Feb 07, 2018
Bolstering his "image as an aspiring dictator" and further demonstrating that he has zero interest in drawing down the endless U.S.-led wars overseas that have killed millions, President Donald Trump has reportedly ordered the Pentagon to begin planning for a massive military parade in an effort to celebrate American military power and fuel his own ego.
"We must try to stop this colossal waste of money and display of authoritarianism."
--Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK
"The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France," a military official told the Washington Post, referring to the Bastille Day festivities that so impressed the president during his Paris visit last year.
Given that the U.S. is currently bombing seven countries and that civilian casualties have soared since Trump took office, anti-war groups were quick to denounce Trump's "marching orders" as "totally disgusting."
"It's a gross example of Trump's narcissism," Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK, told Common Dreams on Tuesday. "He wants thousands of soldiers to publicly salute him, as he recklessly sends them off to escalate wars from Afghanistan to Syria and start new conflicts with North Korea and Iran. We must try to stop this colossal waste of money and display of authoritarianism."
Benjamin added that if the parade is successfully planned, counter-demonstrations--such as a "massive Bikes Not Bombs contingent" and a "Healthcare Not Warfare brigade of doctors and nurses"--should be organized in an effort to "ask the American people which vision is more appealing."
News of Trump's demand for a military march, which he has openly desired since before his inauguration, comes as the president is also calling for a major increase in the already bloated military budget. According to news reports, Trump is expected to ask for a $716 billion Pentagon budget next month--a seven percent boost from last year's request, which has not yet passed Congress.
As the Washington Post notes, Trump is hardly the only president who has liked the idea of a huge military march.
Former President George W. Bush "would have loved a big parade," his former aides told the Post. But there was just one problem: "The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan never ended."
Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War, argued in a statement on Tuesday that a parade of the kind Trump envisions would only signal the president's desire to continue these endless wars and "reinforce the notion that America's foreign policy is military first (and second, third, and fourth)--particularly at a time when diplomacy is needed most."
"The truth is the money wasted on feeding Donald Trump's desire to see tanks and missiles paraded past his luxury hotel is money our nation desperately needs turning the lights back on in Puerto Rico, providing treatment for the opioid epidemic, making college affordable, and countless other needs Donald Trump seems to have no interest in meeting," Miles added.
Critics also had a field day with Trump's parade request on social media.
Foreign policy expert Micah Zenko outlined how the military parade could accurately depict America's disastrous foreign policy:
The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill had a rather different suggestion:
\u201cPerhaps we could get a sculptor to create a multi-story bust of Trump's hands for the tanks to pass under as his adoring subjects fawn over his latest achievements: https://t.co/jE3fM8H91U\u201d— jeremy scahill (@jeremy scahill) 1517964416
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