Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump has given an order to the United States’ highest-ranking officials. Nope, he is not about to launch a nuclear attack on defiant North Korea. But if he couldn’t get the satisfaction of bombing his biggest rhetoric enemy, Kim Jong-un, at least he wants to show off American power – a military parade – in Washington.
After all, Trump had said he has a bigger nuclear button than Kim. The U.S. president reportedly issued the order during a January 18th meeting with his top generals in the Pentagon’s tank – a room reserved for top-secret discussions. According to anonymous Military officials, Trump said – “I want a parade like the one in France.”
While the White House said it was merely a “brainstorming”, the Washington Post reveals plans are actually underway to satisfy President Trump’s latest desire. Defence Department spokesman Thomas Crosson said – “We are aware of the request and are in the process of determining specific details. We will share more information throughout the planning process.”
Apparently, Trump was inspired by France’s Bastille Day celebration in Paris last year, of which he was invited to attend by French President Emmanuel Macron. The U.S. Commander-in-Chief was impressed by the tableau of uniformed French troops marching down Avenue des Champs-Elysees with military tanks, armoured vehicles, gun trucks and fighter jets.
Later, aboard Air Force One en route home from Paris, aides said Trump told them that he was dazzled by the French display and that he wanted one at home. Two months later in September, both Trump and Macron met again in New York at the United Nations General Assembly and the former remarked how he enjoyed watching France’s Bastille Day military parade in Paris.
President Trump told reporters – “It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen. We may do something like that on July 4th in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue. We’re going to have to try to top it, but we have a lot of planes going over and a lot of military might, and it was really a beautiful thing to see and representatives from different wars and different uniforms.”
The U.S. president prefers a military parade to be held on a patriotic holiday – such as Memorial Day on May 28, or Independence Day celebration on July 4th. However, Pentagon prefers Veterans Day on Nov. 11 – in part because it would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the victorious end of World War I and therefore be less associated with the president and politics.
It’s also unknown if Trump will get his wish to have the parade to proceed along Pennsylvania Avenue, which links the Capitol and the White House and would be the same route as Trump’s inaugural parade and pass by his family’s property – Trump International Hotel. Obviously, it would boost the business of his family hotel there.
Once the owner of Miss Universe Organization, it’s only natural that Trump loves to show off beautiful, glamorous and mighty American military machines to the world. The military parade could be Trump’s once in a lifetime opportunity to show off – once and for all – particularly Kim Jong-un, that he is the ultimate and most powerful man in the world.
Unlike countries such as North Korea, China or Russia, the United States does not get to show military parade every year. Russia hosts their annual Victory Day military parade in Moscow in May to mark the defeat of Nazi Germany. China also has regular military parades in Beijing showing its increasing military might – ranging from troops, mobile missile launchers, tanks and new stealth fighter jets.
There’s a reason why the United States has traditionally shied away from parading its military assets. A military parade is often associated with a totalitarian country, something which is the opposite of American’s belief. Additionally, such military parade is unnecessary as it’s a public knowledge that the U.S. is already the global superpower.
In fact, the last major military parade held in Washington was in 1991 to mark victory in Operation Desert Storm, the first Persian Gulf War. That parade 27 years ago had chewed up US$8 million in cost, not to mention involved thousands of troops, nearly a dozen bands, and a fleet of missiles, tanks and the flyover of more than 100 aircraft.
The 1991 parade reportedly was paid for with about US$3 million in U.S. government funds and the remainder from private donations. At a time when Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and his top generals have been complaining about the state of military readiness and lobbying Congress for more money, it would be seen as wastage to pull a parade stunt because Trump wants to look great.
Although the White House claims that President Trump wants to do something that highlights the service and sacrifice of the military and have a unifying moment for the country, critics said the idea was nothing but “narcissist” Trump’s appetite to brag, which could potentially provoke North Korea Kim Jong-un with more playground nicknames and threats.
There were also criticisms that Donald Trump does not deserve honouring the American soldiers since he did not serve in the armed forces, avoiding 5 drafts during the Vietnam War by claiming bone spurs. However, a military parade, no matter how pretentious Trump is, would go a long way to lure votes as 2018 midterm elections is approaching.
Still, there’s a question of how much Trump’s military parade plans to show off. North Korea is scheduled to have a massive military parade on Thursday – a day ahead of the opening of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Mr. Kim would certainly display the latest ballistic missiles and other military hardware. Will Trump insist of parading American ballistic missiles too?
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