- US President Donald Trump observed France’s Bastille Day celebration in 2017. He wanted a similar event in the US, but critics were concerned about the cost — and parallels to military parades in totalitarian countries.
- Trump’s “Salute to America” took place on July 4, 2019, and featured flyovers from Air Force One, a B-2 stealth bomber and the Blue Angels.
- Here’s a look at how military parades in states led by strongmen compare to Trump’s July 4 event.
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US President Donald Trump’s military parade on July 4th came with significant criticism, about the cost of the festivities and the politicization of a civic holiday. Some critics even compared the event to similar parades in totalitarian countries.
Trump’s parade drained the fund that Washington, DC uses to provide security for federal events, according to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, and cost the Pentagon about $1.2 million. He was inspired by France’s Bastille Day celebration, which he attended as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron in 2017.
While the military firepower at Trump’s “Salute to America” may have been impressive — it included appearances from the Blue Angels and Air Force One — these military parades led by foreign dictators give it a run for its money.
Belarus’s Independence Day celebration in 2018 was a vibrant one.
Belarus is nominally a democracy, but its president, Alexander Lukashenko, has been in power since 1994.
Beijing celebrated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II with these camouflaged cruise missiles.
China’s President Xi Jinping has overseen the detention of ethnic Uighurs in prison camps, in addition to the religious persecution and press censorship typical of the Chinese state.
The limits to presidents serving only two terms were lifted in 2018, allowing Xi to remain in office for life.
Venezuela’s dictator Nicolas Maduro has overseen a dramatic humanitarian crisis in the country, but will not resign his post.
Maduro claimed victory in a 2018 election where he suppressed and jailed political opponents, an election result that remains disputed by opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
In the face of concern over US military intervention, Venezuela’s troops put on a show for the country’s Independence Day parade this year.
Trump’s parade was unfavorably compared to military parades in autocratic states like Russia.
Russian fighter jets practice for the Victory Day parade, in which Russia celebrates victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
Vladimir Putin is in his fourth term as Russia’s president, and has jailed political opponents and reduced press freedoms, and citizens have been harassed and beaten while observing elections.
North Korea places great importance on its military; its constitution says that military service is the duty and honor of citizens.
North Korea also takes the opportunity to show off its firepower.
Kim Jong Il choose his son Kim Jong Un to be his successor as supreme leader over two of his older sons.
Iran’s military marches before President Hassan Rouhani in 2017.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, oversees a theocratic regime that detains dissidents, restricts freedom of speech, and oppresses LGBT citizens.
The Saudi security forces climb a flaming structure during a military parade.
Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan rules over a country that is becoming increasingly less free. The Turkish government detains dissidents and threatens the press.
Erdogan has limited press freedom and opposition politicians have been jailed. After a failed coup, Erdogan narrowly won a referendum that expanded his legislative and judicial powers.