Donald Trump is on his way home after almost two weeks in Asia, where he learned a great deal about the region. Chief among his discoveries: The Philippines is strategically important to the American military.
As he told reporters aboard Air Force One as it winged its way across the Pacific:
“The Philippines is an unbelievably important military location because if you speak to the admirals and you speak to the generals, that's a perfect spot.”
Congratulations to the president on successfully summoning the ghost of Gen. Douglas MacArthur at some point recently. He continued:
“And, as you know, we had no relationship for a long period of time in the Philippines, and now we have a very good relationship there. We're back with the Philippines. So, strategically, we have a very important location — maybe the most important strategic location in that area. So it's good.”
Our relationship with the Philippines has been bad partly because its strongman president has been running roughshod over the human rights of many of his citizens in a way that might shame Dick Cheney. This put a major strain on his relationship with President Barack Obama.
Trump places less of a priority on respecting the legal rights of citizens and not engaging in extrajudicial murders of drug dealers. So, of course, Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, likes him more.
Trump had made a similar point in a press gaggle just before leaving the Philippines, in which he repeated a story about Obama traveling to that nation that is simply not true, and will never be true, no matter how many times he tells it:
“The relationship with the past administration was horrible, to use a nice word. I would say ”horrible“ is putting it mildly. You know what happened. Many of you were there, and you never got to land. The plane came close but it didn't land.”
Not true. Never been true. We have written about this.
Watch video of the president's comments below.