It makes me chuckle that Macron invited him to the Bastille Day parade in France thinking that nothing would impress an ostentatious alpha male quite like some military muscle-flexing, and he was totally right. Months later POTUS is still chattering excitedly about it. Between this and his impressive handshake mindgames, Macron seems to think he has Trump all figured out. Maybe he does!
Trump didn’t get the idea from Macron, though. Allegedly he wanted some military hardware on display during his inaugural parade before the plan was scrapped. Projecting “strength” is a core tenet of Trumpism and nothing does it as bluntly as showing off the guns, but the U.S. is the last country in the world that should feel the need. Military processions are typically a reaction to insecurity, either by small countries that want to be taken semi-seriously regionally or by large countries faced with equally large and intimidating military rivals. Strongmen love them, of course, because the military projects their power internally, not just abroad. The most benign reason for a procession is the one Trump wants to emulate, marking a national holiday a la France’s Bastille Day. If he follows through he’ll get hammered by critics for militarism, particularly by linking military power to the patriotic impulses felt on July 4th, but nationalists will love it. America is in many ways a declining power, albeit not militarily; frankly, we probably *have* reached the stage of imperial insecurity where rolling an ICBM down Pennsylvania Avenue is needed for a national ego boost.
Plus, it never hurts to remind “Rocket Man” in Pyongyang what he’s up against. He should be well aware after 60+ years of antagonism, but never underestimate a cult leader’s ability to convince himself that he’s indestructible.
The funniest thing about the military parade idea is that rank-and-file liberals will fall all over themselves attacking Trump for it but the wider public will probably enjoy it and then Democratic presidents will be too scared of being called “anti-military” to end the practice. So we’ll end up 10 years from now with President Kirsten Gillibrand saluting nuclear weapons outside the White House as they drive past.
Trump: “We’re actually thinking about, 4th of July, Pennsylvania Avenue, having a really great parade to show our military strength.” pic.twitter.com/sowDJdNvaY
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 18, 2017