It used to be North Korea that was facing maximum pressure, not exerting it. Pyongyang conducted its second ballistic missile test in a week Thursday, escalating tensions with Washington that have been growing since the collapse of a second round of talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam.
While attempting to assign cause for North Korea's actions is often a losing game, it is surely no coincidence that the tests comes off the back of Kim's successful first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump, meanwhile, is facing difficulties on a range of foreign fronts.
It used to be that whenever Trump confronted trouble at home -- be it the Russia probe, various scandals or pressure from Congress -- that he could pivot to his foreign policy successes. He forced China into a corner on trade with aggressive tariffs few critics expected to work, won support from even Democrats for regime change efforts in Venezuela, and, most of all, after decades of tensions he became the first US President to sit down with a North Korean leader to plot a course towards denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula.