A new report reveals that neither the State Department nor the National Security Council were consulted before President Donald Trump’s decision to invite Philippine dictator Rodrigo Duterte to the White House.
Trump extended the invitation to Duterte on Saturday after a conversation that the White House described as “very friendly,” according to a report by The New York Times. Senior officials with knowledge of the situation state that both the State Department and the National Security Council are expected to protest this decision internally, in part because neither was consulted prior to Trump making his offer.
During the first six months of his presidency, Duterte is believed to have killed over 6,000 people in his country’s war on drugs. Many of these people were killed in extrajudicial proceedings that have been roundly condemned by human rights groups monitoring the situation.
As John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, told The New York Times: “By essentially endorsing Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings. Although the traits of his personality likely make it impossible, Trump should be ashamed of himself.”
By contrast, the Trump administration is depicting their invitation of Duterte as an effort to keep that nation out of China’s sphere of influence. Duterte had referred to President Barack Obama as the “son of a whore” due to Obama’s criticism of Duterte’s human rights record and had indicated an interest in strengthening his nation’s ties to China. During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus argued that Trump wishes to build an alliance throughout the Pacific region in order to more effectively exert pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.
Many experts claim that this argument doesn’t make much sense, however, considering that North Korea buys and sells its military technology in countries like Malaysia, not the Philippines.