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Trump Muted on Human Rights, Quick to Attack Person Who Chuckles During His Speech

Absent from public statements in Donald Trump’s Asia trip are calls for other nations to respect human rights, because, says the Administration, what’s the point?

President Trump’s 12-day trip to Asia has him schmoozing with some of the world’s worst human rights abusers. But unlike President Obama, who made a point of using his trips to regions with dodgy rights records to assert America’s moral soft power in the world, Trump has no intention of embarrassing his hosts or other regional leaders by insisting anyone hew to a specific line on human rights.

“How much does it help to yell about these problems,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told the press on Thursday. “What the president is doing is being effective” [Sarah Wildman, “‘America First’ Means Human Rights Last During Trump’s Visit to Asia,” Vox, 2017.11.08].

Yet Donald Trump finds it effective to yell at our foreign trade partners in a hardline speech to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit in Vietnam. He even demonstrates his thin-skinnedness by trying to attack someone who issued some minor reaction during his Vietnam speech:

“We lowered or ended tariffs, reduced trade barriers and allowed foreign goods to flow freely into our country,” he said. “But while we lowered market barriers, other countries didn’t open their markets to us.”

That remark elicited a barely audible reaction from someone in the audience, which Trump picked up on: “Funny,” the president remarked to scattered clapping. “They must have been one of the beneficiaries.”

In the manner of his campaign-style rallies, Trump pointed to the source of the disturbance: “What country do you come from sir?” but got no response and moved on with his speech [Scott Neuman, “Trump Talks Tough on Trade at Summit in Vietnam,” NPR: The Two-Way, 2017.11.10].

The Los Angeles Times characterizes the reactor in the audience as “an apparent heckler.” Another source characterizes the reaction as laughter.

Numerous instances of political and religious persecution across Southeast Asia, and Donald Trump remains silent. But chuckle at him when he’s reading his tough-guy teleprompter, and Donald Trump mouths off instantly. Such are the priorities of the man who is supposed to lead the free world.


  1. jerry 2017-11-11 09:34

    Did you get a look at trump and Putin in their blue silk jammies? Looked like they were on a prom date…guess they were. Now trump can say that he was in Vietnam, a little late, but those pesky bone spurs…

  2. Rorschach 2017-11-11 10:13

    Yeah, Donald “Bone Spurs” Trump is going to tell those Vietnamese what for. He’s gonna get tough with them like he didn’t do in 1969.

    President Obama lectured on human rights and spoke softly about trade agreements that may not have been the most favorable to us. President Trump lectures on trade issues and remains silent on human rights issues. I don’t know that there is any one formula that works in all situations. With Duterte in the Philippines President Obama was right about egregious human rights abuses, but the right answer probably isn’t to drive that important ally out of our sphere of influence and over to China. If our blunt object can get through to the Philippines’ blunt object and rebuild a deteriorating relationship it may serve our long-term interests long after both Duterte and Trump are gone.

    And I have to say it’s good to hear the message that our NATO allies aren’t paying their share for their own defense because they aren’t. President Obama agreed, but said very little publicly about it. And it’s good to hear tough talk on trade. It certainly plays well to American voters. And sometimes a good cop/bad cop routine gets the job done.

    Trump has voters figured out. It will benefit Democrats to observe him and emulate those things what work and are not inconsistent with our party positions. Tough talk on trade is one of those things. We won’t win the presidency back by focusing solely on social issues.

  3. jerry 2017-11-11 11:37

    How much more blood and treasure do you want NATO to spend on their response on the ground in Afghanistan? How many more American troops and contactors will still be in harms way in the Philippines to be blunt? I thought we were taught a lesson there during our first war as a colonial power.

    Regarding trade, just exactly how is that going? I am hearing that sucking noise of 30,000 jobs leaving General Electric and several thousand leaving Carrier, the same Carrier that Pence and trump tossed several million to in order for them not to move off shore.

    Good cop/bad cop? Follow the money to the corrupt cops.

  4. Donald Pay 2017-11-11 11:48

    I’ve been reading a lot of foreign policy books lately, and one thing they are in agreement on is that personal discussions between heads of state and show trips to foreign lands aren’t all that important one way or the other.

    What is important are the ability of foreign policy or trade policy experts and diplomats to put together policies that reduce friction, are mutually beneficial and increase mutual understanding. In this regard, Trump is an absolute failure. He’s hollowing out the State Department and failing to fill top levels with qualified people. He thinks, as he said, he “alone can fix it,” but he’s failing, and failing badly in every other area where he’s tried this approach. There is no reason to think the results won’t be the same in foreign policy. Not properly staffing and not heeding advise from the experts and diplomats is at best a disservice to our country and, at worst, could lead to a war.

  5. Rorschach 2017-11-11 12:08

    Donald Pay, I agree with your second paragraph, not with your first paragraph. Look at this photograph and compare US/Russia relations then and now and then tell me that good personal relationships between world leaders aren’t important:

    Your second paragraph is right about Trump. There is a lot of work that needs to take place behind the scenes that he’s not setting the stage to do. He may not see a need for a good cop to go with his bad cop routine.

  6. Roger Cornelius 2017-11-11 14:30


    Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has closed up shop and sent his staff home.
    Putin told Trump that he did not interfere with the 2016 election and Trump believes him. This should completely settle the matter.
    Only a traitor would believe Russia over the United States.

  7. Adam 2017-11-11 16:08

    How could an American President actually believe Vladimir Putin over his own FBI, CIA and every other U.S. intelligence agency?

    Trump surely doesn’t; he is just trying to cover up his collusion and Russian influence. He knows U.S. Intel is about to nail his ass to the cross, and since he’s totally cool with lying his ass off, he’s just going ahead and lying his ass off – again.

    Trump thinks human rights allow real estate developers to use eminent domain to build limousine parking lots.

  8. mike from iowa 2017-11-11 18:05

    That answer is fairly easy, Adam. Drumpf has wanted to make billions in Russia with his name on bldgs. He will never get that opportunity if he doesn’t kiss Putin’s arse over and over. That is all.

  9. mike from iowa 2017-11-11 18:30

    It saddens me to look at Drumpf and his swamp crawling cabinet and realize what cracking good crash test dummies they could have become. They could have helped advance America instead of their own interests. Sad.

  10. Roger Cornelius 2017-11-12 14:35

    Trump’s international golfing extravaganza will come to an end today just as it was begin, with no discussion of human rights and Putin meddling in the election dogging Trump along the way.
    Yesterday he said he believed Putin when he told him the truth that Russia did not meddle in our election and called his intel chiefs “political hacks”.
    After his intel chiefs distanced themselves from the Trump comment and publicly stated he was wrong Trump was forced to reverse course, again.
    Today we have Trump saying he believes that 17 intel chiefs are correct. He said no more about believing Putin.

  11. jerry 2017-11-12 15:15

    Look who we Americans are enlisting in our military, thanks trump/Rounds I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think we have more than fallen off the edge. Add PTSD on top of being mentally ill and you have got the same dude that shot up a Baptist Church down in Texas, say Hallelujah brothers and sisters, the undertakers are gonna be busy. Pretty difficult to prosecute human rights violations when your team is full of the mentally ill.

  12. bearcreekbat 2017-11-14 12:29

    Cory, recall when I said that Trump had adopted a wrestling “bad boy” persona? Chauncey DeVega interviews Director Rory Karpf about his new ESPN documentary covering Ric Flair. DeVega opens the article with:

    In many ways professional wrestling has conquered the world. Donald Trump is for all intents and purposes a professional wrestling villain (or “heel”) who lies and bullies people, is tacky, obnoxiously rich and proudly ignorant, berates women and is a racist demagogue who does everything possible to earn the ire of his enemies while drawing power from the audience’s boos.

    The interview spends a lot of words talking about how and why Trump tries to imitate Flair. I think you will find the parallels fascinating.

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