After the White House confirmed reports that President Trump requested that they begin to plan a military parade, both liberals and (a good amount of) conservatives criticized the idea, calling it a waste of time and money–not to mention that it reeks of a totalitarian dictatorship. Just next week, Kim Jon Un is having yet another military parade.
During a press statement, Defense Secretary James Mattis said officials are working on options to present to Trump.
“I think we’re all aware in this country of the president’s affection and respect for the military,” Mattis told reporters at the White House. “We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them up to the White House for decision.”
But when asked about the cost and time of the parade, Mattis side-stepped the question.
“I think what my responsibility is to make certain I lay out the strategy and make the argument for the oversight of Congress to make the determination of fully funding us. As far as the parade goes, again, the president’s respect, his fondness for the military, I think is reflected in him asking for these options,” Mattis said.
This isn’t the first time Trump wanted to have a military display. In fact, he wanted a procession of tanks and missile launchers in his inauguration parade. He also wants another parade on the Fourth of July.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is now in the early stages of organizing and planning a parade, which is probably a statement no one ever expected to hear.
“I’m aware of the president’s request, and we are in the initial planning stages to meet the president’s direction,” Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.
The Pentagon has already confirmed that the Army would take charge of planning the event, but there is still no indication of when or where the parade will take place.
“We are aware of the request and are in the process of determining specific details. As you can expect, this is a complex event and there are many variables that go into the planning and execution of a parade,” Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis told The Hill. “DOD will provide options for the president and send them to the White House for review.”
Meanwhile, opposition to the parade his already beginning. Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Ted Lieu (D-CA.), military veterans on the House Armed Services Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote a joint letter to Mattis warning him that the parade will be “frivolous.”
“No one in the world doubts the strength of our military or the professionalism of our men and women in uniform,” they wrote. “A parade will not alter that perception. Instead, it will likely prompt ridicule from our friends and foes alike. It should go without saying that just because authoritarian regimes like Russia and North Korea hold massive military parades does not mean that we must as well.”
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wa), also expressed how “greatly concerned” he is with the plans.
“The military is not President Trump’s personal toy set,” Smith said in a statement. “He cannot be allowed to continue focusing on parades and ego-inflating toys instead of real, basic military needs that can jeopardize lives if they are not met.”
It’s not just Democrats voicing concern. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said that he doesn’t “know that it’s necessary,” but switched topics to the talking about the budget deal.
“Any time you can show appreciation and admiration the men and women in uniform who serve in the military that’s a good thing,” he continued. “But the best way to show it is to support this budget and make that they have planes that fly and ships that sail and have the training they needs for missions.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN he would support a parade that focuses on the troops instead of military equipment.
“I don’t mind having a parade honoring the service and sacrifice of our military members,” Graham said. “I’m not looking for a Soviet-style hardware display. That’s not who we are, it’s kind of cheesy and I think it shows weakness, quite frankly.”
The last military parade America has was in 1991 to celebrate the end of the Gulf War. It drew 200,000 spectators to Constitution Avenue and cost $8 million ($14 million today). That was for a small parade to celebrate the end of a war.
There is no way Trump is going to want a small parade–he wants the Soviet Union, China, Nazi Germany, North Korea parade. And for what they’ll spend on it, they could instead fund projects for Veterans.
But the Reality TV President knows a good ratings’ hook when he sees one.