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Brazilian Trump Knows Only Pissing Contests With Emmanuel Macron Can Stop Forest Fires
Maybe the rest of the world could just pay Brazil to leave the Amazon rain forest alone?
The Brazilian government may consider accepting $20 million in help from the Group of Seven nations for firefighting and reforestation in the Amazon, but first, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro wants French president Emmanuel Macron to apologize for saying mean things about him, NBC News reports.
Bolsonaro appeared offended by Macron's comments related to his handling of the unfolding crisis in the Amazon, and wanted them retracted.
"And then we can speak," he said, according to The Associated Press.
And that, kids, is why a region that produces roughly six percent of the world's oxygen*may or may not be getting international assistance to stop devastating wildfires, many of them set by farmers hoping to make some money following Bolsonaro's declaration that the rain forest should be sacrificed for agriculture. Can't get too worked up over a potential ecological disaster, because the real issue is the Brazilian president's sense of honor. As of this morning, Bolsonaro appears willing to accept the aid as long as there are no foreign strings attached, although it's unclear whether the G7 nations will go for that.
*Update: We earlier mentioned a much-cited but erroneous estimate that the Amazon is responsible for 20 percent of Earth's oxygen.The real science is more complicated.
You know, it's almost as if these temperamental nationalist assholes will take 20 different positions before finally deciding on one -- and then change again. Seems familiar somehow.
Bolsonaro's willingness to accept the aid at all -- if he gets an apology, or perhaps an agreement to meet on the field of honor with pistols at 20 paces -- is an improvement over Brazilian officials' initial response to the aid offer. On French TV Tuesday, Luís Fernando Serra, the Brazilian ambassador to France, rejected the funds because the G7 hadn't consulted Brazil on the aid, which meant it was "interference" in Brazil's own business. Bolsonaro's chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, went even stupider, because it's always possible to get even stupider. Lorenzoni said the money would be better spent reforesting Europe, and said that if Macron was worried about fires, then what about Notre Dame, hurr hurr?
Macron cannot even avoid a predictable fire in a church that is part of the world's heritage, and he wants to give us lessons for our country?
Lorenzoni also suggested that Macron's interest in the Amazon rain forest might reflect "colonialist and imperialist" objectives on Macron's part. We suppose he might have a point, if you consider "not wrecking the planetary oxygen cycle" or "making global warming worse" colonialist moves.
Bolsonaro has made similar claims, insisting that international aid to stop the fires and restore burned areas of the rain forest amounted to treating Brazil as "a colony or no man's land," and calling the calls to stop destroying the forest an attack on Brazil's sovereignty. On the up side, he appears to have dropped, for the moment, his evidence-free claim that nefarious NGOs had set the fires to make him look bad. Bolsonaro clearly perceives a political advantage in playing up the nationalist crap even as destruction of the rain forest would ultimately be bad for Brazil, whose own environment depends on a healthy Amazon ecosystem, as does the entire world. But by the time the damage is done, the profits will have been extracted, hooray.
On Monday, before Bolsonaro insisted on an apology, Macron had attempted to assuage those fears:
"We respect your sovereignty. It's your country," he said [...] But "the Amazon forest is a subject for the whole planet. We can help you reforest. We can find the means for your economic development that respects the natural balance. But we cannot allow you to destroy everything."
See? The mean colonialists are pushing plucky little Brazil around again.
The foofaraw between the two countries got even worse later Monday, when -- we are not making this up -- Bolsonaro enthusiastically agreed with a Facebook post that mocked Macron's wife and said she wasn't nearly as attractive as Bolsonaro's wife, so Macron was jealous . Macron called the comments "very disrespectful." What's next, Bolsonaro saying Macron's dad helped assassinate JFK?
As of a few hours ago, French TV network France 24 is reporting that Bolsonaro appears to have dropped the demand for an apology from Macron.
"The Brazilian government through President Bolsonaro is open to receiving financial support from organizations and even countries," Otavio Rego Barros told reporters in the capital Brasilia, without referring specifically to the G7's offer.
"The essential point is that this money, on entering Brazil, will be under the control of the Brazilian people."
The details remain to be worked out, and Crom only knows whether any substantial action will result from all the stupidity. Donald Trump has, of course, tweeted that Bolsonaro is handling the fires just fine, although at least Fire Marshal Donald didn't offer any advice on raking the rain forest. For all we know, Bolsonaro's next move will be to take the money and then use it to subsidize the farmers and ranchers behind the deforestation (a move he's already threatened with other international aid aimed at preserving the rain forest).
Hooray for nationalism!
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