What Grows in Bloody Ground

Eighteen months after Rodrigo Duterte won the presidency in the Philippines, promising a historic peace in Mindanao and a historic end to the scourge of drugs, he presides over a fractured and divided country: in the south, a vicious war against an ISIS-linked rebel army left his forces bloodied and a city in ruins; in the cities, a wave of killings has led to a PR backlash against his administration. At the same time, he has been forced by expedience to backpedal on one of the key pillars of his foreign policy: a rejection of the Philippines old colonial masters in the United States.

On assignment for Rolling Stone and Mother Jones magazine, Saul G. Elbein tracks the aftermath of the drug and terror wars, both of which follow a similar theme: the attempt–as Duterte sees it–of a weak, divided country, caught between a rising China and a retreating United States, to find its way through the transnational, anti-state forces that threaten to tear it apart.