It is said that everyone loves a parade. And apparently, no one loves a parade more than the president Donald Trump.
Trump has seriously proposed that the U.S. military put its forces and might on a parade. Why would he want to do this? If he truly wanted to honor the military and the sacrifices its men and women have made it might be understandable, but seems more like he wants a grand show of respect for himself and the power he commands. Of course, this is exactly what the autocrats in China, Russia and, especially, North Korea do to remind the world and their own people of the power they command.
The request for a military parade was initially made by President Donald Trump to The U.S. Department of Defense, after observing the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris last year. Trump said he wanted to hold a similar parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, perhaps to celebrate the Fourth of July. According to the officials, Trump’s desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive.
“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke anonymously because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. He noted that shows of military strength are not typical in the United States.
Unlike France, however, the United States until now has primarily conducted large-scale military parades to mark military triumphs. The largest in U.S. history was the Grand Review of the Armies on May 23–24, 1865, to mark the end of the Civil War. 145,000 men paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue for two days under the watchful eyes of President Andrew Johnson and the commanding general of the Army, Ulysses S. Grant. The U.S. military marched down the avenues of D.C., New York, and smaller American cities on multiple other occasions during and following the victorious ends of the Spanish-American War, as well as the First and Second World Wars. The most spectacular modern-day example was the June 1991 National Victory Celebration to commemorate U.S. victory in the Gulf War.
There is a few reasons why Trump’s parade is considered to be a bad idea. First of all, shows of military strength are not typical in the United States and they can be very expensive. According to Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, the cost of shipping Abrams tanks and high-tech hardware to Washington could cost between $10 million and $30 million and the government would have to come up with a way to cover the cost. Instead, all these money could be better used elsewhere. Plenty of vets still need health care, maneuver battalions could use more training funds, aircraft need spare parts and ships need repairs. So instead of spending all these large amounts of dollars in a parade which only lasts a few hours, the government should think in long terms about the welfare of the country and make the best use of that money.
Also, many officials including John Kirby, a retired Navy rear admiral and former spokesman for the State Department and the Pentagon think Trump’s military parade is a bad idea. As Kirby states, the United States don’t need a parade to show their military strength. America is already recognized as the leader of the NATO alliance and a model of military professionalism that countries across the global seek to emulate. This statement made by Kirby is completely true and time has already proven it.
Furthermore a large-scale military parade would reinforce two negative themes of Trump’s own presidency: insecurity and isolation. Military parades that do not stem from a victory and are not part of an annual patriotic holiday cycle symbolize a deep sense of insecurity of a country’s political and military leadership. Yet it will likely have the opposite effect for the president, give a wrong message to other countries and make America and his administration vicariously look weak.