President Donald Trump does not know anything about foreign policy. Now, it appears, he knows just as little about trade. This is more troubling as one of his selling points was that he was a successful businessman with a global company. You’d think that a person with such a vast empire (there are Trump Towers all over the planet) would know a thing or two about the subject. This idea was blown out of the water this week by comments from a German official about Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent visit to Washington, DC.
The official told The Times of London, “Ten times Trump asked [German chancellor Angela Merkel] if he could negotiate a trade deal with Germany. Every time she replied, ‘You can’t do a trade deal with Germany, only the EU.’ On the eleventh refusal, Trump finally got the message, ‘Oh, we’ll do a deal with Europe then.’”
For a man who claimed to be able to “make the best deals” for the United States with our trading partners, it helps to know who exactly those partners are.
As bad as that is, Trump’s lack of world knowledge is more than just problematic when it comes to problems the country is dealing with on the other side of the world. Not only has the Trump Administration failed to even nominate an ambassador to South Korea, up until China President Xi Jinping visited him at Mar-a-Lago, he was under the impression that the only thing that had to happen to contain North Korean leader, Kim Jung Un, was have China tell him to behave.
North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2017
After his visit with Xi, Trump told the Wall Street Journal, “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy. I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power [over] North Korea. … But it’s not what you would think.”
Keep in mind, Trump spent a lot of time during the campaign (and before) touting, “I know China.” He claimed that the combination of the work he has done with the Chinese and the “hundreds of books” he had read about China made him an expert on the region. All of this is odd, given his comments about that short (ten minutes!) conversation. His lack of understanding goes further.
After his meeting with Xi, Trump told an interviewer, “Korea actually used to be a part of China.”
This did not go over well with the South Korean government. Foreign spokesman Cho June-hyuck responded with, “It’s a clear fact acknowledged by the international community that, for thousands of years in history, Korea has never been part of China.”
But wait, there’s more.
An interview with Fox & Friends makes it appear that Trump really doesn’t even know who is running North Korea right now. He told them:
I hope things work out well. I hope there’s going to be peace, but you know, they’ve been talking with this gentleman for a long time. You read Clinton’s book, he said, ‘Oh we made such a great peace deal,’ and it was a joke. You look at different things over the years with President Obama. Everybody’s been outplayed, they’ve all been outplayed by this gentleman and we’ll see what happens. But I just don’t telegraph my moves.
Bill Clinton never dealt with the current leader, he dealt with his father, Kim Jung Il. Getting these facts wrong says a lot. Trump doesn’t know who to deal with when it comes to trade with Germany. He seems to have taken his information about Chinese and Korean history from Xi. He doesn’t appear to have a clue as to who the leader of North Korean leader. The questions with this president are not “What did he know and when did he know it?” but “Does he know anything and can he be taught?”
Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images