Is the N. Korean diplo­matic win­dow clos­ing?

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

This ed­i­to­rial ap­peared in The Mer­cury News (San Jose): It’s as if North Korean Pres­i­dent Kim Jong Un is do­ing one of those Ver­i­zon com­mer­cials re­peat­edly ask­ing the rest of the world: “Can you hear me now?”

If there was any doubt be­fore, the an­swer now that North Korea has suc­cess­fully test fired a mis­sile ca­pa­ble of reach­ing the in­te­rior of the United States is, “Oh yes, we hear you now. And we don’t like what we are hear­ing.”

All that is left for the rogue na­tion to do is demon­strate it can minia­tur­ize and at­tach a nu­clear war­head to one of those mis­siles and the world will be in fullscale cri­sis. It is fool­hardy to be­lieve the North Kore­ans won’t do it shortly, if they haven’t al­ready.

Time is run­ning out for diplo­macy. But the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is blath­er­ing about China and oth­ers need­ing to step up with pres­sure. The United States has the most to lose, with mis­siles within shot of Sil­i­con Val­ley and maybe even Wash­ing­ton D.C.

Of course, North Korea’s close neigh­bours Japan and South Korea, strong U.S. al­lies, al­ready see this is as full-scale cri­sis. They’re right.

To un­der­score the point, the U.S. and South Korea car­ried out live-fire mis­sile ex­er­cises in wa­ters off the coast of South Korea, and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe promised to work with the U.S. to strengthen pres­sure on Py­ongyang.

But China is the one coun­try with enough in­flu­ence in North Korea to help al­ter Py­ongyang’s course, and it seems only to ap­ply lip ser­vice. As if to make the point, a spokesman for China’s For­eign Min­istry said China op­posed any fur­ther North Korean mis­sile launches and urged all sides to “act cau­tiously.” Whew. Glad we got that said.

Com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters — both Kim and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump have hair-trig­ger tem­pers, and nei­ther is known for pru­dent re­straint, let alone sub­tle diplo­macy.

U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tions have been kick­ing this can down the road for decades. But the buck is stop­ping here. With Trump un­likely to rea­son this through, Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son may be our only hope.

This is a test. We need our own mis­sile: A diplo­matic one.

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