Win­dow is clos­ing

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

It’s as if North Korean Pres­i­dent Kim Jong Un is do­ing one of those Ver­i­zon com­mer­cials ask­ing the rest of the world: “Can you hear me now?”

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 full-scale 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 neigh­bors Ja­pan and South Korea, strong U.S. al­lies, al­ready see this is as full-scale crisis. They’re right. They know the world’s “ex­perts” have un­der­es­ti­mated North Korea and its ca­pa­bil­i­ties at nearly ev­ery turn and that this threat must be neu­tral­ized.

Af­ter the launch on Fri­day, Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said United Na­tions sanc­tions on North Korea must be tight­ened. He called out both China and Rus­sia for not do­ing enough. This leaves us stuck in a dan­ger­ous game of chicken in which the ta­ble stakes are nu­clear bombs. 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, Tiller­son may be our only hope.

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