Trump Loves A Parade

Posted: March 4, 2018 by Brian Johnston

Last year while on his first visit to France as President, Donald Trump could hardly contain himself at the spectacle of Emmanuel Macron’s Bastille Day Parade—replete with military procession and armaments. He even said as much to Macron himself, “We’re going to have to try to top it.”

One could take such a statement many ways. On surface level, it could and should be considered a simple diplomatic gesture of gratitude and a tip of the hat to one of our most valued allies. After all, who goes to a party and doesn’t tell the host their event is wonderful and how grateful they are to be there? Sounds like simple courtesy.

But one gets the sense that this was not a statement of simple courtesy, especially when considering the source of the comment. This is the President that does everything BIGLY and YUUGE. So when he says that we’re going to have to try to top it, I tend to take him at his word.

Then there’s that whole ‘my nuclear button is bigger than his…and mine WORKS’ tweet. Sort of takes the whole nuclear brinksmanship thing and turns it into a bit of a dick measuring contest, right? To that end, the idea of parading our military and weaponry doesn’t sound like too much of a stretch to me. It sounds more like a natural progression of such a mindset. It also lends credence to those that think that Trump as a leader is modeling himself in the image of leaders he admires like Vladimir Putin. Parading the military through Red Square to project an image of power is a play directly out of the Russian playbook, though it should be noted that the May Day celebration was actually used to project strength where weakness actually lived.

While the populace inevitably draws comparisons of Trump’s planned parade to the kinds of parades we’re used to seeing in North Korea, perhaps the bigger issue that’s going mostly unnoticed is the idea that this sort of pageantry is a Cold War Era relic. To be sure the two times in most recent history when the US has put its military might on parade (less the much smaller ‘Mission Accomplished’ parade from the Bush era) occurred in 1949 and 1961, two of the most volatile points of the Cold War. Aside from these two moments, you’d be hard pressed to find instances when we’ve put our military on parade. Why is that?

One simple reason is cost. Just putting the military hardware in place to have such an event is a logistical challenge to say the least. It requires massive quantities of fuel, personnel, and planning just to get the pieces on the chessboard, so to speak. When we carry an $18 trillion dollar debt, how is it fiscally responsible, let alone Conservative, to spend tens of millions of dollars for a dog-and-pony show? And while one could expect such an idea from the mind of Trump, where is the rebuke from the GOP in Congress who are already facing an uphill battle in the midterm elections? In a nation where we routinely debate whether we will pay the bills that we’ve already accrued, the concept of a vanity parade seems counterproductive.

Another logistical problem inherent to the military parade is the fact that our military is already strapped for both cash and assets—something that Trump himself has stated repeatedly. These are MILITARY assets. Every time they are put on display for the public, those assets are not available for use by the branch of the military that actually OWNS them. Considering the fact that the US is actively fighting in no fewer than seven countries right this moment, the question of whether we have the equipment to spare begs asking.

Suggesting that our military is in need of public support or adulation is questionable. By all appearances, most Americans hold our military in very high regard, and we’re not lacking for nationalism. All it takes is one moron shouting ‘U-S-A! U-S-A!’ to get an entire stadium doing the same. One cursory glance at the whole NFL kneeling at the national anthem thing is enough to illustrate to most of us that national pride is very much alive and well. Have you ever heard a soldier ask for a parade to commemorate their service? You haven’t and you won’t. It’s been said that you can either get something done or get credit for getting something done. Our military is full of people who get things done routinely while someone far above them gets credit for the work. All they want is to make it home in one piece and live with some assurance that if they get hurt in the line of duty, they and their family are taken care of. A parade does none of that.

Then there’s the elephant in the room. While Trump provides endless lip service to our great military, his track record says otherwise. Trump is a draft dodger, citing ‘bone spurs’ that provide him a medical exemption from service. I’m willing to bet that to most of our enlisted, Trump’s words ring hollow.

Parades of this nature are typically the work of despotic regimes that are trying to artificially prop up the power of their military to their own people first, then the rest of the world. If Americans believe our military is strong, and the rest of the world believes the same, then what purpose does such a parade hold in the first place?

Brian Johnston
Author: Brian Johnston

Author, podcaster, optimist, guardian of The Proversation.

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1 Comment

  • Brian Johnston Reply

    Today the cost of the proposed parade was listed at $30 million. Can’t help but think that money would be better spent ensuring our veterans get proper healthcare and housing for their service.

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