It is currently being reported that President Trump has requested the Pentagon produce a national military parade in Washington D.C.. The United States hasn’t seen anything of this caliber since the end of the Gulf War in 1991, so it is certainly outside modern day norms.
Although, during the 19th and 20th centuries, it wasn’t entirely uncommon for our military to hold a parade to celebrate the end of a war. There were parades in the capital to commemorate the end of the Civil War, World War I and World War II.
The difference is past military parades have celebrated the end of war, not endless war
A military parade to celebrate the end of a war is perfectly in line with both American tradition, and with the tradition of most other countries around the world.
However, the military parade that President Trump has requested is something entirely different. The United States is currently at war, or conducting significant military operations, in at least six countries around the world.
There are thousands of troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS, as well as thousands more in Afghanistan. There is no end in sight to those conflicts, or to the drone bombing campaigns underway in Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. There are also dozens of covert and “training” operations in countless other areas of the world – including most recently the botched operation in Niger.
There is no reason to believe that any of those operations are going to be scaled down under President Trump’s watch. He’s already sent thousands of additional troops into Afghanistan and will likely kowtow to his generals and send thousands more when they demand it next year.
A military parade today would be a disgrace
Therefore, the military parade requested by President Trump would not be in line with past celebrations of peace that were justified. Instead, it would be a celebration of endless war, a celebration of the military industrial complex’s lobbying power, and a celebration of the death of his “America First” foreign policy that promised to end nationbuilding and reckless interventionism.
It is entirely inappropriate for the United States to hold such a military parade. Such a spectacle would be comparable to the parades put on by dictatorships like North Korea. Is that the image America wants to emulate?
(Photo of President George H.W. Bush greeting General H. Norman Schwarzkopf who leads the Desert Storm Homecoming Parade in Washington, D.C on 8 June 1991 via the National Archives)