You may recall that the Washington Post in an interview with Donald Trump reported on January 18, 2017, How Donald Trump came up with ‘Make America Great Again’:
All of which raises the questions: How can greatness be measured and sensed? What does it even mean?
“Being a great president has to do with a lot of things, but one of them is being a great cheerleader for the country,” Trump said. “And we’re going to show the people as we build up our military, we’re going to display our military.
“That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military,” he added.
The same day, the Huffington Post reported, Trump Sought Military Equipment For Inauguration, Granted 20-Plane Flyover:
During the preparation for Friday’s transfer-of-power, a member of Trump’s transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile launchers in the inaugural parade, a source involved in inaugural planning told The Huffington Post. “They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing.
The military, which traditionally works closely with the presidential inaugural committee, shot down the request, the source said. Their reason was twofold. Some were concerned about the optics of having tanks and missile launchers rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. But they also worried that the tanks, which often weigh over 100,000 pounds, would destroy the roads.
While the fact check site Snopes disputed the Huffington Post report as “unverified,” there is now reason to believe that it was true because Donald Trump has not given up his idea of a military parade in honor of “Dear Leader.” Trump’s ‘marching orders’ to the Pentagon: Plan a grand military parade:
President Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces.
Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top-secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning.
Surrounded by the military’s highest-ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said.
“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”
After The Washington Post first published this story, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement confirming that plans are underway.
The Pentagon also confirmed the plans following The Post’s initial report. “We are aware of the request and are in the process of determining specific details. We will share more information throughout the planning process,” Defense Department spokesman Thomas Crosson said in a statement.
As Ishaan Tharoor writes at the Washington Post, Military parades are about ego and power. Of course Trump wants one.
Dana Milbank of The Post mocks, Trump doesn’t need a parade. He needs a Roman triumph.
The obvious purpose of the parade is not to celebrate the troops, as the White House professes, but to celebrate Trump. Hence, his wish to have the parade before the November election (and the military’s wish to have it after). Given the real goal, the model that would best suit Trump has much older roots than a May Day or even a Bastille Day parade. What Trump needs is a Roman triumph.
The triumph was a public ceremony, including a parade, to celebrate as a near-deity the emperor or a triumphant general — complete with laurels, thrown flowers, adoring troops, war spoils and vanquished enemies in chains. It is, in short, just the sort of parade Trump would enjoy if done in his honor.
And Jennifer Rubin of The Post muses, First, a military parade. Will a mock uniform with epaulets be next?
But France does it! Yes, and the United States generally does not, with the exception of welcome-home festivities at the end of wars. We are the world’s only superpower and do not need theatrical presentations to demonstrate our power. Trump’s elevation of generals and newly retired generals to high civilian posts has already given his administration the aura of a Praetorian Guard, inverting the normal relationship between civilians and the military. We’ve already seen the downsides of the militarization of White House personnel and the president’s disturbing tendency to consider the military his personal (“my generals”) fighting force obligated to follow any order, no matter how contrary to the laws of war it may be. A Trumpian hardware display would complete the disturbing portrait of an administration out of touch with our traditions and norms.
(Image by Ann Telnaes of the Washington Post).
Congress is not on board with Trump’s parade plan. Trump’s military parade draws bipartisan rebuke:
Members of Congress from both parties joined retired military leaders and veterans in heaping scorn Wednesday on President Donald Trump’s push to parade soldiers and weaponry down the streets of the nation’s capital — calling it a waste of money that would break with democratic traditions.
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“I think confidence is silent and insecurity is loud,” Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, told reporters in expressing opposition to the idea. “America is the most powerful country in all of human history; you don’t need to show it off.”
“This is definitely not a popular idea,” added Paul Rieckhoff, the CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, describing the feedback he is getting from members of the largest group of post-Sept. 11 veterans. “It’s overwhelmingly unpopular. Folks from all political backgrounds don’t think it is a good use of resources.
“We are very aware of anything that politicizes the military,” he told POLITICO.
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Some of the loudest criticism, however, came from Democrats who warned that such a parade — which the White House portrays as a tribute to military members and veterans — would be an affront to American principles.
“A military parade of this kind would also be a departure from the values of our constitutional democracy,” said Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, in a statement. “We are a nation of laws, not of one person. In the past, we have held military parades to celebrate major national events such as the Gulf War or the end of World War II, as achievements by the American people who fought in and supported those efforts. A military parade like this — one that is unduly focused on a single person — is what authoritarian regimes do, not democracies.”
A pair of Democratic military veterans in Congress — Reps. Ruben Gallego of Arizona and Ted Lieu of California — wrote Defense Secretary James Mattis in a letter Wednesday that just “because authoritarian regimes like Russia and North Korea hold massive military parades does not mean that we must as well.”
The critics urged the administration to either scrap the idea or settle on a relatively small celebration to honor the men and women in uniform — without the kind of the weapons and heavy equipment commonly featured in parades in Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang.
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On Capitol Hill lawmakers questioned the price tag of what Trump is considering.
Four Democratic senators asked Mattis in a letter Wednesday to lay out the total cost in light of his testimony earlier this week that a lack of funding has left the Pentagon “overstretched and under-resourced.”
They asked what it would cost to plan the parade, secure the route and transport equipment, as well as what training or operations would have to be rescheduled or curtailed to accommodate the event.
“At a time of war, with American service members serving in harm’s way, such a parade seems to be inappropriate and wasteful,” Dick Durbin of Illinois, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Gary Peters of Michigan and Patrick Leahy of Vermont wrote. “Every penny of the millions of dollars that the parade would cost and every second of the tens of thousands of personnel hours its execution would require, should be devoted to the most essential missions of the Department of Defense — protecting the American people and our security interests.”
Others insisted any such preparations should be called off immediately.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a double-amputee Iraq War veteran, issued a statement saying that “our troops in danger overseas don’t need a show of bravado, they need steady leadership, long-term funding and resources so they can stay safe while protecting and defending our nation.”
Retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis similarly called on the president to cancel the plans. “Let’s leave the missiles in the silos where they belong, and be quietly confident in the lethality, professionalism, and integrity of our military — no parade necessary,” he wrote in Time.
Instead he advocated for other ways to show gratitude, including local events.
“On a smaller scale, local parades make a lot more sense,” the former commander of NATO wrote, noting that they “connect to communities and help recruiting. Or here’s an idea: instead of the big parade, how about a cookout honoring the troops? With rib-eye steaks, BBQ chicken, ribs and cold beer, civilians buying, cooking and cleaning up afterward?”
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill that a parade “makes sense,” with some caveats. Trump’s military parade plan sparks backlash:
“I’m not looking for a Soviet-style hardware display. That’s not who we are. It’s kind of cheesy, and I think shows weakness quite frankly,” he said.
“But have a parade where we can display our finest and we can all say ‘thank you’ and honor them would be fine.”
Just out of curiosity, is the huge boost in military spending that Congress is voting on today intended to cover the cost of military parades to honor our “Dear Leader”? Inquiring minds want to know.