Drug War

'What a Great Job You Are Doing,' Trump Tells Thug Who Fights Drugs With Murder

Trump praises Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, which is tied to thousands of extrajudicial killings.



Last month critics of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's murderous anti-drug crusade were dismayed by the official White House summary of a "very friendly" telephone conversation in which Donald Trump praised the bloodthirsty authoritarian for "fighting very hard to rid [his] country of drugs." A newly revealed transcript of the April 29 call, prepared by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and published yesterday by The Washington Post, shows that Trump's comments were even more alarming than they sounded in the summary.

After some initial pleasantries, Trump announces the purpose of his call. "I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem," he says. "Many countries have a problem. We have a problem. But what a great job you are doing, and I just wanted to call and tell you that."

Duterte thanks Trump and adds, "This is the scourge of my nation now, and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation." Trump repeats his unqualified endorsement of Duterte's drug policies. "I understand that and fully understand that," he says, "and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that, but I understand that, and we have spoken about this before."

Trump is alluding to Barack Obama's criticism of Duterte's methods, which have included thousands of extrajudicial killings, routine falsification of evidence, and public incitement of murder as a justified response to drug addicts as well as drug dealers. While Obama may have had a problem with Duterte's approach, Trump is saying, he understands that fighting drugs requires extreme measures.

Since Trump is clearly aware that Duterte's war on drugs has attracted international criticism, it is hard to excuse his enthusiasm as a product of ignorance. In fact, his own State Department has raised concerns similar to those heard from the Obama administration. Last month Patrick Murphy, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Southeast Asia, said American diplomats "have a very sustained and deep concern when elements of the drug war are operating outside the rule of law," adding that "the growing number of extrajudicial killings is troubling." Trump not only seems to have no such qualms; he wants Duterte to know he has no qualms, which can only encourage the appalling violence that has been the hallmark of the Philippine president's anti-drug campaign.

"We are not here to lecture," Trump said during his recent trip to Saudi Arabia. "We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship." The implication was that the United States should not meddle in another country's internal affairs, that the way a government treats its own people is none of America's business.

Trump, who bombed a Syrian airbase in response to the government's sarin gas attack on a rebel-held town, is by no means consistent in maintaining that noninterventionist position, which is sound as a constraint on military action. Whether the same circumspection should extend to verbal expressions of disapproval is another matter. And even if there were an argument for muting criticism of an ally's unjust policies in some situations, it would not require the president to actively encourage systematic violations of human rights, as Trump is doing here.

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  1. Aw, Puff Thuggy has found a soulmate!

  2. “All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptable. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.”

    -Frank Herbert,

    1. I have a hard time understanding how becoming “addicted” to getting “drunk on violence” isn’t the direct mechanical explanation of “power corrupts”.

      I conclude that FH was kind of a moron, TBH.

      1. F.H. was wrong. Power does attract the pathological but it also attracts the healthy, out of good intention. In its exercise, the slow corruption begins. I saw it in the L.P. right from the beginning in the early ’70s. It was scary to watch but even I was not immune to the political mentality. When I realized it I got out. I tried to explain it to the chairman of the NV LP when he asked, but he was too far gone. He tried to recruit me again 30 years later. I felt sorry for him. He was still stuck on politics. It was his whole life. What a waste.

  3. A newly revealed transcript of the April 29 call, prepared by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and published yesterday by The Washington Post


    1. Yeah, you wish!

      Unfortunately, it’s most likely true and par for the course for authoritarian statist fucks regardless of the letter after their names. See the previous post with the quote from Frank Herbert. Government attracts pathological personalities.

  4. It could have been worse. He could have said, “Heckuva a job, Brownie.”

    1. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, when he was prohibitionist Governor of the Filipinas, called them “out little brown brothers” in “Some Recent Instances of National Altruism,” National Geographic, July 1907, 438. Mister Dooley also had a lot to say about the Raypublican moral illivation iv the “mis’rable, childish-minded apes, we propose f’r to larn ye th’ uses iv liberty. In ivry city in this unfair land we will erect school-houses, and’ packin’ houses an’ houses iv correction!” What we are aghast to witness in Las Islas Filipinas is merely the continuation of the policies of the Republican Party.

  5. Christ, what assholes.

  6. This is like a match made in heaven – Don and Rodrigo are perfect for each other.

  7. it is hard to excuse his enthusiasm as a product of ignorance

    It’s not that hard. And if you’re of an over-analytic bent and tend to ignore Ockham’s razor, you can explain it as 8th-level wizardry rather than the mentality of the typical two-year old who hasn’t yet internalized empathy and is only aware of his own self. Now might be a good time to go re-watch Being There.

    1. I like to watch.

  8. Duterte Harry is right in one sense. The only way to win the WOD is to suspend/repeal constitutional rights and murder all suspects. But if you get your fix from a doctor, that’s cool.

    1. “The only way to win the WOD is to suspend/repeal constitutional rights”

      Didn’t Duterte just declare martial law on the island of Mindanao?

  9. He goes on to tell Duterte that the US has two nuclear subs ready to strike North Korea.

    Maybe it was a bad idea to put a guy with hand-envy in charge of the US armed forces.

  10. Reading the transcript, this was a call about the situation in North Korea and how important it was to get China to put economic pressure on them to stop their weapons program. Heads of state say nice things to each other (with all of the sincerity of a teenage boy on prom night) all the time in the hopes of getting the other to do things they want ? either because they think the other is susceptible to flattery or because they know how important face is on the international stage. The Philippines have been an ally of the United States since the Second World War but under Obama, they were talking about cutting ties to the United States. If you read the transcript between the two leaders, the president of Philippines responded to Trump’s comments by offering to speak to China on our behalf to get them to put economic pressure on North Korea to stop their weapons program. I’d say that’s worth a few words of flattery.

    1. don’t bring reality into sound bites out of context. that only confuses those who like to jump to conclusions to satisfy their TDS

      1. On the other hand, every word out of a president’s mouth matters, and this president praised Duterte’s systematic summary executions as good drug policy.

        1. If President Trump ever seriously proposed adopting extrajudicial killings as policy in the United States, then it’s cause for concern. Until then, it’s pretty clear that Trump was just trying to distancing himself from Obama who alienated Duterte over something that does not impact our interests as a nation. It is more beneficial for the United States to have the Philippines in our corner when dealing with China and North Korea and a few words of flattery to help Duterte save face are a cheap way of doing that.

          1. Now imagine he has a (D) after his name and make the same defense, if you even can.

            1. As far as I’m concerned, Trump has always had a “(D)” after his name and the last election was a choice between the lesser evil of two Democrats.

              1. I have never seen a presidential election that was not between two socialists. But I’m only 74. If I was 200?

    2. Well if you put it that way, maybe we ought to send them guns, Catholic Advisors and Trooper Tiller of Seneca to instruct in the proper way to shoot teenage potheads in the back. Solicitor Chrissy Adams could replace their A.G., deputize the local Vatican Guard Inquisition and rubber-stamp those murders to make them as judicial as sea-salt.

    3. Flattery about this specific issue is troubling regardless of context, especially given the appointment of Sessions. We don’t need to flatter the Saudis for beheading gay people. We just don’t mention it. It’s possible to be pragmatic in our diplomacy without explicitly approving of the horrific practices of other nations. Just say it’s not our business or don’t talk about it and praise them for something else

  11. This is the same country the USA invaded and turned prohibitionist at gunpoint in 1898 through 1908, mind you. And the Pope of Rome tells the voters to elect bloodthirsty fascists so they can force women to reproduce against their will. That’s how religious conservative Rodrigo Duterte gained office. Rubbers and birth control pills have barely been legal for three years in the Philippines, and the Supreme Court is under constant harassment to allow medieval Christian and modern Sharia fanaticism murder abuse and mutilate male and female teenagers there. Trump is simply parroting the Republican party platform, which calls for a prohibitionist America World bristling with bloody coathangers and sacred instruments of torture.

  12. Meanwhile – Obama – as well as leftists everywhere – absolutely adore and revel in the mass murdering duo of Castro and Guevara…the left are hypocrites to the extreme.

  13. A really hard crowd here. I think they may feel different is they lived in a shit hole, they have fought rebels and violent drug clans for a long time and if it takes a real war against the criminals there I am sure a lot of people that have lost family member to theses thugs couldn’t care less how many of those creeps die. Remember this is not at all like American society. In case you have not noticed there are many places around the world that face violent criminals murdering civilians frequently.

    1. “…violent criminals murdering civilians…”? Not “many places”, all governments, even “American society” supports the cops who murder unharmed civilians, e.g., the acquittal in Tulsa. Why? Is fear of self governance/self responsibility so strong that it trumps human decency and common sense? Is it mass immaturity that induces servitude to authority?

      Sometimes I am ashamed of my species.

  14. In Trumps defense, he is trying to butter him up to keep him from going into China’s sphere. As you know China is trying to turn one of the world busiest trade routes into it’s own personal toll road.

    The Philippines are allies of the USA, and we just have to keep him happy until the next coup, or our job of keeping the seas free for navigation is going to get more difficult.

  15. Well, our Donald loves, loves, loves cops, and they get away with “extrajudicial” murder (or is that redundant?) every day, it seems, although admittedly not on so grand a scale. And let’s not forget the thousands of Americans who die every year from accidental overdoses, tainted street drugs, and needle-borne disease, most, if not all, of which can be laid directly at the feet of our own dear drug war. Or the countless, nameless “drug offenders” who die of neglect, abuse, and/or suicide in our nation’s jails and prisons. Or the tens of thousands lost in Mexico and Central America’s US-fueled drug war. This is not to say that Duterte isn’t a horrible little man. He is. Or that our collective outrage isn’t justified. It is, absolutely. I’m just not seeing any moral high ground here. The global “war on drugs” started HERE. And here, in my not-so-humble opinion, is where we should start to stop it. It’s the only place we can, really.

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