When a president appears weak, distracted or in trouble, as President Donald Trump does right now, the effects on international affairs can play out on many fronts. First, adversaries may feel more emboldened to challenge a besieged American leader. That may be a miscalculation, but the odds of miscalculation go up at such times.
.. Second, there always is the suspicion that a president embattled at home is looking for a distraction abroad. Even if there’s a real crisis, there would be charges the White House is pumping it up to divert attention. “Wag the Dog” suspicions are never far beneath the surface... Third, when a president is thought to be distracted or in trouble, Congress steps in to fill what it perceives to be a void. That’s what happened during Watergate, when lawmakers voted to cut funding for the war in Vietnam and passed the War Powers Act to limit a president’s hand in military operations abroad... Mr. Trump is right when he says China hasn’t done what it could to curb North Korea: At this point, Beijing’s true intentions have to be considered suspect. The grim reality, though, is that China’s balkiness leaves few options, and no good ones, for dealing with the threat.