Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte probably isn’t sane.
The man once boasted, “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts…I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
He was off by about 3 million (Hitler had 6 million Jews slaughtered), but nobody tell him, please.
A September 2016 Washington Post article once noted:
Victims of the extra-judicial killing spree are drug suspects — or those misidentified as drug suspects —named on police lists and targeted before they are charged or given the chance to stand trial. Often their bodies are dumped by the roadside with signs that read “pusher.”
The United States, the United Nations and the European Union have all expressed concern about the conduct of the “war on drugs.” When President Obama raised the issue, Duterte lashed out using a slang term that translates as “son of a whore.” When the European Parliament issued a statement, Duterte literally gave them the finger.
Yeah. He seems sweet.
On Saturday, Duterte and President Trump spoke by phone, with Trump inviting Duterte to the White House.
The thing is, Trump didn’t clear this with the State Department first, and it has some eyebrows raising.
The Times reported Sunday that both the National Security Council and the State Department were caught off guard by the announcement, which set off criticism from human rights groups.
“By essentially endorsing Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings,” John Sifton of Human Rights Watch told the Times.
It may be a whole lot of nothing, but it sure feels like a bad idea.
Describing the conversation as “very friendly,” White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said the call was all about North Korea (another guy that’s probably not sane).
A readout of the call shows the relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines was the focus.
Maybe Trump feels he can forge a more agreeable relationship with Duterte than Obama – which wouldn’t be hard – but his working around his own State Department to deal with a leader who has Human Rights groups on high alert, due to the killing of his own people may not be the best move.