Authoritarian Leaders Donald Trump Has Praised
President Donald Trump has made a habit out of expressing admiration for authoritarians.
To put it another way, the man is in the midst of several passionate bromances with a number of extremely sketchy dudes.
In the process, he's eroding America's credibility and moral standing.
The US does not have a perfect record on human rights -- far from it.
It's propped up dictators across the world, supported oppressive regimes (and still does) and committed terrible crimes both at home and abroad.
However, even when it's not always practicing what it preaches, people expect the US to be vocally critical of leaders who violate human rights and international norms.
Based on his behavior, Trump doesn't agree.
It's true he approved a military strike against the Assad regime in Syria, which is accused of war crimes, but we shouldn't be fooled into believing he's morphed into a bleeding humanitarian. (By the way, Trump also once praised Assad for "killing ISIS.")
You can't express your adoration for leaders who are arguably as bad as Assad, if not worse, and hold the moral high ground.
That's blatant hypocrisy, and it's a terrible look for the US.
None of this is normal.
Here are leaders with terrible records on an array of issues who Trump has praised.
Vladimir Putin, Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin has an abysmal record on human rights.
Meanwhile, people who criticize him tend to disappear or end up dead.
It's not exactly a secret at this point Trump admires Putin. He's made this clear on several occasions.
Putin's aggressive foreign policy decisions, which typically run counter to American interests, don't seem to bother Trump.
Trump has characterized Putin as a "smart" and strong leader, engaging in a long-distance bromance with him over the course of his presidential campaign and beyond.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has committed what Human Rights Watch describes as "flagrant rights abuses," including "torture, enforced disappearances, and likely extrajudicial executions."
He's arrested thousands of Egyptians and made his country a particularly bad place to be a journalist.
But Trump thinks Sisi is a "fantastic guy," and the two had a very friendly meeting in April.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is repressing free speech and arresting journalists.
In 2016, Turkey jailed more journalists than any other country.
Erdogan gained a number of powers in a recent referendum that led many to refer to him as a dictator and pushed Turkey in the complete opposite direction of democracy.
Trump, however, called Erdogan to congratulate him.
In the process, he essentially applauded the erosion of freedoms in Turkey.
Kim Jong Un, North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is notoriously repressive and violent.
He's reportedly executed officials with antiaircraft guns.
Richard Duterte, Philippines
Philippines' President Richard Duterte is spearheading a bloody campaign against drugs in which he's condoned the extrajudicial killing of drug dealers.
Duterte's drug war has killed over 7000 people.
He even claimed to have killed three criminals himself, which led to condemnation by the UN.
Trump, however, has praised his approach to drugs, reportedly telling Duterte he's "doing a great job."
Xi Jinping, China
China, an authoritarian state ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, has had an abysmal human rights record for decades.
Freedom of expression, association, assembly and religion are fiercely restricted.
President Xi Jinping has continued this tradition, and then some.
A US government report from October 2016 claims the country has become even more repressive since Xi Jinping came to power.
His leadership has had major consequences for civil society, media freedom, labor rights and judicial due process.
In spite of all this, Trump has referred to Xi Jinping as a "very good man."
Saddam Hussein, Iraq
Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, now dead, was a brutal dictator who committed numerous atrocities, frequently used torture and executed political opponents.
Trump acknowledged Hussein was a "bad guy" but praised his efficient killing of terrorists.
He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn't read them the rights. They didn't talk. They were terrorists. Over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism.
There is evidence of over 250 mass graves linked to the reign of Hussein. But Trump still felt the need to compliment how good he was at killing.