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Military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue: A spectacularly bad idea

By —— Bio and Archives--February 7, 2018

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Military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue: A spectacularly bad idea
Tax cuts, deregulation, excellent judicial appointments, the unleashing of our domestic energy resources, ending the ObamaCare individual mandate, ending the assault on religious liberty . . . ah yes, there’s much to appreciate about the first year’s policy successes for Donald Trump.

So much that we should keep our mouths shut when Trump proposes something as horrific as a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, especially when he’s mainly driven by the insatiable need to one-up France?

No. Not enough. We knew when we elected Trump that along with the hopefully good things (many of which have come to pass), we would get some Trumpy nonsense like this:

President Trump, apparently inspired by the Bastille Day parade he witnessed last summer during a trip to Paris, has ordered the Pentagon to look into staging something similar — but naturally bigger and better — for Washington, D.C., the White House confirmed Tuesday.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the request, first reported by The Washington Post, on Tuesday evening. “President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe,” Sanders said in a statement. “He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”

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.

While the U.S. puts on various annual July 4 and Veterans Day parades, as The Associated Press notes, those typically do not include such “gaudy displays of military hardware.”


The president’s wish, first expressed months ago, seems recently to have gone from a “seemingly abstract desire” to something closer to a presidential directive at a meeting between Trump and top generals last month, according to the Post.

At the Jan. 18 meeting at the Pentagon that included Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., “The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was quoted by the Post as saying. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”

On the return trip from Paris aboard Air Force One in July, the president told aides “that he was dazzled by the French display and that he wanted one at home,” the newspaper reports. At the event staged on the postcard-perfect Champs-Elysees, Trump reportedly told French President Emmanuel Macron “We’re going to have to try to top it.”

No. We’re not.

This idea is Trumpy from start to finish - an audacious manifestation of the instincts that give us gaudy hotels and casinos with gold plating everywhere, and the flashiest displays of luxurious indulgence. Trump likes to show you his wealth, his influence and the outcome of his most ambitious work.

That bothers some people when he does it in his business life. I learned to shrug at it long ago. It’s who Trump is. It’s over the top but it’s basically harmless.

Turning the United States military into the nation-state equivalent of the Trump Tower for the purposes of wowing everyone is in a much different category and it’s a spectacularly bad idea.

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This is the sort of thing countries do when they’re trying to convince you they are mightier than they really are. Or perhaps they’re just trying to convince themselves. That sea of soldiers marching down your main street sure looks impressive when there is no enemy firing bullets, mortar or missiles at them. They look unstoppable, and that provides insecure leaders and populations who suffer from inferiority complexes with a false sense of security. I guess they think it’s better than no sense of security at all.

The United States needs no such show from its Armed Forces. It would be the equivalent of one of those douchebags who elevates his gigantic pickup truck three feet above his oversized tires and drives down Main Street blaring Metallica.

We’re all very impressed.

The White House says the purpose for this would be to give the public an opportunity to show their appreciation for the military. But we are not lacking for such opportunities now. The most genuine such expressions happen on street corners, in restaurants and in airports when ordinary members of the public see servicemen and servicewomen in uniform, or in fatigues, and they approach them spontaneously to thank them for their service. This is the right way to do it. We don’t need the president staging a gigantic event at which we feel compelled to applaud.

And while the military may indeed make this a top priority if it’s a presidential directive, I can just about guarantee you almost none of them want to. Their resources are stretched enough and they need to spend their time preparing for scenarios that affect national security.

I am sure “the optics” would be bad. I am sure the whole thing would be mocked on Twitter, and most likely already is. These are not the important reasons to shred this proposal. The important reason is that strong countries don’t do things like this. They don’t have to wave their strength in front of the entire world to prove anything. The world knows our military power is without equal, because every time it’s unleashed without being shackled by politicians, it wins decisively.

President Trump has made many excellent policy decisions since he took office, and most of the tweets and intemperate public statements that get attention are not really as important as they’re made out to be. This is the worst idea he’s had. Now, when it’s still in its infancy, is the perfect time to strangle it.

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Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain.com

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