This past week, President Barack Obama joined a group of major world leaders in Washington, D.C., for a Nuclear Security Summit. At the same time, Donald Trump said he has no objections to nuclear proliferation around the world.
John Oliver began his Last Week Tonight show on Sunday with these two parallel stories, first acknowledging a notable absence from the event: Russia’s Vladimir Putin. “A nuclear summit is pretty much the only gathering where you can legitimately say, ‘Man, this would be so much better if Vladimir Putin were here,’” the host remarked.
But then, pivoting to “America’s potential next president,” Oliver marveled at the GOP frontrunner’s blatant lack of knowledge on the issue.
“At some point we have to say, you know what, we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea,” Trump told Anderson Cooper at a CNN town hall on Tuesday. “We’re better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself.” As for Saudi Arabia getting a nuclear weapon? “Absolutely.”
“He says that with the confidence of a man who could easily find Saudi Arabia on the map,” Oliver said, “if he was given three tries and the map only included countries ending with ‘Arabia.’”
Trump even refused to rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe because, he said, “Europe is a big place.”
These comments drew a direct—and hilarious—rebuke from Obama, who told reporters that Trump “doesn’t know much about foreign policy, or nuclear policy, or the Korean Peninsula, or the world generally.”
“President Obama is basically implying there that you could fill a book with the things Donald Trump doesn’t know,” Oliver said. “That book being the encyclopedia.”
During a week when most comedians, not to mention hard-news reporters, put all the focus on Trump’s sexism, leave it to Oliver to draw attention to a policy position that could have even more devastating global implications.