America can’t pay its bills after spending decades and trillions of dollars on global hegemony. With our wars un-won and our veterans often unable to access the care they need to cope with the wounds, both physical and psychological, of battle, President Donald Trump believes its the perfect time for a Soviet-style show of military might in the streets of Washington, D.C.
The president was reportedly so impressed by the military displays during a Bastille Day parade he observed in France last year that he’s directed the Pentagon officials to put on something similar here in the U.S.
“This is being worked at the highest levels of the military,” a Pentagon insider told The Washington Post.
How much will it cost? Well, no one really seems to know.
Defense Secretary James Mattis dodged when a reporter asked why the Pentagon would spend time and money putting on a tank parade when the government is in the red and we haven’t won any of our recent wars.
“I think what my responsibility is to make certain I lay out the strategy and make the argument for the oversight of Congress to make the determination of fully funding us. As far as the parade goes again, the president’s respect, his fondness for the military, I think is reflected in him asking for these options,” Mattis said.
There are many people who see the parade idea otherwise, saying it’s a show of force out of line with American tradition.
As NPR reported:
U.S. presidents have long shied away from such displays of military prowess — which typically include tanks, missiles and, in some cases, goose-stepping soldiers — for fear of being compared to Washington’s Cold War adversaries, where such displays have traditionally been potent symbols of state power. Those countries include Russia (and, formerly, the Soviet Union), China and North Korea.
“To have a military parade without the end of a war or an inaugural or some big reason in Washington, D.C., that is out of our tradition,” presidential historian Michael Beschloss told NPR.
Beschloss points to the 1950s, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev presided over large military parades showing off the latest in Soviet military might. Beschloss says some in the White House approached Eisenhower, himself a decorated military general, suggesting the U.S. do the same, to show off American might.
“Eisenhower said absolutely not, we are the preeminent power on Earth,” Beschloss says, recalling Eisenhower’s response. “For us to try to imitate what the Soviets are doing in Red Square would make us look weak.”
Washington, D.C., Del. Eleanor Norton (D) blasted Trump on Twitter, suggesting the Pentagon could better honor the military by spending money elsewhere.
“A military parade in DC would shut down the nation’s capital and waste taxpayer dollars just to feed Trump’s ego,” Norton tweeted. “The way to show our service members and veterans that we appreciate their service is to use the parade money to fund their health care and other services they need.”
House Armed Services Committee member Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) called Trump a “Napoleon in the making” upon hearing reports of his parade plans.
And this time, Trump’s critics are right.
If Trump wants to honor the military, here are a few things he ought to work on before planning a parade: