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White House in turmoil as Korea threat increases

Opinion Piece

A focus on the New Zealand political scene, Labour’s poll slide and Super Rugby semi-finals may have taken attention away from some worrying developments in the week just passed.

Perhaps the most pressing issue is yet another North Korean missile launch, with this one said to be capable of reaching the United States mainland.

It prompted the US to hold an anti-missile test and fly over Korean airspace supported by Japanese and South Korean fighters. That will not do anything to relieve a tense situation.

In fact, one of the most worrying aspects for many is how the unpredictable US President Donald Trump will handle what is becoming his equivalent of the 1960s Cuban missile crisis.

There is turmoil in the Trump presidency with the chief of staff summarily dismissed hot on the heels of the communications director, then the new comms director sacked 10 days into the role. Some wits are saying the only safe staff members are his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, but it is not funny for the remaining aides and senior staff, let alone the rest of us.

In the meantime Trump keeps firing off strange tweets such as his summary decision to ban transgender people from the military, which was apparently news to heads of the forces.

The embattled president was probably angry after his latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed, with Vietnam war hero John McCain rising from his sick bed to join two other Republicans in the US Senate to vote no — an embarrassing defeat on a key election plank.

The whole US political situation has become akin to a soap opera, with viewers wondering what Trump will do next . . . it’s just a pity the stakes are so high, especially in international relations where he does not face the checks and balances that are frustrating his domestic agenda.

Many Kiwis will start the week, however, more concerned that the Hurricanes burned out against the Lions in Super Rugby and the Crusaders must now trek all the way to Johannesburg for the final, the worst-case scenario for the Cantabrians. For them Kim Jong Un and the election can wait.