The President of the United States is the head of international alliances that form one part of the world political stage. For decades this stage was called the Cold War in the battle between the world’s biggest superpower and the Soviet Union. Now this position is being challenged in three continents as the Oval Office is distracted by domestic issues.

Two capitals

News on Tuesday shows that the activities of the Capitol have taken the White House’s attention away from the world stage.

The reports of a failed missile test by North Korea was a reminder that the Asian dictatorship is a destabilizing force that does not want to be neglected or derided by other world leaders.

In fact, some news agencies such as Reuters speculate that the test was a result of President Donald Trump’s statement on Sunday that Kim Jong-un was “acting very, very badly”.

This incident followed the visit of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Beijing where the two superpowers were unable to find a solution to the North Korean problem that was suitable for all.

The second item involved Secretary Tillerson with news that he will be visiting Moscow next month rather than attending the NATO meeting at Brussels.

This development has fuelled worries of America’s European allies of a change of direction by Washington towards #Vladimir Putin’s Russia. This change was part of Donald Trump’s campaign promises and may have been heralded by his comments about the “deadbeats” who are not paying their share of NATO expenses.

In recent times a number of European countries have stated their worries about signs of increased Russian aggression and one country, Sweden, has even announced the return of national service to ensure that its armed forced are full prepared for any future eventuality. These worries were not eased by FBI Director James Comey’s confirmation Monday of investigations into Russian hacking of the presidential campaign.


This situation may be eased once the Administration has finished filling in all the nearly three thousand positions that are still vacant. In the meantime the international stage is not receiving the due attention that it would normally attract in a fully functional White House.

At the same time, the proposed cuts to the State Department may signal the White House's intention to concentrate on the country and to cut its foreign policy commitments.

This would be in line with the campaign slogan to “Putting America first” as part of “Making America great again”, but this is a facile argument at a time where the international stage faces a number of challenges in addition to Pyongyang and NATO.

The presence of American troops on the ground in the Middle East is the symbol of the country's struggle against terrorism and the world wide reaction to the proposals to cut America’s commitments to Paris environmental agreements show that any action by the United States has effects on other countries and not just within its borders.


As the proud holder of the title of Leader of the free world the United States is the country on which others base their own foreign policies.

The ties between the America and its allies are not simple pieces of paper but the result of intense diplomacy and in many cases the cost had also been in American lives in two world wars and other conflicts where the United States has committed troops.

The United States has shown that it is capable of dealing international politics and well as domestic issues. However, in recent the Oval Office is being increasingly distracted by domestic issues, including dissent within the President’s Republican Party in relation to policy issues.

The Oval Office must begin to understand that its ever increasing focus on internal affairs is affecting its standing around the world. This standing was the result of many decades of work and if it is lost it may well take even more time to regain. Is the country willing to pay this price?