Next month brings Donald Trump’s longest overseas trip to date as president. This brings many anxieties for many people, as no White House event these days is routine.
The first-year president is due in Hawaii before going to Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, China and Vietnam between Nov. 3 and 14.
A daily dose of verbal bile bubbling out of North Korea, of course, commands the most attention.
Dictator Kim Jong Un on Thursday threatened the U.S. with an “unimaginable strike at an unimaginable time.” U.S. military forces are conducting joint naval exercises with South Korea.
“The rabid man in the White House,” the rogue regime’s spokesmen sneered, “will first face the immense volley of nuclear fire if he hopes to settle [this] confrontation with nukes.”
Amid this posturing, internal debate was reported over whether Trump will visit the demilitarized zone between the Koreas as past presidents have. Vice President Mike Pence has already been to the zone.
Also, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Thursday that North Korea must not be “backed into a corner.”
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, meanwhile, suggested the U.S. wasn’t really prepared for the trip as a whole.
“There’s really not the support in the State Department. I’ve just been looking at the fact that most of the people in the bureaus that deal with those countries have not been named. We don’t have ambassadors in a lot of the places,” she told CNN.
Steadiness in any direction doesn’t seem to be the order of the day.
Trade is known to be high on the travel agenda, just behind existential threats. Trump likes to decry trade imbalances with Japan and South Korea. He pulled out of the 12-nation Pacific trade pact — to still unknown effect — and wants a 2011 Obama administration agreement with Seoul renegotiated.
Earlier this week, it was announced that the U.S. would not brand China a so-called currency manipulator, which would heighten tensions.
But the Treasury Department cited a “lack of progress” in reducing the trade surplus, which in August stood at $34.9 billion — a two-year high, according to Reuters news service.
North Korea also will be a key item when the president meets in Beijing with Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a second time since they were face to face in April.
Unsurprisingly, nobody in authority is predicting what clarity or change, if any, this Asian journey could bring.