SecState Mike Pompeo: I need you to talk to the Ambassador from Niger.
UnderSec African Affairs: Why?
SecState: You need to get them to change their country's name.
UnderSec: WHAT? Why? How?
SecState: Just . . . trust me on this.https://t.co/E9xqOAd4dy
— SituationRoomHat (@Popehat) August 13, 2018
… Extremely trying, sometimes. If this were any outlet but Politico, I’d suspect them of tongue-in-cheek snark:
Several times in the first year of his administration, President Donald Trump wanted to call Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the middle of the afternoon. But there was a problem. Midafternoon in Washington is the middle of the night in Tokyo — when Abe would be fast asleep.
Trump’s aides had to explain the issue, which one diplomatic source said came up on “a constant basis,” but it wasn’t easy.
“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,” said a former Trump NSC official. “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,” added a person close to Trump…
Trump’s desire to call world leaders at awkward hours is just one of many previously unreported diplomatic faux pas Trump has made since assuming the presidency, which go beyond telephone etiquette to include misconceptions, mispronunciations and awkward meetings. Sometimes the foibles have been contained within the White House. In one case, Trump, while studying a briefer’s map of South Asia ahead of a 2017 meeting with India’s prime minister, mispronounced Nepal as “nipple” and laughingly referred to Bhutan as “button,” according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting…
Another former Trump NSC official said Trump sometimes avoids saying certain words or names when talking to a foreign leader because he’s unsure whether he can pronounce them properly. The White House official said Trump always wants to be respectful and make sure he gets pronunciations right.
At times, he wings it with unfortunate results. Meeting with a group of African countries at the United Nations General Assembly last September, Trump, in public remarks, referred to the country of Namibia as “Nambia.” (Trump did impress some of his own aides in the meeting, however. “He did a very good job of saying Côte d’Ivoire,” said one.)
Trump also raised eyebrows during the same gathering when he announced that “I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you” — prompting cringes among some aides aware how such talk would resonate on a continent that well remembers the exploitations of its colonial era. (Some African entrepreneurs said they appreciated the comment.)…
Trump’s love of talking on the phone has created special problems for his top national security officials, who say that he sometimes places calls that have no clear diplomatic purpose…
Can toddlers still random-dial strangers, now that rotary and pushbutton phones have effectively vanished? Or are they reduced to punching the ‘last dialed’ numbers for mommy’s work colleagues and daddy’s business contacts? Because I remember my three-year-old siblings were really fascinated by the telephone game, back in the day…
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) August 13, 2018
In the end America’s downfall would come not from communism or terrorism, but rather … stupid https://t.co/8w9a8RLT1Q
— Michael Cohen (@speechboy71) August 13, 2018