Let's Go Ahead and Have a Military Parade in Washington, but Declare Victory in the War on Terror First
Trump wants to outdo the Bastille Day festivities in Paris.
Donald Trump's longstanding desire for a military parade in D.C. has turned into a presidential directive, according to a report in The Washington Post.
That led to the usual back-on-forth in the punditocracy. Liberals got a bit of collective amnesia about America's storied history of jingoism, claiming that a military parade doesn't reflect American values. In fact, like it or not, many presidents have found comfort in wrapping themselves in the flag and hiding behind service members and veterans.
Trump supporters, and even some conservatives who don't support Trump, lauded the idea. National Review's David French—the guy Bill Kristol once touted as a potential third-party candidate in 2016—said he was "fine" with a military parade because of the things he says the military has done since 9/11, like toppling the Taliban and Saddam Hussein and defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He didn't note that American troops remain in Afghanistan more than 16 years after toppling the Taliban, and that they're also present in Hussein's old Iraqi stomping grounds and in Syria.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) may have had the most relevant take:
I'm all for a parade if it's to celebrate bringing our young men and women home from these unauthorized wars overseas.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) February 7, 2018
Reason's own Jesse Walker made a similar suggestion earlier in the day:
I'm fine with a big military parade, but only if they invite every U.S. soldier in Afghanistan and then let them head home from there.
— Jesse Walker (@notjessewalker) February 7, 2018
Trump's desire for a military parade is certainly on-brand. He's spoken highly of France's traditional Bastille Day Military Parade ever since being invited as President Emmanuel Macron's guest last year, and he made a big deal during his presidential campaign of saving a veterans' parade in New York in 1995.
At the same time, Trump has sometimes flirted with understanding that U.S. foreign policy is dangerously interventionist. A military parade would be a small price to pay for declaring victory and ending the war on terror, if someone could convince the president to link the two. It would certainly be an ego-booster.