Could President Trump be getting a major military parade, the likes of which we’re used to seeing in many European countries (in addition to a few less-savory nations)? According to news out of Washington this week, that plan could be very much in the works.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Pentagon is moving forward with tentative plans for such a display after a recent meeting with top military brass.
While the president has repeatedly mulled over the possibility of such a display of American military power in the past, the Jan. 18 meeting seemed to represent a “tipping point” in terms of taking action on the idea, the Post reported, quoting unnamed officials:
“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,” the Post quoted one anonymous military official as saying. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”
Whether that’s an accurate quote from the president or whether that could even be seen as a “directive” or “marching orders” are matters that are up to debate, I suppose. This is The Washington Post, however, and the WaPo is indeed gonna WaPo.
But Trump has made no secret of his desire for a grand gesture to showcase the military’s abilities.
The mention of France is little surprise when you consider the fact that the genesis of the idea seems to be from the Bastille Day parade in France, which the president attended last summer.
“Because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July 4th in Washington down Pennsylvania (Avenue),” Trump said in September after speaking at the United Nations.
“We’re thinking … of having a really great parade, to show our military strength.”
The plan is still in the “brainstorming” stages with “no meat on the bones,” sources inside the Pentagon say.
“We are aware of the request and are in the process of determining specific details. We will share more information throughout the planning process,” a spokesman for the Pentagon said.
After the Post published it’s story, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement confirming that the idea was in the works — and explaining exactly what the reasoning was behind it.
“President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe,” Sanders said, according to the Post. “He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”
Noble — and genuinely respectful — as the idea sounds, there were still plenty of people who genuinely loathed the very idea of a military parade without actually knowing what it entailed.
“I don’t think there’s a lack of love and respect for our armed forces in the United States,” Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian at Rice University, told The Post.
“What are they going to do, stand there while Donald Trump waves at them? It smacks of something you see in a totalitarian country — unless there’s a genuine, earnest reason to be doing it.”
There was also talk about whether this might destabilize the situation in North Korea. With all due respect, that situation has already become about as destabilized as it’s going to get.
Conservative could easily see how this can go wrong — military respect is one thing, military worship is more for communist countries than the American right. However, it can be done right — as countries in other parts of the world have proved.
A parade as a “celebration” of the armed forces — in Sanders’ word — could well be a unifying force in a divided country.
It could be a grand gesture, and if it’s on the Fourth of July, all the better.
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