Philip Rucker writes: It’s no longer just Vladimir Putin.
As he settles into office, President Trump’s affection for totalitarian leaders has grown beyond Russia’s president to include strongmen around the globe.
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi has had his opponents gunned down, but Trump praised him for doing “a fantastic job.” Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is a junta chief whose military jailed dissidents after taking power in a coup, yet Trump offered to meet with him at the White House. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has eroded basic freedoms, but after a recent political victory, he got a congratulatory call from Trump.
Then there’s the case of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. He is accused of the extrajudicial killing of hundreds of drug users, and he maligned President Barack Obama as a “son of a whore” at an international summit last year. Yet on Sunday, in what the White House characterized as a “very friendly conversation,” Trump invited Duterte to Washington for an official visit.
In an undeniable shift in American foreign policy, Trump is cultivating authoritarian leaders, one after another, in an effort to reset relations following an era of ostracism and public shaming by Obama and his predecessors. [Continue reading…]
Roy Gutman writes: Erdoğan essentially pocketed Trump’s endorsement of the referendum, and apparent lack of concern about human rights violations, but continues to pursue national security policies that directly conflict with Washington’s agenda—even as he prepares to meet with Trump at the White House on May 16.
By any measure, Erdoğan’s actions appear provocative for a NATO ally who has been hoping to inaugurate a new era of improved relations with the United States after bitter enmity in the last years of the Obama administration. [Continue reading…]