Trump: I Want a Parade Worthy of Me (UPDATES)
UPDATE – Feb. 23:
According to Politico.com, president Trump, who “revels in pageantry” has decided that he would like to have his military parade on Nov. 11 – Veterans Day.
A memo sent by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to Secretary of Defense James Mattis says Trump wants Mattis to brief him on “concepts of operation for this event” and that the parade route should begin at the White House and end at the Capitol.
It is not yet known whether Trump will ride in a tank, drive an ICBM-towing truck or just bask in glory on a stand while reviewing his parade, an extravaganza that has been estimated to cost as much as $50 million.
It has now been nearly a week since it became public that president Trump ordered the Pentagon to start planning for a military parade in our nation’s capital “like the world has never seen…worthy of me” *
Reactions to this egomaniac’s delusions of grandeur have been all over the map:
Robert O’Neill, the former US Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden in the famous 2011 Pakistan raid, is not very happy. He tweeted:
A military parade is third world bullshit. We prepare. We deter. We fight. Stop this conversation.
The late-night comedy world has been equally scornful about Trump’s delusional disorder, albeit in a more hilarious way.
Here is Trevor Noah at The Daily Show:
Click here to watch Kimmel, Colbert, Corden, Fallon and Noah:
And here are “Seven brutally hilarious cartoons about Trump’s military parade obsession,” courtesy The Week:
But how about the more serious men and women at the Pentagon?
Well, at a “Media Availability,” February 8, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, among laughter, said “Let me talk for a minute about a parade, why am I going to bring up a parade?” and continued:
I go over and I’m at the White House yesterday discussing the budget, which to me is a very important deal right now…While I was talking about that budget deal, I took questions and they start asking me about a parade. Let me tell you about the parade. The President is looking at a parade, OK? I owe him some options. No, I have not got those options done.
I will turn it over to the military guys who know how to do parades and we’ll put together options and we will work out everything from size to participation to cost. And when I get clear options, we will send those over to the White House.
And I’ll go over and talk with them.
Referring to the Pentagon briefing, The Stars and Stripes says:
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis acknowledged Wednesday that the Pentagon is drawing up options, linking the request to Trump’s affection for the military. But Pentagon officials have been hesitant to say much else, and various critics have suggested that it’s a bad idea.
Read more here.
* My words, based upon my take on Trump’s mentality.
[Scroll to bottom for another update]
As a retired military, I love military parades.
I wrote positively about our military participation in the traditional Bastille Day parade last year, in part intended to commemorate the centenary of the U.S. entry into World War I and to pay tribute to the American troops who fought and died in France a century ago.
As an Air Force retiree, I even applauded “our own U.S. Air Force F-16 Thunderbirds, flanked by two F-22 Raptors, [roaring] over the Arc de Triomphe to the Obelisk of Luxor in the Place de la Concorde, through the tri-color smoke trails left behind by preceding French Air Force Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets.”
I also remember the military parade down Constitution Avenue in 1991 honoring our military and celebrating victory in the Persian Gulf War.
But even for such an occasion, “opinion was ‘sharply divided’ at the time over the appropriateness of that display.”
Both the Bastille Day and the Gulf War victory parades were a far cry from the bellicose displays of raw military power and hardware we see all too often on Red Square, Tiananmen Square and Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square.
Going back to the Cold War days, Presidents Truman and Kennedy had military parades with military equipment during their inaugurations.
But, “[t]hose parades were a counterpoint to the parades in front of Lenin’s tomb at Red Square…One reason the Soviets had those parades was to distract the world from the fact that the Soviet military was actually much weaker than the Soviets were claiming,” says presidential historian Michael Beschloss in the Washington Post.
And “generally, the United States has shied away from parading its military assets, calculating that doing so was not necessary for the world’s preeminent superpower,” the Post adds.
Today, we learn that president Trump, who has never seen military service and who was star-struck by the Bastille Day parade, has given the Pentagon marching orders to “plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces,” and, reportedly, has requested “high-tech weaponry, tanks and other heavy equipment.”
If the parade materializes, it would most likely take place on Memorial Day, July 4, or Veterans Day and – if Trump has his way – it would proceed along Pennsylvania Avenue. “It is unclear what role Trump would play, whether he may perhaps serve as a grand marshal or observe the spectacle from a reviewing stand,” says the Post.
The problem is – in this writer’s opinion – that such a spectacle (which by Trump’s definition will have to be the “hugest and bestest” the planet has ever seen), will be more a celebration of Trump’s alleged greatness, more a tribute to his ego and his presidency, more a confirmation that his Nuclear Button “is much bigger & more powerful,” and more “basking in the military’s glory” by a man who avoided Service, than an honor to our military men and women.
And, we haven’t even mentioned the cost of this proposed extravaganza nor Trump’s “upending decades of American political tradition to do so — and undoubtedly drawing the ire of opponents who will allege he’s acting like an authoritarian.”
As Aaron Blake puts it in the Washington Post, “It will be one massive troll, complete with tanks and flyovers and marching soldiers. And it will be thoroughly Trump.”
In a late-breaking satire piece Andy Borowitz reports that the Pentagon has turned down Trump’s request for a grand military parade in his honor.
According to the (satire) report, there has been a strange and sudden “outbreak of bone spurs that would prevent men and women in uniform from participating,” with more than a hundred thousand military personnel complaining “that they were suffering from acute cases of bone spurs that would make marching in such a parade a painful ordeal”—something never-before experienced in the history of the U.S. Military.
A statement from the bone-spur sufferers said that they would continue to valiantly serve their country around the world in a non-marching capacity, and offered an alternative to their participation in Trump’s proposed pageant.
“President Trump is welcome to march in the parade all by himself if he would finally like to enlist,” the statement read.
Read more here