President Donald Trump’s cozying up to dictators makes almost daily headlines. He seems comfortable with and anxious to please such strongmen as Vladimir Putin of Russia, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, and Kim Jong-un of North Korea. Rather than condemning their violence, he validates it—as he did violent neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia. He praised Republican Representative Greg Gianforte, who violently assaulted a Guardian reporter at a rally. In October 2018, the world was treated to photos of Trump embracing the Saudi ambassador and publicly accepting his explanation that “rogue killers” had broken into the Saudi embassy in Turkey and dismembered dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Under enormous pressure, Trump backed away from his outright support for the Saudi regime but defended his action with reference to a $100 million arms deal with the US. Like many Trump claims, the arms deal and the American jobs it would generate turned out to be fictitious. When his lies were exposed, Trump accused the media of being “enemies of the people”—a phrase taken out of the Soviet and Chinese communist playbooks.
President Donald Trump’s cozying up to dictators makes almost daily headlines.