Donald Trump's recent Asia-Pacific trip was largely a bust. Over the course of nearly two weeks, the American president helped China, watched helplessly as former U.S. trade partners forged a deal without us, and instead of taking a stand in support of human rights, cozied up to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Trump nevertheless pretended his sojourn was a great success, and boasted upon his return about, among other things, Japan's new investments in its own military. "This will include purchases of U.S. advanced capabilities," he said at a White House event last week, including "jet fighters."
The New York Times noted that Trump's claim appears to be wrong.
The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency has yet to notify Congress of any intended sale, which must happen before negotiations can begin.Japanese officials have also pushed back at the notion. In a report in The Japan Times last week, the Japanese chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said that Tokyo was following its existing defense procurement plan that was approved more than three years before Mr. Trump took office.
If Abe and Trump did reach some kind of agreement about a sale, the Times' report added that it would be "in a very preliminary stage in a process that could take years."
And while this may seem like a fairly modest falsehood by Trump standards, this reminded me of a larger thesis: the president says a lot of weird stuff about airplanes.
For example, over the summer, Trump hosted a White House press conference alongside President Sauli Niinisto of Finland, in which the American leader proclaimed that Finland is "purchasing large amounts of our great F-18 aircraft."
According to Finland, there is no such agreement in place.
Trump has also been caught falsely bragging about lowering the price of a new Air Force One. He's also repeatedly claimed to have done extraordinary work saving taxpayers millions on F-35 fighter jets, which is also demonstrably wrong.
Last week, Trump even made up a bizarre story about Barack Obama, while aboard Air Force One, trying and failing to land in the Philippines last year.
Maybe Trump should just avoid discussing air travel altogether for a while?