Duarte has been accused of persistent human rights violations and it’s been alleged he has directed, and or condoned, extra-judicial murders of suspected drug users, dealers, and street children, by police and vigilantes. Duarte has bragged about personal kills and the total death count has been tallied at more than 1,400 between 1998-2016.
Notably, Duarte was the first world leader to call and congratulate Trump on his improbable election. Immediately after the call, Duarte claimed that Trump praised him for tremendous success in dealing with his country’s drug problem. That “success” has littered the streets in the Philippines with even more bodies since Duarte became President. The war on drugs, also, has been a handy way for Duarte to remove political opponents based on, sometimes, a flimsy accusation of drug trading, complicity, therein, or personal use of illicit substances.
Though Trump’s overall trip was disciplined, if un-stellar, except for trying to rally nations against North Korea, the President may think twice about how good it is to be home once he gets here. There will be questions about the Republican senatorial nominee in Alabama; the trouncing in every place his party appeared on a ballot in recent elections; tweets about a short fat man in
Pyongyang; and, the Republicans’ tax proposal that isn’t fleshed out yet. The bill is due by Thanksgiving and is sure to benefit the richest, including Trump and his offspring.
It was a good time, though, to skedaddle out of Washington. Team Mueller was breathing down the neck of former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, as the country wondered who’s going to be arrested next. Trump, however, did have some additional successes in Asia. He proved he could follow a script, read from a teleprompter; and Vladimir Putin reassured him that he had nothing to do with the 2016 election interference. For the doubting, Trump vouched for Putin’s sincerity, saying he believes Putin believes what Putin says.
While Trump was away, the news media he hates for failure to fawn over him continued to cover the Russian collusion case. The Mueller probe has landed on the Turkish employment of Mike Flynn, and an alleged $15,000,000 bounty on the head of a dissident Turkish cleric wanted at home for opposing Turkey’s present regime. Unknown is whether Flynn was going to share the money.
The biggest problem with the trip, however, had little to do with Trump’s newly found quasi-diplomacy. It was the persistence of Twitter attacks by the President on America’s intelligence apparatus. Trump has attacked it almost as often as the media, raising the question of what, if any, traditional American institutions he respects, including the presidency. The answer may define Trump’s place in history.