While the oval office will always try to impose its timetable on domestic and world politics, the world’s superpower must always be ready to face challenges on the world stay that demand urgent attention from Washington. In the last 24 hours #President Donald Trump was given international hot potatoes to handle in two separate continents that will draw his attention away from the domestic issues he must also handle.

Syria and North Korea

In Syria the suspected gas attack on the rebel held town Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province that killed large numbers of civilians including children drew swift condemnation from the international community.

The town had been attacked by Syrian air force and it is suspected that they used gas in their attack.

The Russian government, which supports the Bashar al-Asssad regime in Syria, has replied by stating that the source of the gas was an ammunition store struck by government bombs. This matter is now the subject of an urgent debate in the United Nations where the Russian where the British and French governments want the attack considered a war crime and the appropriate action.

As reported by the BBC, overnight North Korea launched another ballistic missile test from the port of Sinpo which landed in the Sea of Japan. The timing of this test is very specific in the light of the visit to the United States this week by China’s President Xi Jinping where he will spend the weekend as a guest at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

North Korea was already on the meeting’s agenda as a result of previous tests and follows on from President Trump’s recent remarks that the United States may be willing to act on Pyongyang on its own if China did not pay a more active role in controlling the behaviour of Dictator Kim Jong-Un.

State Department

Dealing with these two matters has been made more complicated by a still incomplete State Department senior staff structure.

According to the Huffington Post, many top posts of the government’s diplomatic branch are still unfilled or are being occupied by temporary acting officials.

In addition the Department headed by Secretary Rex Tillerson also faces massive cuts in the Oval Office’s proposed budget. These two factors combined seem to indicate an Oval Office that does not consider diplomacy a priority.

America first

While Donald Trump promised during the presidential campaign that his aim was “America first”, international politics is unavoidable, as the two matters listed above show.

Syria directly involves #Russia which has backed and continues to back Al-Assad, even with military intervention against ISIS and the other rebels against the regime.

North Korea’s testing not only involves China, it also worries America’s Asian allies who are already uneasy easy about China’s intentions in the South China Sea which saw the presence recently of an American naval flotilla including the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.


Two such international incidents so close to each other will provide a true test for President Trump and Secretary Tillerson and will give the first real answers to whether or not the new President’s political agenda and business skills will be able to handle the challenges of international politics.

The judgments on these issues will not only be made by the American public but above all by the world’s leaders, friends and foes alike.

As the traditional three month presidential honeymoon period draws to its end the true testing of the new President of the United States has truly begun.