Trump flirts with flashy military parade long eschewed by US

WASHINGTON (AP) — For generations, as America’s authoritarian rivals strutted their tanks, troops and jets through main thoroughfares in dramatic displays of strength, the United States watched from afar, but did not emulate.

Widely accepted as the world’s mightiest, the U.S. military has no tradition of putting itself on parade like in Russia, North Korea or China. But President Donald Trump does not often stand on tradition. So Trump’s directive to the Pentagon to draft options for a massive march reverberated across Washington on Wednesday like the thud of a discharged cannon, as lawmakers and military leaders mused about the cost, the risk and the purpose.

“People will wonder, ‘Well, what are they afraid of now? What are they trying to prove?'” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District of Columbia in Congress, said in an interview. “We don’t have to show off to make a point.”

It was a critique voiced by both Democrats and Republicans the day after The Washington Post revealed Trump wants an elaborate parade this year to rival the Bastille Day celebration in Paris that made a distinct impression on him in July. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin called it a “fantastic waste of money,” while Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN that the parade risked being “kind of cheesy and a sign of weakness” if it’s just about showing off military muscle.

The president did not seem deterred, although his aides rushed to downplay the notion that it was anything beyond an idea Trump had floated “in a brainstorming session” to help Americans express gratitude and pride for the military. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there had been no final decision. And Trump’s legislative director said it was too early to even guess about potential costs, though it’s assumed it would cost millions.

“We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them up to the White House for a decision,” said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as reporters peppered him with questions at the White House. “The president’s respect, his fondness for the military I think is reflected in him asking for these options.”

In the nation’s capital, officials were scrambling to identify potential implications for such a parade, such as whether D.C. streets could even accommodate heavyweight tanks and other equipment. On its official Twitter account, Washington’s city council openly trolled the commander in chief, declaring that despite wintery weather, “DC Public Schools will open on time today. Sadly, the Giant Tank Parade is canceled. Permanently.”

COMMENTS