Posted on February 13, 2018
Back Off, For Yakov!
Parade idea sends slew of bad signals
“I like parades without missiles in them. I’ll take Bullwinkle to a tank any day.” – Yakov Smirnoff
That bit of wisdom was brought to us by a comedian who lived the first 26 years of his life in the Soviet Union. When Smirnoff (real name, Yakov Pokhis) was making wisecracks like that back in the 80s, he probably didn’t realize that we actually have had missiles and tanks parading through our nation’s capital on several occasions, such as the presidential inaugurations of FDR, Eisenhower and Kennedy. A similar event was also commissioned by Bush the First, as a victory parade to celebrate the end of the 1991 Gulf War.
While the merits of those parades are debatable, at least there was a particular occasion for each of them. The capriciousness of President Trump’s order to the Pentagon, to begin planning a military parade like they have in France on Bastille Day, provokes the additional question, what for? Is the Leader of the Free World simply doing the equivalent of calling for his fiddlers three? Or, because such spectacles have become so closely associated with totalitarian states, might he be tweaking the collusion-mongers by deliberately proposing the Russianist thing he can possibly think of?
There are good reasons why military parades have become so infrequent in our own country, and far more common in places like North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. For one thing, we’ve got nothing to prove. Putting on displays of military might for the rest of the world to see is for insecure dictators. Our enemies already know that we have enough military power to overwhelm them many times over. The only question they ever have is whether or not we’ve got the will to see it through, and driving tanks and missile launchers up Constitution Avenue doesn’t answer that.
Hostile nations are only one of the intended audiences of such a march, however. There’s also the domestic population. “Resistance Is Futile” is the unofficial theme of most of these parades. Just look at how strong and potentially destructive your fearless leader is. How can you ever hope to defeat him, when you don’t even have food, electricity or toilet paper? You are going to take what your government allows you to have, and pretend to like it, or else.
Obviously, this is not the kind of message that Trump means to deliver, but there’s yet another, very bad reason to go through with his plan, and that’s ego. As much as he says that the parade would be in honor of our military, that claim is contradicted by reports (and why would we doubt them now?) that he had wanted a similar demonstration, complete with tanks and missiles, at his inauguration. It doesn’t take a Freudian scholar to figure out that Trump views the United States military as an extension of his own manhood. As if any evidence were necessary to support that, we have his tweet from the day after New Year’s, in which he responded to the nuclear threat from North Korean chairman Kim Jong-un by saying, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
It’s not hard to see where this is headed. Let’s say Trump gets his parade, and everything goes as well as could be expected. The next day, as his supporters are praising the event as a glorious and dignified tribute to our military, he tweets a picture of one of the parading tanks, with the caption, “Hey, Little Marco, take a gander at this turret!” Eight million dollars and countless people’s valuable time, right down the latrine.
If Trump really wants to put on a parade to celebrate our military, it would be perfectly simple and relatively inexpensive to do that without involving any heavy artillery. A good start, which would cost absolutely nothing, would be for the president to belatedly acknowledge the virtue and the success of their mission in Iraq. Our military heroes could ride by in vehicles from which they may be seen waving to the crowd. They could be accompanied by marching bands, floats and balloons, and other elements we recognize from parades that are truly celebratory. If he tried, it shouldn’t be hard for Trump to find corporate sponsors for such a parade, so that the American taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill. Besides, it would still afford him plenty of opportunities to publicly brag about the size of his Bullwinkle.
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