Thu, Feb 08, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Trump wants military parade in capital

‘TREMENDOUS THING’:Trump voiced the idea after watching the Bastille Day parade in Paris, saying that he wanted a parade grander than the one put on by the French

AP, WASHINGTON

US President Donald Trump, front row third right, and French President Emmanuel Macron, front row second right, watch the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14 last year.

Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump has asked the Pentagon to plan a grand parade of the US armed forces in Washington this year to celebrate the country’s military strength, officials said on Tuesday.

The Washington Post, which was first to report the plan, said that Trump wants an elaborate parade with soldiers marching and tanks rolling, but no date has been selected.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday evening confirmed the request.

Trump wants the Pentagon to “explore a celebration” that will allow Americans to show appreciation for the military, she said.

Pentagon officials are aware of the request and are “looking at options,” Pentagon spokesman Charlie Summers said.

Muscular military parades of the kind that are common in authoritarian countries like China and North Korea are not quintessentially American.

The US traditionally has not embraced showy displays of raw military power, such as North Korea’s parading of ballistic missiles as a claim of international prestige and influence.

US military members commonly participate in parades on the Fourth of July and other holidays to mark appreciation and remembrance of military veterans, but these typically do not include gaudy displays of military hardware.

In her brief comment on Trump’s order to the Pentagon, Sanders did not elaborate on what sort of event he envisions.

The Washington Post said that a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump, Mattis and top generals at the Pentagon marked a tipping point in Trump’s push for a parade.

It quoted an unidentified military official as saying: “The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France.”

It was thus interpreted as a presidential order, the paper said, adding that the cost of shipping tanks and other military hardware to Washington could run in the millions of US dollars.

It also reported that the Pentagon would prefer to hold such a parade on Veteran’s Day in November, in part because it would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the victorious end of World War I.

It would thus be less directly associated with the president and politics, the Washington Post said.

John Kirby, a retired US Navy rear admiral and former spokesman for the US Department of State and the Pentagon, on Tuesday night reposted on Twitter an article he wrote for CNN’s Web site last summer after Trump mentioned he had been dazzled by the Paris parade.

Kirby said a big military parade in Washington is a bad idea.

“First of all, the United States doesn’t need a parade down Pennsylvania or any other avenue to show our military strength,” he wrote. “We do that every day in virtually every clime all over the world.”

It has long been conventional wisdom that the US does not need to boast of its military strength because it already is recognized as the leader of the NATO and a model of military professionalism that countries across the global seek to emulate.

In September last year, at a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump announced his idea of staging a grand parade of the armed forces in Washington on July 4.

Trump reminisced about watching the Bastille Day military parade when he visited Paris in July.

He said the two-hour parade was a “tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France,” and said he wanted one on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington that would be grander than the one he saw in Paris.

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