President Donald Trump reveals his ignorance of diplomacy and foreign policy in a myriad of ways, including trying to call Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the middle of the night Japanese time and pronouncing Nepal as “nipple,” according to a Monday Politico report.
A former NSC official told Politico that Trump “wasn’t great with recognizing that the leader of a country might be 80 or 85 years old and isn’t going to be awake or in the right place at 10:30 or 11 p.m. their time,” and needed to be talked down from calling world leaders randomly, in the middle of the night.
His advisors also have had to convince Trump not to call world leaders just to shoot the breeze. A former Trump national security official, while talking about Trump’s fascination with and frequent calls to French President Emmanuel Macron, said “These are very busy people. You don’t just call to check in.”
And when he did get connected to these world leaders, more often than not, Trump was likely to make pronunciation errors and display his basic lack of understanding about regional and historical political dynamics.
Sources told Politico that during a 2017 prep meeting before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s White House visit, Trump laughingly pronounced Nepal as “nipple” and Bhutan as “button.” He also didn’t know that Modi and his wife had been long estranged, and jokingly offered to “set him up” with someone.
Per Politico, some other mistakes Trump has made include pronouncing Namibia as “Nambia,” congratulating a group of representatives from African nations that many of his friends were going there to “try to get rich,” congratulating Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte for a “tremendous victory” when he has never won or run in an Italian election and praising Chinese leader Xi Jinping repeatedly during a meeting with Abe, Xi’s major rival.
The administration maintains that Trump’s gruff, “politically-incorrect” style helps him develop close relationships with world leaders.
“The President has developed strong relationships and good rapports that are not only friendly, but also allow for candid conversations with many of America’s closest allies,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Politico. “He has even worked the phone with our competitors, injecting stability into bilateral relationships that are undergoing contentious, but necessary readjustments to place American interests first. Foreign leaders appreciate that the President is willing to take their calls day and night.”