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Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro love saluting foreign leaders

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Donald Trump North Korea Jair Bolsonaro Brazil salute
Both
Donald Trump, left, and Jair Bolsonaro, far right, have offered
salutes when they probably didn’t have to.

Jason K. Morrell/Twitter; Anthony
Boadle/Twitter


  • President Donald Trump and Brazilian President-elect
    have both offered seemingly unnecessary salutes to foreign
    officials.
  • Trump and Bolsonaro have drawn comparisons for their
    incendiary rhetoric and political style.
  • Bolsonaro, a former army officer, has expressed
    affinity for Trump and support for more hardline security
    policies.

President Donald Trump and Brazilian President-elect Jair
Bolsonaro have drawn comparisons for their inflammatory rhetoric
and reputations as outsiders — Bolsonaro, a far-right
nationalist, has been called “Trump of the Tropics.”

On Thursday, Bolsonaro added another point of comparison with his
US counterpart.

At his home in Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro offered visiting US
National Security Advisor John Bolton a crisp salute before
leading him to an open-air meeting room and offering Bolton
coffee and refreshments, as Bolton exchanged greetings with
Bolsonaro’s advisers.

Bolsonaro, who takes office on January 1 and has said he wants to
align his policies with those of the Trump administration, said
afterward that he accepted an offer to visit
the US made by Bolton on Trump’s behalf.

Bolton, who has called Bolsonaro “like-minded,” said afterward he
Enjoyed a wide-ranging, very productive discussion” with
Bolsonaro and his national-security team and that he “look[ed]
forward to a dynamic partnership.”


Read more: Brazil’s new president has been
called the ‘Trump of the Tropics,’ but the White House says
there’s only one Trump

Bolsonaro was also mocked for his somewhat awkward greeting,
which was reminiscent of an interaction between Trump and a North
Korean general at a summit in Singapore in June.

In that encounter, featured in a documentary produced by North
Korean state media, Trump makes his way down a row of North
Korean officials shaking hands before reaching the country’s
defense chief, Gen. No Kwang Chol, who offered Trump a salute as
the US president stuck out his hand.

The two then reversed their gestures, with Trump returning a
salute, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looked on.


trump north korea salute
A
still from a video released by North Korea showing President
Donald Trump returning a salute from a North Korean
general.


Jason
K. Morrell/Twitter



Trump was disparaged for the
gesture, with critics citing the cruelty of the North Korean
regime as well as the fact that the US and North Korea are
technically still at war, as the Korean War between 1950 and 1953
ended with an armistice. (North and South Korea have been working
to reduce tensions in recent months.)

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended her boss, saying it
was “a common courtesy when a military official from
another government salutes, that you return that.”

Military members are required to salute the US president in
recognition of his status at the top of their chain of command,
but there is no regulation that requires the president to return
the salute. This tradition dates to President Ronald Reagan, and
which President Trump has since expanded to include members of
foreign militaries — even US adversaries.

Bolsonaro, who retired as an officer after 17 years in Brazilian
army, has expressed support for giving the military a broader
role in civil society — a stance that has raised concern about
rights abuses and the erosion of the rule of law.


Jair Bolsonaro Brazil John Bolton
Brazilian
President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, left, with US national-security
adviser John Bolton, in Rio de Janeiro, November 28,
2018.


John
Bolton/Twitter



After a successful presidential campaign in which former military leaders had an
active role
— including a running mate who retired as a
four-star general in February — Bolsonaro appears to be stocking
his Cabinet with former military leaders.

On Tuesday, he said he would appoint Tarcisio Freitas, a longtime
military engineer, as head of the infrastructure ministry.
Freitas was the sixth minister selected
who has a military background.


Read more: During a visit to Brazil, Mattis
gave a blunt warning about generals getting involved in
politics

Bolsonaro has said he wants former Brazilian Gen. Augusto Heleno
to be his top national security adviser. Heleno commanded UN
peacekeepers in Haiti, where in 2005 he led raid that ended
in a deadly seven-hour gun battle.

Other military officials tapped for the Cabinet have
connections to Haiti.


Brazil Rio de Janeiro police soldiers crime
Brazilian
soldiers frisk residents during an operation against drug dealers
in Cidade de Deus slum in Rio de Janeiro, February 7,
2018.

REUTERS/Ricardo
Moraes


Former Gen. Fernando Azevado e Silva, picked to be
defense minister, served there as Heleno’s operations chief.
Freitas was the senior UN military engineer there, arriving after
Heleno left in 2005.

Retired Gen. Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz, named as the
next government minister, also led UN peacekeepers in Haiti in
2007.


Read more: Here are the mysterious origins of
the modern military salute

Troops have already been deployed in
Brazil
to address rampant crime and insecurity. Connections
to Haiti among Bolsonaro’s advisers add to concerns about his
expressed support for militarized law
enforcement
.

“We are at war. Haiti was also at war,” Bolsonaro said in a
recent interview, according to Reuters. In
Haiti, he added, “the rule was, you found an element with a
firearm, you shoot, and then you see what happened. You solve the
problem.”

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