Wrapping up a 12-day trip to five different Asian nations, US President Donald Trump, now homeward bound to the Land of the Free, has observers saying that aside from firing off a few snide comments, 45 has been quite tame.
Speaking to Sputnik Radio’s By Any Means Necessary with Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon, John Kiriakou, co-host of fellow radio program “Loud and Clear,” says Trump “generally stayed on script” during his trip abroad.
“Presidents go with volumes of briefing books, they prepare for weeks in advance, they go with enormous packages of intelligence information to prepare them and they generally stay on script,” Kiriakou said. “[Trump’s] made a couple of deviations, he’s made a couple of idiotic tweets, but when push comes to shove and you look at what he has said inside these different summits and meetings, it’s been what his aides have told him to say.”
“I don’t think we’ve seen any bold diplomatic moves, I really don’t see anything different from what any other president has accomplished,” the 53-year-old CIA whistleblower added.
There was potential for a dustup with global rival China, but despite critiques POTUS has lobbed about China and the US trade deficit, the relationship between Beijing and Washington wasn’t weakened by Trump’s presence on Chinese soil (a low bar, to be sure).
“Trump’s rhetoric is one thing. You can criticize the Chinese and criticize the trade deficit, which is silly because it doesn’t really matter, but the truth is that we’ve got to work with the Chinese,” Kiriakou noted. “Even Donald Trump understands that.”
More unnerving is what appears to be the budding relationship between Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who is accused of allowing the extrajudicial murder of thousands of his people in the course of a vicious war on drugs.
The US commander-in-chief called it a “great relationship,” but Kiriakou says it’s “not healthy.”
“[The] relationship is not a healthy one,” he warned. “We know already that Donald Trump is attracted to strong men, he’s attracted to people who exhibit these sort of authoritarian or even fascist tendencies.”
The Philippines ranked fifth on this year’s “Impunity Index” by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a yearly ranking of nations in which journalists are slain and their killers tend to go free. Trump is frequent critic of the US media.
Later labelling Duterte the “poster boy for populist fascism or populist authoritarianism,” Kiriakou noted that on a “weird, unhealthy personal level, there is this mutual admiration between Trump and Duterte.”
The feeling might be mutual: “You are the light in my world, a half of this heart of mine,” Duterte sang to Trump in a bizarre serenade during the ASEAN gala that was part of the US president’s tour.
However, relationships that start off hot and heavy can collapse just as quickly. Nodding to the yearly congressionally mandated human rights report published by the US State Department, Kiriakou says that time and Congress may shape how the Trump administration will handle its stance toward Duterte in the future.
“I’m going to be anxious to see, come March  when the report will be released for 2017, what exactly the Trump White House is going to allow the State Department to say about the Philippines and Duterte,” Kiriakou told hosts Puryear and Blackmon.