Ever wondered what phone calls are like between heads of state? The Intercept has obtained the transcript of the phone conversation between Donald Trump and Philippine’s president Rodrigo Duterte. It is quite fascinating to read because it shatters the idea that conversations between heads of state are staid and serious exchanges. While they talked about serious affairs (drugs and North Korea), the tone of the discussion sounded like the low-level chatting of two slightly drunk fraternity guys just shooting the breeze about international affairs.
The chat was a love fest with Trump lavishly praising the murderous Duterte for the brutal way he is conducting the war on drugs, summarily killing suspected users and dealers. You can sense that Trump envies Duterte’s ability to simply murder people he deemed to be enemies of the state. Both of them also speculate about the mental state of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and express hope that China’s leader (who Trump speaks of warmly as “a good guy” whom he knows well) will take care of the problem, so that the US does not have to use its stock of nuclear weapons. Yes, really.
Incredibly, at the end Trump tells Duterte “if you are in DC or anywhere, come see me in the Oval Office”. It is the kind of thing regular people tell their friends at the end of a call but does Trump think that a head of state wanders around the world like a tourist and could just happen to visit DC and then decide to drop in at the White House?
I also wondered whether this was an authorized release of the transcript (highly unlikely) or a leak. The cover letter to the transcript suggests that it was prepared by the Philippine government and sent to the US, so the leak must be yet another one from this porous White House.