There’s a saying, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.”
If so, then President Donald Trump may well be a closet tyrant.
His “admiration” for Russian President Vladimir Putin is well known. His administration is suspected of having closer than expected ties to Putin that should make all Americans uncomfortable, at the very least.
And while he has pointed to North Korea as one of the most serious problems his presidency faces, Trump also said this week that he would be honored to have a face to face meeting with Kim Jong Un.
Finally, the US president invited his Philippine counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, to come and visit him in Washington some time in the near future.
So what do Putin, Kim and Duterte have in common?
Plenty. The trio are not exactly paragons of democracy. Or even decency. They are, in a word, tyrants. Not exactly the kind of leaders that the US should roll out the red carpet for.
Putin and Kim are communists, of course. And depending which way the wind blows on a particular day, our motherland’s chief executive is too. He is known to admire Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, and even attended an anniversary celebration of the New People’s Army while still Davao City mayor.
There is nothing wrong with the POTUS extending a hand of peace to its enemies. The world became a safer place when President Richard Nixon made peace with Mao Zedung. Ditto with President Ronald Reagan befriending USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Putin, however, is another matter, while Kim has openly threatened the US and its allies with nuclear war mere weeks ago.
As for Duterte, the less said about the Philippine leader, the better. The number of Filipinos his administration has killed in the name of its drug war is now more than 7,000 and counting. Some of the victims were innocent, and none were given their day in court.
While we cannot discount the possibility that Mr. Trump’s welcoming the three is part of a larger strategy, we also cannot help but be disturbed at his turning a blind eye to the horrors that the trio have inflicted on their countrymen.
Mr. Trump seems to forget that he is leader of the world’s greatest democracy. Other nations look to the US to show how democratic institutions must be preserved and protected at all costs.
His administration’s saying that Kim should be respected because he happens to be the leader of his nation is faulty logic. Kim inherited his position, as his father did before him. He was never elected in free elections.
Of the three, only Mr. Duterte was elected president, unfortunate as this was.
Mr. Putin may claim he was likewise freely elected, but only after the elections were heavily stacked against his opponents.
Mr. Trump is still learning the ropes of what being US president is all about, it seems. In the meantime, we can only pray and keep our fingers crossed that there is method to his apparent acts of madness.
- Published in Opinion & Community