July 19, 2019

The Military Parade We Deserve

“Giddy with an enthusiasm that resembles nothing so much as a small child breathlessly describing his birthday party plans, President Trump is finally getting something of the military parade he has long desired. Independence Day celebrations in Washington this year will layer over traditional festivities a campaign-style presidential address, Air Force flyovers, extra fireworks, VIP seating for GOP donors, and — most controversially — tanks. The whole shebang will run us unknown millions of dollars, and that’s excluding any costs incurred if the heavy military equipment wreaks havoc on local infrastructure. Trump, predictably, insists the price is “very little compared to what it is worth,” because we “own the tanks and all”!

Many are unconvinced of the value of the affair. Trump’s subsumption of July 4th is a “misuse of the military as props for his own partisan ends and personal glorification,” griped The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin. He is “raiding of the Treasury for his personal aggrandizement,” giving “preferential treatment for rich toadies,” and, crucially, “misconstruing … American traditions … to transform a holiday about the greatest experiment in civilian self-government into a garish military Mardi Gras.”

This is not the way to salute our nation, Rubin and fellow critics argue. The Fourth of July should celebrate American principles of freedom and democracy, they say, and a gimcrack exercise in conspicuous militarism, wasteful spending, and presidential exaltation is wildly inappropriate.

Or is it?

Trump’s party is jingoistic, expensive, shoddily planned, self-serving, and smacking of authoritarianism. It sounds terrible — and basically right for the state of the American empire. We may like to think our country is unsuited to this sort of display, but the evidence says otherwise. Unfortunately, a military parade may be exactly what America deserves.”

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