Donald Trump doesn’t understand time zones, wants to call foreign leaders at awkward hours (for them), and doesn’t recognize or know how to pronounce the names of many countries on the map, Politico is reporting.
Anonymous White House insiders say that Trump’s foreign policy has been hindered by his complete inability to grasp basic facts about geography – to the point that National Security Council members have to educate him about the subject “repeatedly.”
One problem is that the map is a difficult concept for him, as are the names of some of the countries on it, say NSC insiders speaking on condition of anonymity. For example, looking at a map of southeast Asia, Trump reportedly pronounced Bhutan as “Button” and Nepal as “Nipple.”
What’s more, according to New York Magazine, Trump was particularly dumbfounded by that part of Asia in general, according to sources.
“Trump appeared confused by Nepal and Bhutan, which lie sandwiched between India and China. He didn’t know what those were. He thought it was all part of India. He was like, ‘What is this stuff in between and these other countries?'”
He also reportedly failed to grasp the fact that different countries have different foreign relations issues of their own, apart from their relationships with the United States. For example, Trump failed to understand that, while the U.S. and Japan have a good relationship, China and Japan do not. So when Trump was on the phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump reportedly praised Chinese President Xi Jinping. “Everyone was cringing,” says an anonymous NSC staffer.
On the subject of being on the phone with foreign leaders, Trump is apparently baffled by time zones as well. Staffers say that, on a weekday afternoon in Washington, Trump wanted to call Abe. What Trump failed to realize is that when it’s afternoon in Washington, it’s late at night in Tokyo.
“He 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.”
Further, Trump apparently had a “time zones be damned” attitude when the concept was explained to him.
“When he wants to call someone, he wants to call someone. He’s more impulsive that way. He doesn’t think about what time it is or who it is.”
At this point, it bears noting that another anonymous White House official was unaware of such gaffes, and said that as far as he (the anonymous staffer) knows, Trump fully understood the issues and asked only reasonable and appropriate questions.