When America sneezes, the world catches a cold?
Not anymore, at least if you were to ask President Rodrigo Duterte, who would rather cover his face to protect himself and his fellow Filipinos from what in his view amounts to a virus that is supposedly being lugged around by US President Barack Obama.
Duterte on Monday seemed to be referring to the germ of colonialism of the American variety that had been stricken to oblivion by the bolos of Bonifacio and his fellow Filipino revolutionaries more than 100 years ago.
He must have felt he did not need anybody, not even the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet, to lecture him on how to run the government of the Philippines, not even on how to carry out a war on drugs that he had set his sights on early in the campaign for presidential elections that he won by a landslide.
“I am a President of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony,” Duterte said, and then more, before dropping his usual Filipino cuss word, to which this throng of reporters has gotten accustomed to hearing from him. They were at a pre-departure press briefing before he left for Laos for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting.
Obama had telegraphed the message (warning was more like it) that he planned to raise his concerns with Duterte in a bilateral meeting over the crackdown on illegal drugs in the country that had been reported to involve extrajudicial killings.
Well, the meeting was not going to happen, not after Duterte had dropped those words like a homemade bomb, for which shortly thereafter, however, he expressed regret for the after-effects.
“While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress, we also regret it came across as a personal attack on the US President,” a statement that he released said.
Obama canceled anyway, asking his people if “constructive, productive conversations” were still possible given Duterte’s tirade.
That he did showed that he was missing the forest for the trees, accustomed as he and probably past US Presidents were to talking down on sniveling, groveling Third World “democratic” and dictatorial leaders alike waiting for US military and economic crumbs to be thrown their way.
“Who is he to confront me [on the issue of human rights]? As a matter of fact, America has one too many to answer for,” Duterte had also said earlier, according to another report.
“Everybody has a terrible record of extrajudicial killings,” he added in the same report.
In the Philippines, it is on record that some American general with racial hatred in his heart turned Samar into a “howling wilderness,” so where does that leave the mighty United States of America?
Unlike Balkan leaders in recent memory who had been found to be guilty of genocide, none of the American forces who napalmed the Vietnamese countryside actually paid dearly for their perceived crimes against humanity.
Apparently rubbing it in but at the same time not particularly excited about the one-on-one, Duterte, when asked after arriving in the Laos capital of Vientiane whether the meeting with Obama would go ahead, replied, “Maybe, if I feel good. I don’t want to quarrel with him. He’s the most powerful President … on the planet.”
Incidentally, in one of the last acts of Obama’s so-called “pivot” to Asia, he is expected to announce greater help in clearing bombs dropped by US forces on Laos during the Vietnam War.
You can bet your bottom dollar that ordinary Laotians were among the, well, “collateral damage” of a war that the United States lost in an absolutely embarrassing way.