had to happen. Trump, believing himself to be something more than a
mere president of the United States, has called for a glorious
military parade to showcase the power of the country in the world.
he may have been inspired by last year’s parade in France that
he witnessed, inspired by the celebration of the victory of the
French Revolution and the Bastille Days that followed, he might be
thinking of the return of the victorious Roman legions, as they came
back to Rome with their captives and loot to show the emperor. It
was cause for a general holiday. And, they even selected a few of
the more noted captives for execution as part of the celebration.
victorious general was carried about the city in a chariot drawn by
four horses and he was dressed in luxurious robes and his face was
painted red, to match the painted faces of the statues of Mars, the
god of war. During his campaign and into his first year of the
presidency, Trump was colored rather orange, but he has toned it down
in recent months. The people had better watch out if he shows up
anywhere with a red-painted face.
Generals and president
in the U.S. typically have shunned spectacles such as a military
parade, with all the impressive weapons of death that the nation
possesses. Instead, there was the occasional ticker tape parade
highlighting the grunts who fought the war. Officials chose to
forego the trappings of power, especially after World War II, when
the U.S. became one of the few world superpowers. It may have been
because there was a bit of humility on the parts of those in power,
or it may have been that they did not want to show all the lethal
power the nation possessed.
it was, there were no gigantic military parades such as those of the
former fascist dictatorships in Europe or the Chinese displays of
weaponry, especially rockets and missiles. But Trump seems
especially impressed by the military parades and displays of Kim Jong
Un, the dictator of North Korea, who can order a military parade just
about anytime he wishes. That kind of power apparently impresses
Donald Trump, who has had a shouting match (in tweets) with Kim,
about whose nuclear button is bigger.
is unseemly that the president of a nation so powerful (it may be the
most powerful the world has ever seen) would be entrapped in an
exchange with a nation whose priority is to continue to develop
nuclear weapons and the rockets and missiles to carry them over the
seas. No president should be so easily goaded, but Trump is not your
usual head of state. The minutiae of all his bullying takes up much
of his time, and he often acts on impulse, which is not the way to
conduct any business, especially that of the U.S. Thus, we have
preparations for a Roman spectacle of the victorious legions.
may be a little testy about one thing. He must have noted at least
during the Republican campaign for the nomination that superpowers
are not winning wars anymore and said that the U.S. has to “start
winning wars again.” It was likely that he had in mind
Vietnam, where the greatest powers in the world suffered a defeat in
the decades-long destruction against pajama-clad peasants on
bicycles. That can be humiliating, especially since Trump studiously
avoided service in that tragic war by seeking deferment after
deferment, one of which was for “bone spurs.”
is one problem with comparing Rome of a few thousand years ago and
the U.S. today and that is that the legions went to do battle with
armies of somewhat equal power. When they won,
if they won, they returned in victory. While Rome had a political
system in their realm after the conquests, the legions could return
to savor their victories. The U.S. has at least 800 bases around the
world and they presumably are staffed by both military and civilian
personnel, so it would be a hard choice about which ones should be
called to Washington to participate in a Trump military parade.
might be that the president sees himself as a general (after all, he
is the commander-in-chief), and that could be the impetus for his
demand for a parade, even though he may not be able to single out one
victory on the battlefield. Another thing for General Trump to keep
in mind is that, in Roman times, as the general was being carried
about the city in his chariot, there was a slave at his ear,
whispering, “Remember, you are a mortal.” That’s a
hard concept for Trump to digest. By his actions, he shows that he
feels he is superior to most human beings and that he may be in some
way immortal. It’s a dangerous combination.
might get his military parade, but will anyone show up? Kim can
direct a large portion of his 25 million people to show up for his
parades. Other dictators have and still can turn out people who want
to stay in the good graces of the dear leader. In the U.S., however,
a large percentage, if not a great majority of the people, are sick
of endless war and the devastation it brings to the people, because
the wealth of the country is wasted on weapons, weapons systems, and
other “defense” systems and programs, rather than
providing for all the things that make life livable for the vast
majority of Americans.
the reason he is demanding a glorious military parade, it will be
just another expense in a federal budget that is stretched to the
limit and, with his victorious tax cut that benefits the rich rather
than wage workers and the poor, he is ensuring that social programs
will be put on the back burner for yet another years-long period.
there is any bright side to a mighty military parade, think of the
saloons and breweries that will do a thriving business, if the
typical Super Bowl victory parade is any indication.