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Trump’s Strongman Weakness

Until this month, US President Donald Trump and his advisers had left the world guessing as to whether his admiration for authoritarian leaders would actually translate into US foreign policy. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson now seems to have put to rest any remaining questions about the administration’s stance on human rights.

NEW YORK – US President Donald Trump has made his affinity for authoritarian leaders abundantly clear.

When Trump entertained Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the White House in April, he praised the Egyptian military ruler for doing “a fantastic job.” And after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared a narrow victory in a referendum to approve a significant expansion of the presidency’s powers, Trump called to offer his congratulations.

Trump has also extended an invitation to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is presiding over a “war on drugs” that has so far resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings by the police. And he has continued to speak of Chinese President Xi Jinping in glowing terms, ever since the two met in April at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

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