October 23, 2016

Robert Parry: Washington’s New Lock-Step March of Folly, October 22, 2016

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking at an Atlantic Council event in 2013. (Photo credit: Atlantic Council)

Exclusive: Confident in a Hillary Clinton victory, Washington’s foreign policy elite is readying plans for more warfare in Syria and more confrontations with nuclear-armed Russia, an across-the-spectrum “group think” that risks life on the planet, says Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
As polls show Hillary Clinton closing in on victory, Official Washington’s neoconservative (and liberal-hawk) foreign policy establishment is rubbing its hands in anticipation of more war and more strife, including a U.S. military escalation in Syria, a take-down of Iran, and a showdown with nuclear-armed Russia.

What is perhaps most alarming about this new “group think” is that there doesn’t appear to be any significant resistance to the expectation that President Hillary Clinton will unleash these neocon/liberal-hawk forces of intervention that President Barack Obama has somewhat restrained.

Assuming Donald Trump’s defeat – increasingly seen as a foregone conclusion – the Republican leadership would mostly be in sync with Clinton if she adopts a hawkish foreign policy similar to what was pursued by President George W. Bush. 

Meanwhile, most Democrats would be hesitant to challenge their party’s new president.
The only potential option to constrain the hawkish Clinton would be the emergence of a “peace” wing of the Democratic Party, possibly aligned with Republican anti-interventionists. But that possibility remains problematic especially since those two political elements have major policy disagreements on a wide variety of other topics.
There also isn’t an obvious individual for the peace factions to organize around. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who mildly criticized Clinton’s advocacy of “regime change” operations during the primary campaign, is 75 years old and isn’t particularly known for his stands on foreign policy issues.

If Trump loses, the bombastic real-estate mogul would likely be a spent political force, possibly retreating into the paranoid “alt-right” world of conspiracy theories. Even now, his dovish objection to confronting Russia has been undermined by his tendency to speak carelessly about other national security topics, such as torture, terrorism and nuclear weapons.

One potential leader of a peace movement would be Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, a 35-year-old military veteran who is one of the few members of Congress to offer an insightful and courageous critique of the dangers from an interventionist foreign policy. But Gabbard would be putting her promising political career at risk if she challenged a sitting Democratic president, especially early in Clinton’s White House term.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii is one of the very few members of Congress to offer an insightful and courageous critique of the dangers from an interventionist foreign policy

Yet, without a modern-day Eugene McCarthy (the anti-Vietnam War Democrat who took on President Lyndon Johnson in 1968) to rally an anti-war movement from inside the Democratic Party, it is hard to imagine how significant political pressure could be put on a President Hillary Clinton. Virtually the entire mainstream U.S. media (and much of the progressive media) are onboard for a U.S. “regime change” operation in Syria and for getting tough with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Not Thought Through

These “group thinks” on Syria and Russia, like previous ones on Iraq and Libya, have not been thought through, but are driven instead by emotional appeals – photos of wounded children in Syria and animosity toward Putin for not wearing a shirt and not bowing to U.S. global supremacy. As with Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, there is little consideration about what might follow a successful “regime change” scenario in Syria or Russia.

In Syria, a “no-fly zone” destroying Syria’s air force and air defenses could pave the way for a victory by Al Qaeda’s recently renamed Nusra Front and/or Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State. How letting major terrorist groups control Damascus would be good for either the Syrian people or the United States gets barely mentioned.
The dreamy thinking is that somehow the hard-to-find “moderate” rebels – sometimes called the “unicorns” – would prevail, even though they have existed mostly as cut-outs and conduits so Al Qaeda and its allies can secure advanced U.S. weapons to use for killing Syrian soldiers.

Yet, even more dangerous is the already-launched destabilization campaign against nuclear-armed Russia, a policy that may feel-good because we’re taught to despise Vladimir Putin. But this latest neocon/liberal-hawk “regime change” scheme — even if it somehow were “successful” — is not likely to install in the Kremlin one of the U.S.-favored “liberals” who would allow the resumption of the 1990s-era plundering of Russia’s wealth.
Far more likely, an angry Russian population would go for a much-harder-line nationalist than Putin, someone who might see nuclear weapons as the only way to protect Mother Russia from another raping by the West. It’s not the cold-blooded Putin who should scare Americans, but the hot-headed guy next in line.

But none of these downsides – not even the existential downside of nuclear annihilation – is allowed to be discussed among Official Washington’s foreign policy elites. It’s all about giving Bashar al-Assad the “Gaddafi treatment” in Syria, punishing Iran even if that might cause its leaders to renounce the nuclear-arms agreement, and muscling NATO forces up to Russia’s borders and making the Russian economy scream.
And, behind these policies are some of the most skilled propagandists in the world. They are playing much of the U.S. population – and surely the U.S. media – like a fiddle.

Lock-Step Consensus

The propaganda campaign is driven by a consensus among the major think tanks of Official Washington, where there is near universal support for Hillary Clinton, not because they all particularly like her, but because she has signaled a return to neocon/liberal-hawk strategies.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaking at an Atlantic Council event.

As Greg Jaffe wrote for the neocon-dominated Washington Post on Friday, “In the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama’s departure from the White House — and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton — is being met with quiet relief.
“The Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy, via a flurry of reports shaped by officials who are likely to play senior roles in a potential Clinton White House.
“It is not unusual for Washington’s establishment to launch major studies in the final months of an administration to correct the perceived mistakes of a president or influence his successor. But the bipartisan nature of the recent recommendations, coming at a time when the country has never been more polarized, reflects a remarkable consensus among the foreign policy elite.
“This consensus is driven by a broad-based backlash against a president who has repeatedly stressed the dangers of overreach and the need for restraint, especially in the Middle East. … Taken together, the studies and reports call for more-aggressive American action to constrain Iran, rein in the chaos in the Middle East and check Russia in Europe.”

One of the lead organizations revving up these military adventures and also counting on a big boost in military spending under President Clinton is the Atlantic Council, a think tank associated with NATO that has been pushing for a major confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.

Jaffe quotes former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is leading the Atlantic Council’s bipartisan Mideast team as saying about Syria: “The immediate thing is to do something to alleviate the horrors that are being visited on the population. … We do think there needs to be more American action — not ground forces but some additional help in terms of the military aspect.” (This is same “humanitarian” Albright who – in responding to a United Nations report that U.S. economic sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s had killed a half million Iraqi children – coldly said, “we think the price is worth it.”)
One of Albright’s partners on the Atlantic Council’s report, Bush’s last National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, added that if Assad continues to bomb civilians, the United States should strongly consider “using standoff weapons, like cruise missiles, to neutralize his air force so that he cannot fly.”
The plans call for “safe zones” where Syrian rebels can base themselves behind U.S. military protection, allowing them to strike Syrian government forces but preventing the Syrian government from striking back. Little attention is paid to the fact that the so-called “moderate” rebels have refused to separate themselves from Al Qaeda’s forces who are in command of the rebel movement in east Aleppo and other urban areas.

As journalist/historian Gareth Porter has written: “Information from a wide range of sources, including some of those the United States has been explicitly supporting, makes it clear that every armed anti-Assad organization unit in those provinces [of Idlib and Aleppo] is engaged in a military structure controlled by [Al Qaeda’s] Nusra militants. All of these rebel groups fight alongside the Nusra Front and coordinate their military activities with it. …
“At least since 2014 the Obama administration has armed a number of Syrian rebel groups even though it knew the groups were coordinating closely with the Nusra Front, which was simultaneously getting arms from Turkey and Qatar.”

Ignoring the Masses

It also doesn’t seem to matter to these elites that many American commoners are fed up with these costly and bloody “regime change” schemes. As Hadley told the Post’s Jaffe, “Everyone has kind of given up on the Middle East. We have been at it for 15 years, and a lot of Americans think it is hopeless. … We think it is not.”

Former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley speaking before the Atlantic Council.

But it is not just the Republican neocons and old Democratic hawks who are determined to whip the American people into line behind more war. As Jaffe wrote, “A similar sentiment animates the left-leaning Center for American Progress’s report, which calls for more military action to counter Iranian aggression, more dialogue with the United States’ Arab allies and more support for economic and human rights reform in the region.”

These “liberal hawks” are enthused that now almost the entire foreign policy elite of Official Washington is singing from the same sheet of martial music. There is none of the discord that surrounded Bush’s war in Iraq last decade.

As Brian Katulis, a senior Middle East analyst at the Center for American Progress, said, “The dynamic is totally different from what I saw a decade ago.” He added that the current focus from all sides is on rebuilding a more muscular and more “centrist internationalism.”
In other words, the Iraq War “group think” that enveloped Official Washington before that catastrophe wasn’t total enough. Now, there is almost a totalitarian feel about the way the foreign policy elites, coordinating with the major U.S. news media, are marching the American people toward possibly even worse disasters.
No serious dissent is allowed; no contrarian thoughts expressed; no thinking through where the schemes might end up – unless you want to be marginalized as an Assad “apologist” or a Putin “puppet.” And right now, there doesn’t seem to be any practical way to stop this new march of folly.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. His latest book is, America’s Stolen Narrative

The Fight Against the Private Prison Industry Was Just Dealt a Huge Blow, The Obama administration renews a major contract with Corrections Corporation of America. Oct 19 2016

The Fight Against the Private Prison Industry Was Just Dealt a Huge Blow
The Obama administration renews a major contract with Corrections Corporation of America.
SAMANTHA MICHAELS in Mother Jones OCT. 19, 2016

A DHS official at the South Texas Family Residential Center 

The Department of Homeland Security has renewed a much-criticized contractwith the Corrections Corporation of America, one of the country's biggest prison companies, to continue running a family immigrant detention center in Texas.
The decision comes months after the Justice Department announced it would stop contracting with private prison companies because of concerns over the security and safety of their facilities. In August, DHS's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) said it would also review its contracts with private prison operators.
The renewed contract at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, which holds a majority of the country's immigrant mother and child detainees, will run through 2021, the Tennessean reports. The Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, which announced the deal on Monday, has agreed to reduce costs at the 2,400-bed facility by 40 percent, mostly through reductions in staff.
That could be bad news for immigrants who have complained in the past of an understaffed medical clinic and widespread illness among child detainees. Mothers at the Dilley facility have said it's not right to hold them and their kids in prison-like conditions, especially after they escaped gang violence and other trauma in their home countries. Understaffing at another CCA-run prison, in Louisiana, coincided with high rates of assault, a Mother Jones investigation found.
The South Texas Family Residential Center opened in 2014 as the Obama administration was attempting to deal with a surge of Central American families at the border. DHS struck an unusual deal with CCA to run the facility, according to an August Washington Post investigation, which found that the department had skipped the standard bidding process and agreed to pay CCA the same rate regardless of how many beds were actually occupied in the facility.

"It's costly to taxpayers and achieves almost nothing, other than trauma to already traumatized individuals."

That's been lucrative for CCA, which earned 14 percent of its total 2015 revenue from the South Texas Family Residential Center, but highly criticized by immigrant rights activists. "For the most part, what I see is a very expensive incarceration scheme," Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) told the Post. "It's costly to taxpayers and achieves almost nothing, other than trauma to already traumatized individuals."
DHS immigration officials are currently reviewing contracts with seven other CCA-run detention facilities across the country. "We think…they'll come to the same conclusion that we've been a really, really good tool for ICE," CEO Damon Hiningersaid in a conference call on Tuesday, referring to the DHS agency. He added that it would be expensive for the government to end its contracts with CCA. "Building, staffing and operating new facilities to replace all the capacity currently provided by the private sector would cost ICE billions of dollars and result in costly long-term obligations."
CCA shares climbed on Monday after the company announced the renewed contract in Texas. The announcement "removed some uncertainty" about CCA's relationship with the Obama administration, financial analysts noted. Stocks for private prison companies, including CCA, had been falling for months after the Justice Department announced it would end their use.

For more on CCA, check out MoJo senior reporter Shane Bauer's report about his four months as a prison guard for the company.

Hillary’s Syria policy: About the Democratic nominee’s war plans

Hillary’s Syria policy
NOW asks a Syrian activist who has met Clinton and her former Syria adviser at Foggy Bottom about the Democratic nominee’s plans, ALEX ROWELL 1/08/2016 

Earlier this year, a small group of Syrian-American political activists affiliated with the opposition to Bashar al-Assad’s regime met privately in Washington, D.C., with Hillary Clinton. The purpose of the meeting was, perhaps unsurprisingly, to discuss the ongoing war in Syria, as well as explore ways a future American administration – such as the one Clinton hopes to lead starting in January 2017 – might act to shape events in the devastated country in ways more agreeable to the opposition than the course taken by the incumbent president.

Though it had by then been three years since Secretary of State Clinton had worked in any official capacity on Syria policy, she’d evidently kept a close eye on developments in the interim. An attendee at the meeting recalls her as deeply knowledgeable of even granular details of the situation on the ground. More significantly, she was also highly receptive to the activists’ view that more palpable, concrete steps to counter the violence meted out by Assad and his allies were required from the United States.

“I was very impressed with how attuned she was to every detail of the situation,” said Kenan Rahmani, a Washington-based law student and member of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, who has traveled extensively through opposition-held territory in Syria since the outbreak of the conflict.

“She knew about Russian attacks on hospitals in Aleppo. She knew about the siege in Madaya (before it had become a major news story). She was familiar with the players in the newer iterations of the Syrian opposition,” Rahmani told NOW in an email.

It was an encounter that would leave a lasting imprint on Rahmani, who is now supporting Clinton’s presidential bid. On the campaign trail, Clinton has notably made a more forceful approach in Syria part of her foreign policy platform, pledging in November 2015 to “retool and ramp up our efforts to support and equip viable Syrian opposition units” and even “impose no-fly zones” over northern Syria “that will stop Assad from slaughtering civilians and the opposition from the air.” Nor were these mere one-off remarks, later to be retracted or forgotten: in April this year, challenged by dovish rival Bernie Sanders in a live debate to defend her no-fly zone suggestion, Clinton stood her ground. “Yes, I do still support a no-fly zone because I think we need to put in safe havens for those poor Syrians who are fleeing both Assad and ISIS and so they have some place they can be safe […] Nobody stood up to Assad and removed him, and we have had a far greater disaster in Syria than we are currently dealing with right now in Libya,” said the candidate confirmed Tuesday as the official Democratic Party nominee.

What gets said on the trail and what ends up happening in the Oval Office are, of course, often different things (see Obama’s pledge to close Guantánamo Bay). Yet Rahmani, for one, doesn’t believe Clinton’s no-fly zone talk is empty posturing.

“Hillary Clinton and her advisers have been very clear--in public, not just in private--that they believe a no-fly zone is a humanitarian imperative,” he told NOW. “The aerial bombardment by the Assad regime is the primary tool of death and destruction in Syria. Hillary Clinton understands that the refugee crisis destabilizing the region and Europe can only be dealt with by addressing the main threat driving the refugees to flee.”

Asked about her proposal to “retool and ramp up” military support to the opposition – which at least one Clinton acquaintance, the journalist and author Mark Landler, suggests may include the provision of MANPADS anti-aircraft missiles – Rahmani said, “It's not clear exactly what measures [she] might take,” but she “would not rule out any options that may help to advance the overall policy.” In general, he told NOW, “I predict that she would be less reluctant than President Obama to explore more coercive measures to end the conflict.”

That’s a sentiment shared by others who have seen Clinton’s thinking on Syria up close. Frederic Hof was Secretary Clinton’s Special Adviser on Syria at the State Department until his resignation in September 2012. While he declines to wager on the specifics of a hypothetical President Clinton’s Syria policy, Hof does believe his former boss – the daughter of a naval officer, who herself applied unsuccessfully to join the Marines in the 1970s – has fewer personal or ideological misgivings than Obama in general about the idea of employing military force when deemed advantageous.

“I think President Obama has convinced himself that what happened in terms of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq beginning in 2003 suggests that any attempt by the United States to push back militarily in Syria, to exact some kind of a price [from] Bashar al-Assad will inevitably result in catastrophe – invasion, occupation, the whole thing,” Hof, now director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, told NOW.

I don’t think Secretary Clinton as president would be imprisoned by that particular belief.”

Clinton would also differ from Obama, Hof expects, in her perspective vis-à-vis the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran; a milestone of Obama’s legacy that critics argue has made the president wary of opposing Tehran’s regional ambitions, in Syria above all.

“I think the president is concerned that a more resolute pushback against Bashar al-Assad, particularly in the area of civilian protection, could somehow alienate the key leaders in Iran, starting with the Supreme Leader, and inspire Iran to walk away from the nuclear agreement,” said Hof. “I don’t think that Secretary Clinton as president would be constrained in that way. It’s just my sense that she understands the United States can do two things at once, and that there are elements of the nuclear agreement that are obviously very attractive to Iran, and the possibility of Iran just picking up and walking away [is] probably relatively small.”

Moreover, Clinton and Obama are polar opposites in terms of their regard for traditional foreign policy advisers, according to both Hof and Rahmani. While Obama is famously derisive of Washington’s foreign policy coterie (“the Blob” in the phrasing of Ben Rhodes, one of very few aides to have the president’s ear), Clinton’s campaign has already amassed a large team of advisers; “a tremendous foreign policy operation, almost like an actual government,” according to Rahmani. At the top of that operation sit Jake Sullivan and Laura Rosenberger, whom Rahmani describes as “both very involved in tracking developments in Syria.” Others include Center for a New American Security CEO Michèle Flournoy, tipped to be Clinton’s defense secretary, who has advocated using greater military “coercion” against the Assad regime; and Brookings Institution Center for Middle East Policy Director Tamara Cofman Wittes, who deridedObama’s Syria policy in testimony to Congress in May as “a signal failure to learn the lessons of the post-Cold War period.”

Then, of course, there is Tim Kaine, the Virginia senator unveiled Friday as Clinton’s running mate. A member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, Kaine voted in the wake of the August 2013 chemical weapons attacks in Damascus to launch punitive strikes against the Assad regime, and in 2015 wrote to the president urging “the rapid establishment of one or more humanitarian safe zones” in Syria to “provide essential protection for displaced Syrian civilians and a safe transit route for desperately needed humanitarian supplies.”

A relatively low-key character who once described himself as “the most boring man in politics,” Kaine’s nomination as potential vice president was nevertheless met with excitement in Syrian opposition circles. Asked whether it gave him further confidence in Clinton’s resolve to see her Syria pledges through, Rahmani was unequivocal.

“Yes, definitely.”

October 22, 2016

The Fact That 17 Intelligence Agencies Confirmed Russia is Behind the Email Hacks Isn’t Actually…a Fact, 20 Oct 2016 by Mark Jeftovic

The Fact That 17 Intelligence Agencies Confirmed Russia is Behind the Email Hacks Isn’t Actually…a Fact,  20 Oct 2016

Briefly, because I’m trying to get some work done instead expending energy on this horrific, disgusting election cycle…
In last night’s debate Clinton stated that “17 intelligence agencies have confirmed that Russia is behind the email hacks” which were then turned over to Wikileaks.
Nevermind that the mainstream media and the elites are very selective about when to condemn hacked document dumps. 

As I wrote yesterday before the debate:
It is interesting to note the difference in the treatment of email dumps based on whether it criticizes or supports the Establishment.

In the Panama Papers, hacked emails revealed mass tax avoidance schemes executed primarily by non-insulated political outsiders. Obama deemed it “important stuff” and called for international tax reform in the wake of the revelations contained therein.

But when the Podesta emails reveal ongoing, systemic, baked-in wrong-doing on the part of anointed political favourites, the bogeyman of “Russian state-sponsored hackers” is trotted out, hell-bent on throwing the election and Obama (as per the aforementioned quote) starts talking about “folks needing some kinda Ministry of Truthiness”.

As I also covered yesterday, Glenn Greenwald exhaustively back-traced where the ‘Russia-hacked-the-election’ meme came from and that it was pure spin. The original author who set the entire farce in motion later admitted it was all a mistake, and in his own ‘Mea Culpa’ revealed that according to the subtext of extensive emails from a Newsweek reporter pressuring him to allow the lie to live, it was US intelligence agencies pushing to spread this narrative. (NSA whistleblower William Binney said the hack itself was the act of a disgruntled employee within a US intelligence agency).

The “17 agencies that actually confirmed” it was the Russians? Well it turns out that was one guy, namely DCI James Clapper: the head of US intelligence. The same man who committed perjury before congress after his NSA surveillance program was leaked.  
He  issued a statement that included the phrase:
We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.

The very next sentence is also of interest:
Some states have also recently seen scanning and probing of their election-related systems, which in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company. However, we are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government.
The word “confirmed” does not appear anywhere in this statement.
So when HRC stated the “17 intelligence agencies have confirmed” I was anticipating what that would turn up in the “fact checking” apparatus, which allegedly exists to objectively test the assertions of both candidates in real time.
The “fact checking” around this statement would be comical if not infuriatingly Orwellian: ABC called it “a true fact”

The New York Times fact check on this debate, at first glance would lead one to believe all the lies and misdirection to be coming from one side of the the podiums, Trump’s. But they did not even touch Clinton’s “17 intelligence agencies have confirmed” statement, instead they took an accusation by Clinton, levelled at Trump, dressed it up as a “fact” (by it’s inclusion in the NYT’s edition of the “Debate Fact Checks”), presumably “fact checked” it and then ceremoniously blessed it as “True”:

Again, the media narrative around all this is now completely oblivious to the actual content of those leaks. Including that the Democrats staged anti-Trump rallies which has since been corroborated by the fact that Dems employed paid agents provocateurs at Trump rallies to incite violence.

The media gave a previous administration a free pass when they started a war in Iraq based on a lie (one that was also presumably “confirmed” by intelligence agencies). Now they are full-on complicit in this one as the USgears up for a cyberwar with Russia over another lie.

October 20, 2016

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte aligns Philippines with China, says U.S. has lost

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony held in Beijing, China October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Ng Han Guan/Pool

By Ben Blanchard | BEIJING  

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his "separation" from the United States on Thursday, declaring he had realigned with China as the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks.
Duterte made his comments in Beijing, where he is visiting with at least 200 business people to pave the way for what he calls a new commercial alliance as relations with longtime ally Washington deteriorate.

"In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States," Duterte told Chinese and Philippine business people, to applause, at a forum in the Great Hall of the People attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
"Both in military, not maybe social, but economics also. America has lost."

Duterte's efforts to engage China, months after a tribunal in the Hague ruled that Beijing did not have historic rights to the South China Sea in a case brought by the previous administration in Manila, marks a reversal in foreign policy since the 71-year-old former mayor took office on June 30.
His trade secretary, Ramon Lopez, said $13.5 billion in deals would be signed during the China trip.

"I've realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world - China, Philippines and Russia. It's the only way," Duterte told his Beijing audience.

Duterte's remarks will prompt fresh concern in the United States, where the Obama administration has seen Manila as a key ally in its "rebalance" of resources to Asia in the face of a rising China.
The administration agreed a deal with Duterte's predecessor granting U.S. forces rotational access to bases in the Philippines and further doubts will be raised about the future of this arrangement.
However, a White House spokesman stressed the traditional bonds between Washington and Manila when asked about Duterte's comments and stuck to a U.S. approach of seeking to play down the Philippine leader's repeated attacks.

"The U.S.-Philippines alliance is built on a 70-year history, rich people-to-people ties, including a vibrant Filipino-American diaspora, and a long list of shared security interests," spokesman Ned Price said.
"We also remain one of the Philippines' strongest economic partners; the current stock of U.S. foreign direct investment stands above $4.7 billion."
A few hours after Duterte's speech, his top economic policymakers released a statement saying that, while Asian economic integration was "long overdue", that did not mean the Philippines was turning its back on the West.

"We will maintain relations with the West but we desire stronger integration with our neighbors," said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia in a joint statement. "We share the culture and a better understanding with our region."


China has pulled out all the stops to welcome Duterte, including a marching band complete with baton-twirling band master at his official greeting ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People, which is not extended to most leaders.
President Xi Jinping, meeting Duterte earlier in the day, called the visit a "milestone" in ties.
Xi told Duterte that China and the Philippines were brothers and they could "appropriately handle disputes", though he did not mention the South China Sea in remarks made in front of reporters.
"I hope we can follow the wishes of the people and use this visit as an opportunity to push China-Philippines relations back on a friendly footing and fully improve things," Xi said.
Following their meeting, during which Duterte said relations with China had entered a new "springtime", Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said the South China Sea issue was not the sum total of relations.
"The two sides agreed that they will do what they agreed five years ago, that is to pursue bilateral dialogue and consultation in seeking a proper settlement of the South China Sea issue," Liu said.
China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
In 2012, China seized the disputed Scarborough Shoal and denied Philippine fishermen access to its fishing grounds.
Liu said the shoal was not mentioned and he did not answer a question about whether Philippine fishermen would be allowed there. He said both countries had agreed on coastguard and fisheries cooperation, but did not give details.


Duterte's tone toward Beijing is in stark contrast to the language he has used against the United States, after being infuriated by U.S. criticism of his bloody war on drugs.
He has called U.S. President Barack Obama a "son of a bitch" and told his to "go to hell", while alluding to severing ties with the old colonial power.
On Wednesday, to the cheers of hundreds of Filipinos in Beijing, Duterte said Philippine foreign policy was veering toward China.
"I will not go to America anymore. We will just be insulted there," Duterte said. "So time to say goodbye my friend."
The same day, about 1,000 anti-U.S. protesters gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Manila calling for the removal of U.S. troops from the southern island of Mindanao.
Duterte's abrupt pivot from Washington to Beijing is unlikely to be universally popular at home, however. On Tuesday an opinion poll showed Filipinos still trust the United States far more than China.
Duterte on Wednesday said the South China Sea arbitration case would "take the back seat" during talks, and that he would wait for the Chinese to bring up the issue rather than doing so himself.
Xi said issues that could not be immediately be resolved should be set aside, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
China has welcomed the Philippines approaches, even as Duterte has vowed not to surrender any sovereignty to Beijing, which views the South China Sea Hague ruling as null and void.
China has also expressed support for his drug war, which has raised concern in Western capitals about extrajudicial killing.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Writing by Michael Martina and Ryan Woo; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alex Richardson)