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How do you solve a problem like Duterte?

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte likened himself to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in a speech on Sept. 30 and said he would "be happy" to exterminate 3 million drug users and peddlers in the country.   © Reuters

The long-standing alliance between the U.S. and the Philippines has been upended by the rise of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. The country that was once a linchpin of U.S. President Barack Obama's "pivot to Asia" is now led by an authoritarian leader with a deep-seated grudge against the U.S.

Obama administration officials hope to focus on the many institutionalized areas of mutual interest that still exist with the Philippines, while not ignoring Duterte's disregard for human rights and threats to end military cooperation. For now, U.S. officials say Obama, who has been verbally attacked by Duterte, is trying to take the "long view." They note that senior Philippine officials loyal to the president regularly assure them that they do not agree with his verbal broadsides.

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