Editorial: Raining on Trump’s parade; idea called ‘third-world bulls..t’
Perhaps it should not be surprising that Donald Trump, the misguided leader of the free world, has directed the U.S. Department of Defense to organize a large Bastille Day-type military parade. The parade would be complete with missiles, tanks, heavy weapons, troops, bands and flags — similar to those staged in Russia, North Korean or banana-republic dictatorships. It’s projected to cost millions of dollars.
Trump’s request came after viewing France’s Bastille Day parade, having already expressed admiration for other military parades.
What’s the point?
Critics say it’s to shore up the weak emotional instability of this president; others says it for the president’s entertainment.
A more balanced and respected opinion comes from former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was part of the team who organized the last military parade this country held back in 1991 following Desert Storm, the brief and successful military campaign led by the U.S. that pushed Iraq out of Kuwait back in 1991.
“America doesn’t need to convince the world how powerful we are with a display of our most powerful weapons. That is not who we are,” Hagel writes in the latest issue of U.S. News and World Report: “In fact, it makes us look weak. Would the point [of a parade] be to thank and recognize the men and women who serve in our military? Or would it be entertainment for our president, who told French President Macron that he so enjoyed the French parade that he too wanted a grand military parade like the Bastille Day parade that he attended? Not a good reason.”
Hagel continues: “It might be instructive to look back at our country over the last 100 years. One of America’s strongest presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, had a simple, clear national security policy. ‘Speak softly, and carry a big stick.’ President Roosevelt led America, an emerging global power, into the 20th century. He led with the power of America, but also the purpose of America.
“It has been America’s purpose, not its power, that the world has respected. Roosevelt led with the wisdom of a leader who understood his country; a changing world and the need to unify not divide. He also understood the serious and solemn responsibility of the use of power. Wise leaders balance purpose and power.
“History has seen many nations that emphasized their power, but they never lasted. In our volatile, complicated and interconnected world today we need friends, trading partners and alliances based on common interests and mutual respect. Not leading with the intimidation of military power or threats, dismantling trade, nuclear and environmental agreements, or other both tangible and intangible agreements. Military power is important. But the power of noble purpose, economic strength and a vibrant inclusive society governed by values and the rule of law are all more important. America’s military strength is dependent on its economic and societal strength.”
And, of course, it won’t be cheap. Back in 1991, the cost was between $8 million and $12 million. With Trump’s lavish tax cuts, debt ceiling expansion and a $1.1 trillion deficit facing the country in 2019 (almost triple what it was in 2015), expect Trump to blow the previous parade expenses out of the water, all in the name of “making America great again.”
The Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden may have aptly described what many of the country’s armed forces — and most civilians of all political stripes — are thinking when he described Trump’s idea of a military parade, “third world bulls..t … We prepare. We deter. We fight. Stop this conversation.”
If only we could.
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