Monday, September 05, 2016

Lesser diplomacy

President Obama has cancelled his meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte which was supposed to be on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Laos later on Tuesday. It's been attributed to Duterte's apparent reference to him as a son-of-a-bitch. Thus as with the recent "HS Gavur" social media "outrage" one must dig a little into foreign language expletives to understand what was said. Duterte's departure news conference in Manila was indeed highly tendentious given that he was headed to a summit; he ranged across issues from the American treatment of Mexican migrants, to American extrajudicial killings, and American atrocities during its control of the Philippines.

And then that remark (for which so far only CNN Philippines seems to have a reliable account) --

Duterte also cautioned anyone in the Asean summit from bluntly asking him about the issue on alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. "You must be respectful. You must not just throw away questions. P*t*ng i*a, mumurahin kita dyan. [Son of a bitch, I'll curse you infront of everybody.] Tell that to everybody," Duterte said.

The remark was thus a little more indirect that being portrayed, but of course the broader context implied who the target was. Yet Obama may have been glad for an excuse to get out of the meeting, given its likely lack of productivity (even by summit standards).

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