Just Let Donald Trump Have His Parade
Donald Trump desperately wants a military parade in Washington D.C.
This comes as a shock to precisely no one.
Prior to his inauguration, Trump warned that the military “may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
“Being a great president has to do with a lot of things, but one of them is being a great cheerleader for the country,” he 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 be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military.”
Sadly, Trump’s hopes for a parade at his inauguration were dashed. Five military flyovers had been scheduled for the day, one for each branch of the armed services. They would have been the first flyovers to ever honor the occasion, but they were canceled due to poor weather.
What a disappointment that must have been.
“They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” said one coordinator involved in the planning.
Instead, they got nothing.
Later, on July 14, Trump traveled to Paris, France, where he was in town for Bastille Day celebrations.
And he was blown away by them.
Like a little boy, he was awed by the tanks, armored vehicles, and fighter jets flying overhead. It rekindled his desire to preside over an American pageant.
“To a large extent because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July 4 in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue," Trump told reporters in September. "We're actually looking into it."
And so, on January 18 of this year, Donald Trump gave the U.S. military its marching orders.
“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official involved in the meeting. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”
So Donald Trump is finally getting his parade.
Unfortunately, not everyone is as excited as he is.
Raining on the Parade
Since the news surfaced it’s been roundly criticized as pointless, costly, tacky, egotistical, unnecessary, and impractical.
Indeed, the last military parade, which followed the Gulf War, cost $12 million.
Such parades are a lot of work to rehearse, taking a great deal of time and preparation — time that could be better spent training or patrolling.
And traditionally, America has followed more of a “speak softly, and carry a big stick" approach to military displays.
To put it bluntly, we don’t need to flash our power, because the world is already familiar with it.
We don’t need to convince anyone, including the American public, that it exists. And we don’t need a parade to drum up pride in our armed forces when servicemen and women are already highly regarded.
So, such a parade can only really be for an audience of one: the president himself.
Perhaps that’s why so many politicians and military commanders are backing away from it.
Even Fox & Friends, the president’s “Executive Time” comfort food, received the news tepidly.
“I don’t know,” said Brian Kilmeade. “It seems like a waste of money.”
In addition to the cost (“We do know that just like the wall, he will have to pay for it," said the D.C. mayor’s office.), city leaders worry about heavy machinery tearing up the streets.
“I could absolutely see structural support being a reason [not to use tanks],” a Department of Defense official said. “D.C. is built on a swamp to begin with.”
And while Trump’s Congressional opponents seized on comparisons with tin-pot dictators — "We have a Napoleon in the making here," said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California — members of his own party struggled to defend the idea.
“I am not interested in a military hardware display that would be cheesy and project weakness," said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
Why, then, should we just let Donald Trump have one?
Simple. To keep him from bombing North Korea.
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The thing about President Trump is that he’s all about perception.
He desperately wants to be seen as strong. His whole act is built on tough-guy talk and machismo.
But what’s truly scary is that Donald Trump’s perception of his own strength has become intertwined with U.S. military strength.
That’s why he wants a parade.
That’s why he goes on rants about bombing “the shit” out of ISIS.
It’s why he tweets ridiculous insults at North Korea.
And it’s why he’s spearheading the largest expansion of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal since the Cold War.
During a gathering of national security officials in July 2017, Trump said he wanted the U.S. to boost its active stockpile to 1960s levels — a tenfold increase.
“We're never going to fall behind any country, even if it's a friendly country, we're never going to fall behind on nuclear power," Trump says. "It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack."
Not only that, he wants to make nukes easier to use. He wants to use them in situations that are less than retaliatory. Again, he's said as much.
Donald Trump wants to use nuclear weapons.
We know this because he’s been talking about it for years.
Here’s a direct quote from a conversation he had with Chris Matthews in March 2015: “Somebody hits us within ISIS — you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke? Why are we making them? Why do we make them?”
“Look, nuclear should be off the table,” he added. “But would there be a time when it could be used, possibly, possibly?”
Trump expanded on his position the very next day in an interview with Fox News, saying he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of using nukes in Europe.
“Europe is a big place. I’m not going to take cards off the table. We have nuclear capability… The thought of it is horrible. But I don’t want to take anything off the table.”
And finally, after he was elected president, Donald Trump reportedly asked a foreign policy expert on his transition team: “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”
He didn’t just ask the question once, either. He asked it three times.
Three times he asked: “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”
Again, this is similar to Trump’s question to Chris Matthews, which was “Why do we make them?”
This, like everything else, all comes back to Trump’s ego.
So you know what? Let him have his parade. Roll out the tanks. Get the jets out there. Have the boys march down Pennsylvania Ave.
Because if we don’t, President Tweets is going to go looking for some other way to soothe his ego. He’s going to find another way to demonstrate his strength. And he’s going to do it in a way that’s going to make lives as expendable as confetti.
Jason Simpkins is a ten-year veteran of the financial publishing industry, where he's served as a reporter, analyst, investment strategist and prognosticator. He's written more than 1,000 articles pertaining to personal finance and macroeconomics. Simpkins also served as the chief investment analyst for a trading service that focused exclusively on high-flying energy stocks. For more on Jason, check out his editor's page.
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