Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte launched a bloody war on drugs that has killed more than 7,000 people, brags about personally executing criminals, and has compared himself to Hitler.
President Donald Trump just praised Duterte for "fighting very hard to rid [his] country of drugs" and invited him to visit the White House.
Trump's warm weekend phone call with Duterte, who once joked about raping an Australian missionary and called the pope a "son of a whore," illustrates two vital elements of Trump's approach to foreign policy, including one that has gotten far less attention than it deserves.
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The first is Trump's affinity for
But there's a second dynamic at play, one that is perhaps even more troubling. It isn't simply that Trump keeps warmly embracing some of the world's most brutal leaders. It's that he goes out of his way to specifically praise them for the specific things they've done that have most egregiously violated human rights, international norms, and basic tenets of democratic rule.