The “Salute to America” extravaganza on the National Mall this July 4th is poised to be one of the gaudiest, most over-the-top displays of jingoism in American history. President Trump wouldn’t have it any other way. According to the Washington Post, Trump has “demonstrated an unusual level of interest” in Thursday’s event, receiving regular briefings about it from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. Just as with his proposed border wall, the president has advised on just about every aspect of the event’s aesthetics, which, if he gets his wish, will feature “tanks or other armored military vehicles” stationed around the National Mall.
This isn’t the first time Trump has wanted to use tanks to drum up patriotism. After attending a Bastille Day event in Paris in 2017, Trump became enamored with the idea of staging a military parade. The president wanted heavily armored military vehicles to roll down the streets of Washington, but the Pentagon denied the request because of the damage they would do the city’s infrastructure. A few months later, the entire event was canceled amid ballooning costs. Trump blamed local politicians.
It’s unclear how much the “Salute to America” celebration will cost taxpayers, and the Department of the Interior declined a request from the Post to comment on the cost of the event. Whatever the price tag, it will come at the expense of America’s national parks, which are already severely underfunded.
A fleet of tanks dotting the site where Trump delivered his inaugural address over two years ago wouldn’t be the only extravagance of the president’s 4th of July bash. The event will feature a military flyover, as well as a 35-minute fireworks display. According to the Post, the pyrotechnics show will render an American flag and the letters “U.S.A.” across the sky. Trump will also deliver an address, one in which he is likely to target Democrats as the principal threat to whatever the “Salute to America” is meant to represent.
The celebration will come just days after Trump shook hands with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, another world leader known for staging elaborate military parades to reinforce the loyalty of his people. The meeting, which came after Trump tweeted that he’d like to greet the dictator at the DMZ, the demilitarized zone separating North Korea from South Korea, was the final leg of the triple crown of praising dictators Trump completed during his trip overseas for the G-20 summit in Japan. While there, Trump joked about election interference with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, calling him a “great guy,” and spoke of what an “honor” it was to meet with his “friend,” Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
On Sunday, Politico reported that the Pentagon recently published an assessment finding that Russia is taking advantage of the U.S. in order to execute a plan for global dominance. Meanwhile, investigations by the United Nations and U.S. intelligence concluded that bin Salman ordered the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October. Trump again refuted this intelligence after the meeting in Japan. “There are large numbers of people being prosecuted. He’s very angry about it, he’s very unhappy about it,” Trump said of bin Salman regarding Khashoggi’s death. “I did mention it to him very strongly, and he answered very strongly.”
No one, however, is working Trump over quite like Kim Jong-un, who scored another massive propaganda victory by convincing Trump to cross the DMZ and enter North Korea, becoming the first sitting president to do so.
And here it is: Kim Jong Un’s propaganda victory, in full color across the first three pages of Rodong Sinmun. Look at the smiles. pic.twitter.com/2tfvnUzlUs
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) July 1, 2019
“Leaving South Korea after a wonderful meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un,” the president tweeted on Sunday. “Stood on the soil of North Korea, an important statement for all, and a great honor!”
Since Trump first met with Kim last June and subsequently declared there was “no longer” a nuclear threat from the nation, North Korea has actually increased its nuclear capabilities. This hasn’t impacted the “chemistry” Trump feels with Kim. When the met at the DMZ over the weekend, Trump invited him to the White House.