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Est. April 5, 2002
February 08, 2018 - Issue 728

Trump Reaching Back
Centuries for Parades
Emulate to Show U.S. Power


"Trump seems especially impressed by the military parades
and displays of Kim Jong Un, the dictator of North Korea,
who can order a military parade just about anytime he wishes. 
That kind of power apparently impresses Donald Trump, who
has had a shouting match (in tweets) with Kim,
about whose nuclear button is bigger."

It had to happen. Trump, believing himself to be something more than a mere president of the United States, has called for a glorious military parade to showcase the power of the country in the world.

Although he may have been inspired by last year’s parade in France that he witnessed, inspired by the celebration of the victory of the French Revolution and the Bastille Days that followed, he might be thinking of the return of the victorious Roman legions, as they came back to Rome with their captives and loot to show the emperor. It was cause for a general holiday. And, they even selected a few of the more noted captives for execution as part of the celebration.

The victorious general was carried about the city in a chariot drawn by four horses and he was dressed in luxurious robes and his face was painted red, to match the painted faces of the statues of Mars, the god of war. During his campaign and into his first year of the presidency, Trump was colored rather orange, but he has toned it down in recent months. The people had better watch out if he shows up anywhere with a red-painted face.

Generals and president in the U.S. typically have shunned spectacles such as a military parade, with all the impressive weapons of death that the nation possesses. Instead, there was the occasional ticker tape parade highlighting the grunts who fought the war. Officials chose to forego the trappings of power, especially after World War II, when the U.S. became one of the few world superpowers. It may have been because there was a bit of humility on the parts of those in power, or it may have been that they did not want to show all the lethal power the nation possessed.

Whatever it was, there were no gigantic military parades such as those of the former fascist dictatorships in Europe or the Chinese displays of weaponry, especially rockets and missiles. But Trump seems especially impressed by the military parades and displays of Kim Jong Un, the dictator of North Korea, who can order a military parade just about anytime he wishes. That kind of power apparently impresses Donald Trump, who has had a shouting match (in tweets) with Kim, about whose nuclear button is bigger.

It is unseemly that the president of a nation so powerful (it may be the most powerful the world has ever seen) would be entrapped in an exchange with a nation whose priority is to continue to develop nuclear weapons and the rockets and missiles to carry them over the seas. No president should be so easily goaded, but Trump is not your usual head of state. The minutiae of all his bullying takes up much of his time, and he often acts on impulse, which is not the way to conduct any business, especially that of the U.S. Thus, we have preparations for a Roman spectacle of the victorious legions.

Trump may be a little testy about one thing. He must have noted at least during the Republican campaign for the nomination that superpowers are not winning wars anymore and said that the U.S. has to “start winning wars again.” It was likely that he had in mind Vietnam, where the greatest powers in the world suffered a defeat in the decades-long destruction against pajama-clad peasants on bicycles. That can be humiliating, especially since Trump studiously avoided service in that tragic war by seeking deferment after deferment, one of which was for “bone spurs.”

There is one problem with comparing Rome of a few thousand years ago and the U.S. today and that is that the legions went to do battle with armies of somewhat equal power. When they won, if they won, they returned in victory. While Rome had a political system in their realm after the conquests, the legions could return to savor their victories. The U.S. has at least 800 bases around the world and they presumably are staffed by both military and civilian personnel, so it would be a hard choice about which ones should be called to Washington to participate in a Trump military parade.

It might be that the president sees himself as a general (after all, he is the commander-in-chief), and that could be the impetus for his demand for a parade, even though he may not be able to single out one victory on the battlefield. Another thing for General Trump to keep in mind is that, in Roman times, as the general was being carried about the city in his chariot, there was a slave at his ear, whispering, “Remember, you are a mortal.” That’s a hard concept for Trump to digest. By his actions, he shows that he feels he is superior to most human beings and that he may be in some way immortal. It’s a dangerous combination.

Trump might get his military parade, but will anyone show up? Kim can direct a large portion of his 25 million people to show up for his parades. Other dictators have and still can turn out people who want to stay in the good graces of the dear leader. In the U.S., however, a large percentage, if not a great majority of the people, are sick of endless war and the devastation it brings to the people, because the wealth of the country is wasted on weapons, weapons systems, and other “defense” systems and programs, rather than providing for all the things that make life livable for the vast majority of Americans.

Whatever the reason he is demanding a glorious military parade, it will be just another expense in a federal budget that is stretched to the limit and, with his victorious tax cut that benefits the rich rather than wage workers and the poor, he is ensuring that social programs will be put on the back burner for yet another years-long period.

If there is any bright side to a mighty military parade, think of the saloons and breweries that will do a thriving business, if the typical Super Bowl victory parade is any indication. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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Executive Editor:
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