February 07, 2018

A Bananas Republic

Trump’s Military Parade is a terrible idea

by Chris Thomas

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If the President wants some precise military drill to liven up his afternoon, the Blue Angels will be happy to indulge him. Photo by David Treadwell

The Washington Post is reporting that President Trump wants a military parade through Washington DC. This is a terrible idea on several counts.

It’ll be expensive

No matter when the parade is or what President Trump’s role in it is, it will cost a bunch of money. Ignoring the not-inconsiderable costs of transporting, billeting, and paying the servicemen and servicewomen who would march in the parade, there are the costs of equipment transport to consider as well. Tanks, APCs, artillery, missile systems, and the like are heavy equipment and the coordinated transport of such is an expensive logistical undertaking. The price tag for showing off America’s heavy armor alone would be in the millions of dollars.

It’ll send the wrong message

Military parades exist to make the military look strong. The key word there is “look.” Countries that are actually in possession of a strong military need make no public demonstration of the fact. Simply put, posturing looks weak and the world got quite its fill of despots showing off the functional fraction of their military hardware when the Soviet Union used to make a big production of it in Red Square.

It’ll wreck havoc on Washington DC

Washington is not a city with a lot of excess transport capacity. Tolls to take I-66 into the District recently topped $40 for a ten-mile stretch of the road. Washington is a commuter nightmare under the best of conditions and, even on a national holiday, choking off the city’s under-developed internal roadways with columns of military personnel, heavy equipment, and the inevitable crowds will functionally shut down one of the East Coasts’ largest metropolises and paralyze the millions who live in and around it.

It only honors Trump

While parades sometimes celebrate a victory in wartime, it is difficult to imagine how, in time of peace, being asked to parade around in battle dress uniforms for the entertainment of the President constitutes “honoring” the military. Certainly peacetime military parades are often about honor, but usually that is the honor of the State or the Head of State. The people in uniform are the ones doing the honoring.

The reason that the idea of a military parade evokes images of military dictators in white suits is that they’re fundamentally at odds with the ethos of American democracy. The military in the United States answers to a civilian authority and it is the rule of law, not force of arms, that grants political legitimacy in the American system. Our political history teaches us that a large, standing army is among the greatest conceivable threats to liberty and the necessity of one in the post-War era remains an uncomfortable source of friction in American culture.

Tell Congress What You Think

While Congress can’t keep the President from ordering a parade, it can refuse to pay for it. The upcoming budget fight is a great time for Congress to insist on better stewardship of Pentagon funds. You can write to your Representatives and Senators by texting RESIST to 50409 to contact your government or talk to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or Twitter.

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