100 days of President Trump

There’s a lot being said about the first 100 days of President Trump. Trump himself says what he has achieved is not important, except for the things he has achieved and the publicity he can get about marking the a00 day inchstone.

It’s early days for the most inexperienced president with the most inexperienced administration for a long time.

His base seems to be still happy and forgiving, but he has lost some support and he has the lowest approval levels for a president at this stage of his tenure.

AOL: ‘Get off of Twitter’: As Trump nears day 100, some stirrings of discontent

Some of his supporters fret that President Donald Trump is backing himself into a corner with promises that can’t be kept. Others lament he is not pulling America from international conflicts as he vowed – or say he should “get off of Twitter.”

What reporters found this time in more than two dozen interviews is that Trump voters are largely standing with their man but with signs of restlessness, mainly over foreign policy, concerns over getting legislation through Congress and some skepticism that he won’t be able to follow through with promises – from building a wall along the Mexican border to repealing Obama’s signature healthcare law.

But rather than bash Trump, many largely blamed Democrats and Republicans alike, a fractured Congress, the federal judiciary, and what they see as a hostile news media.

Taking Trump’s lead perhaps they blame everyone else.

They showed a willingness to trust the president almost implicitly, saw him as a tireless worker, and appreciated his efforts to secure the border and curb immigration.

I don’t know where they see him as a tireless worker.

An analysis of Reuters/Ipsos polling data shows slippage in Trump’s approval ratings, with lower enthusiasm among white men without a college degree, the core of his political base.

In comparing Trump’s approval rating in the first 20 days of his tenure to a 20-day period in April, Reuters also found a rise in disapproval among independents, college-educated adults, people with below-average incomes, white women and white Millennials.

The RCP job approval average: 43.1% approve, 51.9% disapprove.

In a statement touting Trump’s record in the first 100 days, the White House highlighted, among other things, his attempts to streamline government by proposing a lean budget, and his aggressiveness in foreign affairs, particularly with regard to challenging Russia and Iran.

Trump: “No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days”.

Politifact: Seven whoppers from Trump’s first 100 days

  1. “Terrorism and terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe have “gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported,” Feb. 6
  2. “I didn’t know Steve (Bannon),” April 11
  3. “109 people out of hundreds of thousands of travelers” were affected by the immigration executive order, Feb. 5
  4. Says “the New York Times wrote about” Barack Obama wiretapping Donald Trump during the election,  March 15
  5. “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.” March 20
  6. “The weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS 13 gangs to form in cities across U.S. We are removing them fast!”, April 18
  7. “The National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion,” Feb. 25

Supporters seem to believe him regardless, or don’t care when he states ‘alternative facts’.

The Weekend Australian: Donald Trump is growing into his power role

For US President Donald Trump, arriving at the first milestone of his young presidency, old habits have died hard.

Determined to bend the institution of the presidency to fit his own improvisational style, Mr Trump’s Oval Office routine isn’t materially different from how he operated for years on the 26th floor of Trump Tower: He continues to work the phones and watch hours of television every day. He has also refused to give up tweeting for himself from his own ­mobile phone.

But Mr Trump’s increasing focus on his first 100 days as an important measuring stick has compelled him to accept some of the intractable realities in Washington and the world. Officials close to the President say in recent weeks he has corrected course after acknowledging a slow transition from campaign mode.

At the same time, Mr Trump has spent the days leading up to his 100th day in office racing to fulfil campaign promises, signalling he may withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, trying to coax congress into a new healthcare deal, and rolling out the broad outlines of what would be a massive tax-cut undertaking.

On Monday, press secretary Sean Spicer called Mr Trump’s first 100 days a success because he has set a course for future action. “Think about what he started — he’ll move forward on tax reform, healthcare, on immigration, on trade. It’s been a hugely successful 100 days,” Mr Spicer said.

Mr Trump does have one unquestionable, lasting accomplishment: the nomination of new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, a 49-year-old conservative likely to maintain his place on the bench for several decades.

Fox News: Sen. David Perdue: Donald Trump, 100 days and the art of the turnaround

Turnarounds are messy. Turnarounds take time. Turnarounds often break some eggs in the early stages, but a successful turnaround starts with a serious change in direction.

President Trump immediately signified that change when he nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.

That was one of the few things Trump didn’t turn around on.

President Trump signaled his willingness to significantly restructure and cut down the size of the federal government. He directed all federal agencies to identify and root out waste. He’s taken action to review overreaching federal rules – like the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. and Clean Power Plan – that are holding back our economy.

Additionally, Congress has embarked on the boldest rollback of federal regulations since Ronald Reagan by passing thirteen pieces of legislation dismantling the current regulatory regime.

In a successful turnaround, you have to be willing to adapt to any unforeseen challenges. President Trump has done so when it comes to making major policy changes to our health care system and changing our archaic tax code to provide middle-class relief and boost our competitiveness with the rest of the world.

The challenges of dumping Obamacare shouldn’t have been unforeseen, but Trump has said that that, like the presidency, was much harder than he anticipated.

Largely as a result of these efforts, we’re seeing the early signs of a potential economic turnaround. Job one is to grow the economy and create jobs, and there are clear signs that we are moving in the right direction.

Equally important, America is re-engaging with our allies and others globally.

International engagement has been very uneven.

The reality is President Trump’s early success is a direct result of his refusal to conform to Washington as we know it.

From what I’ve witnessed personally, President Trump is a thoughtful leader. He brings diverse stakeholders to the table and drives consensus. He outlines a clear mission and moves at a business pace, not a bureaucratic pace.

That’s highly debatable.

Real Clear Politics: After 100 Days, These Things Will Stick

President Trump, who produced a contract for the voter last October that outlined all that he would accomplish in his first 100 days, now feels the marker isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, since governing isn’t either.

Yet it’s clear from the first three months that Trump has learned on the job, and enjoyed some achievements with a Supreme Court confirmation, decreased border crossings and hefty rollbacks of regulations. Despite the failure to pass a health care fix and court challenges to some of his executive orders, Trump has handled foreign policy better than most expected by relying upon several respected Cabinet secretaries who have earned the trust  of members of both parties.

Trump will continue to change as the learning curve dictates, but here are a dozen things Americans have learned about him since Election Day, or that have been reaffirmed since then, that will never change:

  1. The sell is supreme. No matter what issue, no matter what political context or consequence, Trump the Over-Promiser will push out superlatives for any event or  policy, at potential cost to the process. Everything will always be the best in history, the largest, and simplest, and it’s all coming quickly.
  2. Trump likes to work. The man likes to stay busy, and he doesn’t care for sleep. He  doesn’t read lengthy memos or briefing papers, and he takes plenty of time out for golf and cable news, but it’s clear that, at age 70, Trump is an active man who craves the stimulation of the job.
  3. Trump is a brazen hypocrite, as documented by his Twitter archive.
  4. Trade will be Trump’s reliable weapon of choice.
  5. Trump can’t let go of his obsession with the media.
  6. The wall is fantasy. It’s hard to find anyone beyond the president who will say out loud that yes, we need to build a wall.
  7. Trump rather likes the swamp after all.
  8. Trump backs down easily.
  9. Family wins.
  10. Trump loves Goldman Sachs.
  11. Donald Trump isn’t too concerned about our democracy.
  12. Steve Bannon is NOT Trump’s brain. Depending on the particular Republican or conservative arriving at this realization, it is either good news or bad.

And finally:

 

 

 

 

Trump withdraws threat to withdraw from NAFTA

Yesterday it was being reported that a White House official had indicated that Donald Trump was likely to sign an order beginning the process for the US to withdraw from the NAFTA trade agreement.

That appears to have been a bluff, or Trump has reconsidered.

Trump has more or less confirmed that, but now says he has held off doing that pending negotiations with Canada and Mexico, but Trump has left a threat to withdraw hovering over talks.

Bloomberg: Trump Says Nafta Pullout Still Possible If Renegotiation Fails

President Donald Trump said Thursday he’s still ready to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if he can’t renegotiate better terms for the U.S. but that he decided to hold off on a decision after appeals from the leaders of Canada and Mexico.

“I was going to terminate NAFTA as of two or three days from now,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. But he said he reconsidered after Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both phoned him Wednesday asking him to renegotiate the deal instead. Those talks will start as soon as today, he said.

Trump also said a quick U.S. withdrawal “would be a pretty big shock to the system.”

But Trump… added that “If I’m unable to make a fair deal for the United States–meaning a fair deal for our workers and our companies, I will terminate NAFTA.”

So the threat is still there. That seems to be how Trump likes to ‘negotiate’. And how he deals with ‘promises’.

Back in December:  Trump’s stance on NAFTA was a ‘campaign promise designed to be broken’

President-elect Donald Trump’s vow to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, would have a detrimental impact on the United States’ automobile industry and its jobs, VLF Automotive CEO Bob Lutz told CNBC on Friday.

Once Trump looks at the impact of the goals he voiced on the campaign trail, he will find a way out of pushing the auto industry into disarray, Lutz said on CNBC’s “Power Lunch.”

“I have every confidence that this is a campaign promise that is designed to be broken,” Lutz said.

“Trump is a reasonable, good, analytical businessman. Once he takes an earnest look at pluses and minuses of dealing with NAFTA and sees what the impact on American jobs [is],” he’ll find a way to roll back any promise of dismantling the agreement, Lutz contended.

The problem with Trump’s argument that producing car parts abroad constitutes unfair trade practices is that there are international systems in place that are mutually beneficial, said Lutz, who was formerly the vice chairman of General Motors.

So those who voted for Trump based on his promises may have to get used to his wheeling and dealing and flip flopping.

The North American Free Trade Agreement came into force on 1994.

Most economic analyses indicate that NAFTA has been a small net positive for the United States, large net positive for Mexico and had an insignificant impact on Canada.

Chad P. Bown (senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics): “a renegotiated NAFTA that would reestablish trade barriers is unlikely to help workers who lost their jobs — regardless of the cause — take advantage of new employment opportunities.”

Harvard economist Marc Melitz: “recent research estimates that the repeal of NAFTA would not increase car production in the United States.” Melitz notes that this would cost manufacturing jobs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Free_Trade_Agreement

US “massive tax cuts and tax reform”

As promised the Trump administration is proposing “massive tax cuts and tax reform”.

Fox News: Mnuchin vows ‘biggest tax cut’ in US history, confirms plan to slash business rate

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed Wednesday that the Trump administration aims to lower business tax rates to 15 percent, saying a forthcoming proposal will constitute the “biggest tax cut” for Americans in history.

“This is going to be the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country,” Mnuchin said, as administration officials prepare to outline Wednesday afternoon what he described as “principles” of their tax plan.

Mnuchin, speaking at a Washington forum, would not reveal many specifics but confirmed that they want to lower the business rate to 15 percent.

“I will confirm that the business tax is going to be 15 percent,” he said. “[Trump] thinks that’s absolutely critical to drive growth.”

He indicated that the rate for small businesses and the corporate tax would both drop to 15 percent. The top small business rate is 39.6 percent; the current corporate tax is 35 percent.

Mnuchin also said the administration wants to “do the whole thing,” and not pursue tax reform piece by piece. Amid concerns that such sweeping tax cuts would significantly reduce revenue for the government, he suggested economic growth will help pay for the plan.

But there is no current plan to increase revenue to make up a massive shortfall.

The plan, though, is likely to run into tough questions from Democrats and some fiscal hawks about the impact on the federal deficit and national debt.

On Tuesday, the official scorekeeper for Congress dealt a blow to the argument that tax cuts pay for themselves.

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation said a big cut in corporate taxes, even if temporary, would add to long-term budget deficits. This is a problem for Republicans because it means they would need Democratic support in the Senate to pass a tax overhaul that significantly cuts corporate taxes.

US tax rates are relatively high and that encourages tax avoidance, so they could attract business back into the US.

They hope that the tax cuts will pay for themselves with economic growth – and at the same time want to clamp down on trade. A huge gamble.

Poll: Trump would beat Clinton again

Different poll slants from the US, none of which mean much.

12h12 hours ago

New News/WaPo poll: 56% say Trump has accomplished either not much or nothing in his first 100 days in office

Washington Examiner saw something different of interest: Wash Post poll hides: Trump still beats Clinton, 43%-40%

A new Washington Post poll that declares President Trump as “the least popular president in modern times,” waits until the second to last paragraph to reveal another tidbit: He’d still beat Hillary Rodham Clinton if the election were held today and in the popular vote, not just Electoral College.

It probably wasn’t prominent because it isn’t very important.

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Clinton is failed political history so it’s not surprising to see her support waning. It’s more notable that Trump’s support is staying low even though he is now president and getting a lot of attention.

Also unchanged: His base still likes him.

That’s not surprising, he had strong support from his base and hasn’t done much that would lose that support. He hasn’t done much to gain support from people who doubted his abilities either.

The poll found that Trump’s polls continue to be upside down, with a 42 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval.

That’s similar to most other polls. Trump’s approval was diving until his missile strike in Syria and big bomb drop in Afghanistan, after which it recovered a little but that doesn’t seem to have been sustained.

RCPApproval2017-04-23

Trump still has a lot to prove – that he can get things done as promised, and that he won’t stuff up the world and provoke Armageddon.

Support may drop off if he keeps failing to deliver on his tough talk and campaign promises, like this winding back the rhetoric.

The Nation: US and North Korea

This weekend on The Nation:

Is the show down between North Korea and the US just posturing?
Lisa Owen talks to Washington Post correspondent Anna Fifield.

Stuff: Russia denies moving troops to border with North Korea

Russian authorities are denying reports that they are moving troops to the border with North Korea over growing tensions in the Korean peninsula.

The Interfax news agency on Friday quoted Alexander Gordeyev, spokesman for the Far Eastern Military district, as saying that the movement of heavy weaponry, caught on film and widely distributed on social media, is part of “absolutely scheduled manoeuvres of combat readiness”.

Gordeyev said the military hardware was on its way back from drills elsewhere and denied any connection to the tensions around North Korea’s nuclear program.

In Moscow, first deputy chairman of the defence committee at the Federation Council, Frants Klintsevich, told RIA Novosti the movement was pre-planned and dismissed reports suggesting Russia was preparing for a possible US attack on North Korea as speculation.

Global News: South Korea on heightened alert amid concerns over new North Korea nuke test

South Korea said on Friday it was on heightened alert ahead of another important anniversary in North Korea, with a large concentration of military hardware amassed on both sides of the border amid concerns about a new nuclear test by Pyongyang.

North Korea said late on Friday the state of affairs on the Korean peninsula was “extremely perilous” because of “madcap American nuclear war manoeuvres aimed at trampling on our sovereignty and right to survival.”

U.S. officials said there was a higher-than-usual level of activity by Chinese bombers, signalling a possible heightened state of readiness by reclusive North Korea’s sole major ally, although the officials played down concern and left open a range of possible reasons. Beijing denied its aircraft were on an increased level of alert.

 

Putin linked to plan to sway US election

The controversy over how much Russia tried to influence the US presidential election last year continues with the claim that two documents link Vladimir Putin to attempts to help Donald Trump’s campaign and to attack Hillary Clinton.

Reuters reports: Exclusive: Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 U.S. election – documents

A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [en.riss.ru/], after the election.

The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office.

The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals.

It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said.

A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election.

For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said.

The documents were central to the Obama administration’s conclusion that Russia mounted a “fake news” campaign and launched cyber attacks against Democratic Party groups and Clinton’s campaign, the current and former officials said.

“Putin had the objective in mind all along, and he asked the institute to draw him a road map,” said one of the sources, a former senior U.S. intelligence official.

Four of the officials said the approach outlined in the June strategy paper was a broadening of an effort the Putin administration launched in March 2016. That month the Kremlin instructed state-backed media outlets, including international platforms Russia Today and Sputnik news agency, to start producing positive reports on Trump’s quest for the U.S. presidency, the officials said.

Several specific examples of the Russian news agencies involvement:

  • Russia Today and Sputnik published anti-Clinton stories while pro-Kremlin bloggers prepared a Twitter campaign calling into question the fairness of an anticipated Clinton victory, according to a report by U.S. intelligence agencies on Russian interference in the election made public in January. [bit.ly/2kMiKSA]
  • Russia Today’s most popular Clinton video – “How 100% of the 2015 Clintons’ ‘charity’ went to … themselves” – accumulated 9 millions views on social media, according to the January report. [bit.ly/2os8wIt]
  • Russia Today and Sputnik “consistently cast president elect-Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional media outlets.”

Sounds a lot like the Trump campaign. Who followed who’s lead?

Scott Brown nominated as NZ ambassador

Ex-US senator and Trump campaign supporter Scott Brown has been nominated as the new US ambassador to New Zealand. This requires confirmation from the US Senate.

The previous ambassador, Obama appointee Mark Gilbert, had to leave New Zealand when Trump took office on 20 January.

Fox News:  Trump to nominate Scott Brown as New Zealand ambassador

President Trump announced Thursday he will nominate former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown as ambassador to New Zealand.

Brown, a moderate Republican and a Fox News contributor, burst onto the national stage in 2010 when he won the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat after Kennedy’s death.

His blue-state victory was of particular national significance as his election gave the GOP a 41st vote in the Senate, and with it the ability to filibuster legislation during the debate over then-President Obama’s signature health care law.

A version of the legislation passed anyway, and Brown later lost his seat in 2012 to current Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

A different headline from NZ Herald: Man tipped for US ambassador role in NZ a former nude model who supports waterboarding

The man tipped to be President Donald Trump’s US ambassador to New Zealand is a former naked centrefold and supports the use of waterboarding.

In 1982 he nailed Cosmopolitan magazine’s “America’s Sexiest Man” competition, with the former Army man then turning his hand to politics.

His Cosmopolitan past is hardly relevant 35 years later, and hopefully his support of waterboarding won’t impact in New Zealand. We have different water problems here, cow rather than bull related.

Last year avid cyclist Brown told GQ magazine “I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand or Scotland or Wales and just ride 100 miles, hit a pub, drink, eat, sleep, do some exploring, and then get up, ride another 100 miles, do that for a couple weeks.”

Washington Examiner has a more recent report: Trump names Scott Brown ambassador to New Zealand

President Trump on Thursday said he plans to nominate former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown as ambassador to New Zealand.

“If confirmed, Scott Brown of Massachusetts will serve as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to New Zealand,” the White House said in a release.

“Mr. Brown is a lawyer and former United States Senator. Mr. Brown served in the Massachusetts Army National Guard before receiving his law degree from Boston College Law School,” the White House said. “He then went on to serve in the Massachusetts legislature for over a decade before winning the special election for Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat in 2010. Since serving in the Senate, Mr. Brown has been a political contributor for Fox News.”

Brown endorsed Trump for president before New Hampshire’s primary in 2016.

It’s normal for US ambassadors to be political appointments, often awarded for services or support rendered.

Bill O’Reilly leaving Fox

Following controversy over allegations of sexual harassment of female colleagues Fox News has dumped one of their most prominent presenters, Bill O’Reilly.

StatementFoxOreilly

 

‘Buy American’ and ‘Hire American’ Directives

The Trump administration is proceeding with more election promises, in this case to toughen up on immigrant workers and on imports.

Trump claims wide support, more jobs available and higher wages for Americans are sure to be popular, but support for higher prices that are likely to result has not been polled.

At this stage it only involves reviews to look at measures that could be taken.

Wall Street Journal: Trump Expected to Bolster ‘Buy American’ and ‘Hire American’ Directives

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order in Wisconsin on Tuesday directing a government-wide review aimed at putting new teeth back into decades-old “Buy American” and “Hire American” directives.

The 220-day review process, which could lead to additional executive orders and possibly legislation, will focus on preventing foreign workers with H-1B visas from, as one senior administration official put it, “undercutting American labor at less cost,” which the official labeled as “an abuse” of the current system.

“This is a clear statement from the president of the United States to shore up some of these abuses,” the official continued. The goal, the official said, is ensuring that “everyone can have a realistic path to economic success and full employment.”

The order will call for a review by federal agencies aimed at stricter enforcement of immigration and other laws governing the entry of workers into the U.S.

Cheap immigrant labour has benefited US employers and business, but has impacted on American unemployment.

In addition to the visa program, federal agencies will be asked to review and minimize the use of waivers and exceptions to Buy American policies as well as assess the degree to which waivers included in free-trade agreements have hurt American workers.

If those waivers, which are part of trade agreements with nearly 60 countries, are deemed to have put the U.S. at a disadvantage, as administration officials believe to be the case, those deals are likely to be renegotiated, the official said.

That could take quite a while to do, and re-negotiations may work both ways, not all in favour of the US.

The White House touted broad public support for the directives, pointing to a November 2016 poll by the Mellman Group showing 74% of respondents supporting the use of American workers and materials in publicly financed products.

That’s not a surprise, but I don’t know if people were also polled on whether they supported higher prices for goods or higher taxes to pay for more expensive public projects.

The order also will demand the use of American-made steel in publicly financed infrastructure and other construction projects. It clarifies that steel slab imported from and primarily constructed in foreign countries but finished in the U.S. won’t meet that directive.

Publicly funded projects only, so Trump companies could still build hotels with imported steel? See HOW DONALD TRUMP DITCHED U.S. STEEL WORKERS IN FAVOR OF CHINA:

Newsweek investigation has found that in at least two of Trump’s last three construction projects, Trump opted to purchase his steel and aluminum from Chinese manufacturers rather than United States corporations.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has maintained that some controversial decisions for his companies amounted to nothing more than taking actions that were good for business, and were therefore reflections of his financial acumen. But, with the exception of one business that collapsed into multiple bankruptcies, Trump does not operate a public company; he has no fiduciary obligation to shareholders to obtain the highest returns he can. His decisions to turn away from American producers were not driven by legal obligations to investors, but simply resulted in higher profits for himself and his family.

Another case with Trump saying ‘do as I say, not as I do’.

 

North Korea is not unpredictable?

Political and foreign correspondent Stan Grant writes that claims that North Korea is unpredictable are wrong.

RNZ: Kim probable: Why North Korea is not unpredictable

I have lost count of how many times this week I have heard or read analysts – and indeed government ministers – describe North Korea as “unpredictable”. It is a cliche, it is simplistic and it is wrong.

Nearly two decades of covering the goings-on inside the ‘hermit kingdom’ – both outside and inside the country – has taught me that the Kim regime is dangerous, brutal and petulant but if anything, predictable.

Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions reach back to the 1960s, but accelerated in the ’80s. It has conducted at least five nuclear tests, the most recent just last year, raising speculation – widely discounted – that North Korea has developed a hydrogen bomb, much more powerful than conventional atomic bombs.

According to various estimates, it has a stockpile of at least 10 and perhaps as many as 20 nuclear weapons. What it needs is the capacity to deliver them. It is working on that, developing missiles that could reach Australia or the continental United States.

Many will see that as dangerous. But so far in the nuclear age no country has used nuclear weapons to launch a new attack on another country.

None of that is unpredictable. It is calculated and it is aimed at one thing – regime survival.

Victor Cha, long-time North Korea watcher, American academic and author of The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future, once revealed that in nuclear negotiations with the United States and other parties in 2005, a Pyongyang envoy candidly said:

“The reason you attacked Afghanistan is because they don’t have nukes. And look at what happened to Libya. That is why we will never give up ours.”

This was a telling glimpse into the mind of a country that believes it is under siege.

North Korea isn’t the only country to arm themselves with nuclear weapons to try to protect themselves from attack.

Who is most likely to attack North Korea?

North Korea is ringed by American fire-power. There are as many as 30,000 US troops over the border in South Korea and just this week Washington has ordered its warships into the Korean coast.

North Korea and the US are still technically at war more than 60 years after the armistice. There has never been a peace treaty.

And the US under President Trump has increased it’s threatening language, going as far as saying they are considering a ‘-pre-emptive’ attack on North Korea.

I wouldn’t trust North Korea – especially when put under this much pressure.

But if a nuclear bomb goes off it won’t be just one country that is responsible.

Who is the most unpredictable, Kim or Trump?