Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 8:43 AM

The Week Trump Kissed Up to Saudi Arabia, Kissed Off Europe, and French Kissed the Philippines

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

One of the many unseemly things about Donald Trump as president of the United States is his longing admiration for dictators. In “Hail Erdogan – Nouveau Sultan of Turkey,” April 17, 2017, I ridiculed this as his dictator envy.

But even I was left stupefied as I watched him play über dictator on the world stage last week.

Trump began his first presidential trip abroad at an “Arab Islamic American Summit” in Saudi Arabia, where he reveled among potentates as if they had just elected him their honorary Caliph. He ended it at a NATO Summit in Belgium, where he treated Western leaders as if they were nothing more than ungrateful vassals of his “America First” state of mind.

What truly beggars belief, however, is the antic camaraderie Trump exhibited among those Muslim autocrats. I’ve already referenced his dictator envy. Therefore, his sociopathic tendency to project is the only other thing that can help explain it. This refers to his infamous habit of accusing others of traits, blame, behavior, etc. that inhere in himself. In this case, perhaps Trump is the closet Muslim he used to accuse Obama of being …

Trump clearly thought he was being fêted. But he was being fattened like a white cow for zabiha (slaughter). After all, the 50 Sunni leaders at this summit clearly intended to lure him (i.e., the United States) to side with them in the Sunni-Shia conflict that has defined Islam for over a thousand years. They tried this with Obama to no avail for eight years. But Trump fell for it hook, line, and sinker in four months.

They fattened him up with hundreds of billions in arms and other deals. And Trump showed Pavlovian appreciation. But the real price for his egomaniacal folly will be paid in the blood of more American soldiers on the killing fields of the Middle East, as well as that of innocent Americans on the streets of the United States.

His folly in this latter case is particularly insidious. Because Trump is siding with the very Sunni leaders who fund and/or inspire over 90 percent of the terrorism that plagues the world today. I commented more fully on this fateful irony just days ago in “WTF: Saudis Giving Islamophobic Trump the Royal Treatment…?” May 20, 2017.

Meanwhile, this is the same Trump who ridiculed Obama for bowing to the Saudi king. But, in his contradictory fashion, he also accused Michelle Obama of “insulting the Saudis” by not wearing a headscarf during her husband’s state visit.

As it happens, though, Trump’s contradictions are surpassed in their brazenness only by his hypocrisies. Therefore, it came as no surprise when a video of Trump curtsying to the king went viral last week. He also didn’t seem to mind his wife insulting the Saudis by not wearing a headscarf during his state visit.

Apropos of insulting hosts, Trump began insulting America’s European allies long before his arrival in Brussels on May 24. Therefore, it also came as no surprise when, on this occasion to reaffirm the ties that bind the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), his words reeked like a skunk at a garden party.

Specifically, he hurled patently misguided allegations about Europeans sponging off American taxpayers for their national defense, respectively. That was bad enough. But he added injury when he physically pushed aside the prime minister of Montenegro – who happened to be standing where Trump felt he needed to be to preen as top peacock for a routine photo op.

Accordingly, he not only stunk up the place, but behaved like a bull in a China shop to boot, which probably gives bulls a bad name. Alas, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel telegraphed, the fallout might prove seismic and historic:

Speaking at a beer hall rally in Munich on Sunday, Merkel suggested that the era when Europe could rely on the United States may be coming to an end. …

‘I experienced that in the last a few days, and therefore I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands … we have to fight for our own future and destiny as Europeans.’

The dramatic announcement came after contentious meetings with Trump, who had used his first official trip to Europe to criticize German trade, scold world leaders about their NATO spending and refuse to commit to the Paris agreement on combating climate change.

(Washington Post, May 29, 2017)

In other words, Trump did in two days what Russian President Vladimir Putin has been trying to do for nearly two decades: He sowed discord in NATO – the greatest military alliance in the history of mankind and the unassailable guarantor of peace on the Continent of Europe since WWII.

Not content with that, though, he also sowed discord over the global effort to combat climate change. In this case, he vowed to withdraw the United States from the Paris accord, which nearly every county in the world has signed on to. Indeed, it speaks volumes that, if he follows through, the United States will be in dubious company with only two other countries, namely Syria, which has been too beset by civil war to care, and Nicaragua, which insists the accord does not do enough to protect the environment. (Withdrawing would easily be the most perverse of his “America First” (Earth in the Balance?) policies, but this is not the commentary to elaborate.)

But it’s a wonder he didn’t declare his intent to withdraw from the G7 — the influential group of Western democracies that meets regularly to coordinate economic, security, and energy policy

Yet despite all this, the preternaturally clueless Trump is hailing his trip as “a great success.” Of course, Putin must be laughing at his dumb luck. After all, he could never have imagined having an American president who seems almost as hell-bent as he is on undermining the democratic institutions, multilateral agreements, and military alliances that have reinforced America’s status as leader of the free world for the past 70 years.

This brings me to his blossoming bromance with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. In fact, the foregoing should explain why the following came as no surprise:

US President Donald Trump told his Philippines’ counterpart that he was doing a good job fighting an illegal drug epidemic in his country, an effort that has led to thousands of deaths and drawn international condemnation from human rights groups. …

‘Any assertion by any world leader, including, US President Donald Trump, that Duterte is doing ‘an unbelievable job’ by cheerleading a murderous campaign that has killed more than 7,000 Filipinos is not only a gross insult to those victims and their family members, but sends a signal to Duterte and his willing executioners that their lawless killing spree can continue with a vengeance without fear of international criticism and repercussions,’ said Phelim Kline of Human Rights Watch. …

When former US President Barack Obama’s administration said Obama would raise the issue during a meeting between the two, Duterte called his former US counterpart a ‘son of a bitch.’

(CNN, May 24, 2017)

Frankly, Trump might be lauding Duterte again very soon. This time for imposing martial law in the Philippine city of Marawi, where pro-ISIS forces are trying to create an Islamist sanctuary.

It is especially noteworthy that, in exhorting government forces to “drive them out,” Duterte offered this perverse incentive:

Duterte has sought to reassure soldiers who might be accused of committing abuses under martial law and jokingly said that if any of them were to rape three women, he would personally claim responsibility for it.

(Reuters, May 27, 2017)

Actually, the joke’s on anyone who thinks he was just joking. After all, this is the same Duterte who reportedly joked during his presidential campaign about murdering drug dealers. Yet nothing has distinguished his presidency quite like his murderous anti-drug campaign.

Indeed, this is why Duterte’s “jokes” should put him in legal jeopardy. Hell, even Trump might have advised that, instead of raping, he should have exhorted his soldiers to limit their predatory behavior to aggressively kissing women and grabbing them by the pussy.

Except that Trump is facing criminal and congressional investigations up the wazoo over relatively benign allegations of colluding with Russians to win a presidential campaign. Whereas Duterte is getting away with all kinds of high crimes and misdemeanors, including mass murder:

Lawmakers in the Philippines on Monday threw out an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte that accused him of orchestrating the mass murder of thousands of people in his crackdown on drug use. …

Mr. Alejano, a former Marine captain, accused Mr. Duterte of bribery, murder and crimes against humanity. He said that Mr. Duterte had also encouraged police officers to kill as part of his anti-drug campaign.

(New York Times, May 15, 2017)

Given this, Trump could be forgiven if his longing admiration for Duterte were laced with dictator envy.

In any event, it’s worth recalling in this context what putatively sensible Republicans (most notably Senator John McCain of Arizona) insisted was Trump’s only saving grace. It was his decision to nominate cabinet members like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Those Republicans assured the world that these secretaries would have an enlightening effect on Trump. But am I the only one who has yet to see any of that effect? Even worse, there’s often no difference between what we hear from them and what we hear from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Trump’s other PR flaks. These secretaries and those Republicans have some ‘splainin’ to do.

And don’t get me started on the moderating effect his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared were supposed to have on him. I pooh-pooed that liberal fantasy long ago in “Trumpasites Already Gagging on Big Lies (a.k.a. Alternative Facts) and Outrageous Pledges They Swallowed,” January 30, 2017.

Related commentaries:
WTF: Saudis…Islamophobic Trump
Trump pussy-grabbing
Trump’s worst nightmare

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