hold follow-up talks to work on the specifics.

The statement is short on details and lacks a timetable for reining in the North’s nuclear program. Trump said economic sanctions against the North would remain in place until the regime shows more progress in dismantling its arsenal. But he announced he would halt joint military exercises with South Korea, which the North considers provocative. Officials in South Korea appeared surprised by that announcement, though South Korea aggressively promoted the summit as a step toward peace and national unity.

The road to any real success beyond photo ops will be difficult. The North for decades has lied about the reach of its nuclear program and broken its international commitments. It also views de-nuclearization of the peninsula differently than the United States, linking any dismantling of its weapons systems to cuts in the American security that protects South Korea and Japan. The North also would have to accept international inspectors roaming its facilities. A generic statement from Trump and Kim was the best to hope for from a first meeting, and there is no comparison to the detailed Iran nuclear agreement that the president has ridiculed and canceled. Presumably, the enforcement provisions that this administration would expect in North Korea would be better than those for Iran that Trump panned.

China, the North’s biggest patron, called the summit a success that should clear the way to easing sanctions, but many world leaders were more cautious in their optimism, underscoring instead the value of sustained diplomacy. The United Nations sent the right message by calling on the global community to "seize this momentous opportunity" and by offering the full support of the U.N. system in the monitoring and verifications process.

Trump and Kim broke the ice on a bold diplomatic gamble, and now the real work begins. The administration needs to be clear-eyed about North Korea’s intentions, and the details will ultimately decide whether there can be a viable agreement that erases the North’s nuclear threat as Trump promises. But at least a dialogue has opened, and the atmosphere seems more productive than at any time in recent history. That is no small achievement for two leaders who could have easily retreated to their corners or renewed their dangerous posturing, and it provides some hope that a break in the impasse is possible.

Comments
Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

It is real news that the Hillsborough County School District said this week it will accelerate testing for lead in drinking water and release the results after the Tampa Bay Times reported testing would take years and that until we asked families wer...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

A good reputation can vanish overnight, which is why Habitat for Humanity of Hills-borough County made a smart decision by announcing it would seek to buy back 12 mortgages it sold to a Tampa company with a history of flipping properties. The arrange...
Published: 08/14/18
Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe made a reasonable decision to charge Michael Drejka with manslaughter in last month’s deadly Clearwater convenience store parking lot confrontation. The shooting, which erupted over use of a handicap parkin...
Published: 08/13/18
Editorial: Politics aside, arguments are clear for moving appellate court to Tampa

Editorial: Politics aside, arguments are clear for moving appellate court to Tampa

It’s time to re-establish a permanent home for the state appeals court that serves the Tampa Bay region.It makes sense to put it in Tampa, the same as it made sense 30 years ago when the court’s operations began moving piece by piece up Interstate 4 ...
Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: A big first step toward improving transportation in Hillsborough

Editorial: A big first step toward improving transportation in Hillsborough

The Hillsborough County transit referendum that has made the November ballot is significantly stronger than two efforts that failed to reach the end zone in the past decade. The one-cent sales surtax would generate enough money to meaningfully improv...
Published: 08/09/18
Editorial: Bondi should stop fighting smokable medicial marijuana

Editorial: Bondi should stop fighting smokable medicial marijuana

The fight for medical marijuana in Florida should have ended with the resounding 2016 vote authorizing it in the state Constitution. Instead, the battle for access drags on, with Attorney General Pam Bondi waging the latest round in a lengthy legal b...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: Warning signs of a mental health crisis in Florida

Editorial: Warning signs of a mental health crisis in Florida

They reach from South Florida to Tampa, from a high school to a college campus, from troubled kids to troubled parents. But there is a common thread connecting these tragedies: Florida has a mental health crisis. Addressing it would require spending ...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: Time to pursue or sink ferry to MacDill

Editorial: Time to pursue or sink ferry to MacDill

A proposal to use local money to ferry workers to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa always has been a questionable idea. The loss of nearly $5 million in federal money toward the project makes it all the more suspect. It’s time the ferry supporters off...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Blood on the streets of Chicago

Blood on the streets of Chicago

A hot summer weekend, when Chicago should be at its most livable, brings an undercurrent of dread and horror to this city. Summer is block party season, beach season, baseball season. But in some neighborhoods, summer is killing season — when armed g...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: FDA should not penalize premium cigars

Editorial: FDA should not penalize premium cigars

A well-meaning but poorly designed effort to keep tobacco from children could sink a niche industry and end Tampa’s fabled history as a cigar-making capital. The Food and Drug Administration needs to recognize not all tobacco products are alike...
Published: 08/06/18
Updated: 08/13/18