There may come a time when it’s appropriate for America to put its military machinery on public display in Washington, or to fete its troops with a ticker tape parade through the canyons of Manhattan.
We’ve done it before. But always when we’ve had a military victory to celebrate. Such spectacles have never been staged for the simple amusement of a president who revels in shiny things.
President Donald Trump is said to be ordering up a military parade, after having become infatuated with the one he attended on Bastille Day in Paris.
The French love the pomp of their military might. That’s largely because they hope that polishing up their hardware of war and rolling it down the Champs-Elysees will make their own citizens and their potential enemies forget that when it comes to actually using it, they’re more show than go.
Likewise the North Koreans, whose madman dictator enjoys nothing better than marching his half-starved soldiers in front of his reviewing stand.
America needs no such proof of its potency. We’ve demonstrated our might often enough — remember Shock and Awe? — that the world can little doubt our nation’s lethality.
As for Americans themselves, we have confidence in our troops and our gear. It’s the ability of our leaders to deploy them effectively that we sometimes doubt.
Trump does himself no favors in persisting with this silly parade idea. His foes have too often compared him to Adolph Hitler and other fascist strongmen for him to draw any parallels himself. He’d just be playing into their hands.
If Trump wants a parade, he should earn one. Deliver a decisive victory over ISIS, al-Qaida and the other Islamist terrorists who have tormented us for so long and he’d be perfectly justified in rolling the tanks and missile launchers down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Until then, we should focus on using our big stick rather than waving it in the wind.
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