President Donald Trump’s edict for the Pentagon to hold a military parade in Washington actually makes sense in a sick way. Shouldn’t we taxpayers get to see the missiles, warheads, tanks, drones, guns and other warfare hardware that over half of federal discretionary spending goes toward every year? Our tax dollars at work! But then, to have equal time, there should be a parade of homeless veterans, illiterate children getting poor education in our schools, people without health care, and would-be workers who can’t get jobs to help build the green economy, in order to represent the urgent domestic and environmental investments crowded out by our obsession with shoveling money into making things that go boom.
Seriously, the cost of Trump’s militaristic masturbation will be outrageous, tens of millions of dollars (at least, the Pentagon specializes in busting budgets and being the only federal agency that can’t pass an audit, so kinda like Trump himself). The display of military might makes one wonder, what does Trump think he has to prove to the world, the country, his critics, or to himself? The whole world knows the US has the most gargantuan war machine in human history. This is some unnecessary peacock strutting, with apologies to peacocks.
Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. denounced the Giant Triplets of militarism, racism and extreme materialism. They still plague our society today, and are interrelated, as must be our movements to overcome them. As for our militarism, it’s not just the misappropriation of our tax dollars, it’s the policies they fund. US military and foreign policy (nearly one and the same these days), mostly run on auto-pilot, with an almost total lack of democracy, as politicians bought and paid for by weapons contractors further their own interests, rather than ours.
To put it bluntly, our tax dollars fund outrageous policies, including the proposed $1.7 trillion upgrade to our nuclear arsenal which could go even higher with Trump's Nuclear Posture Review expanding not just the number and qualitative performance of nukes but also the circumstances in which they might be used, including response to cyber-attacks. These policies practically guarantee endless armed conflict and nuclear proliferation, making Americans and the whole world less safe. Trump’s proposed war parade should spark outrage, resistance and protest, and cancelling it would be a great step toward reclaiming our democratic control over the military madness we seem spellbound by.
Also, Congress needs to do its job, which it will do only if their constituents demand it. Congress’s near term to do list should include:
- Stop this asinine war parade;
- End US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia over its egregious bombing campaign in Yemen, which is causing a horrific humanitarian catastrophe;
- Bring the troops home (from basically everywhere) and reclaim Congress’s legal authority over war and peace;
- Prevent Trump from attacking North Korea and Iran (and any other country).
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If Congress can do any (or better yet all) of that, then yeah, let’s have a parade, celebrating a pivot toward peace and justice.