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The Little Man From the Draft Board

The New York Times reports that Rodrigo Duterte is too busy to go to the White House.

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said on Monday that he might not accept President Trump’s invitation to visit the White House, because he was “tied up” with a busy schedule. “I cannot make any definite promise,” Mr. Duterte said, adding, “I’m supposed to go to Russia; I’m also supposed to go to Israel.” ...

White House officials said Mr. Trump had called Mr. Duterte in an effort to mend their countries’ recently strained relationship, as a bulwark against China’s expansionism in the South China Sea. Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, said Mr. Trump also wanted to build a united front in Asia in opposition to North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear and missile technology.

A less charitable explanation for Duterte's overflowing calendar is he's running from the awkward question: who's side are you on? There's no good answer to that question without riling either Captain America or the Mandarin. Duterte, who earlier hitched his wagon to Beijing's star after calculating that Washington was on the permanent decline is now facing a newly assertive US policy.

He should have heeded Tolkien's advice about the dangers of getting in over one's head. “Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger”.  This is especially true when wizards have flying Nazgul and Watchers in the Pond, when Duterte does not. But it may be too late for such regrets now.  As tensions rise in the Pacific it will be harder to be unavailable.

Nobody trusts somebody who's put himself up for sale, even the ones who bought him.  Just wait till the Mandarin calls.

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