Inspired by France's National Day celebrations last summer, where he was the guest of the French President Emmanuel Macron, United States President Donald Trump now wants to display his country's military prowess. Trump has given orders to officials at the Pentagon to plan a grand military parade as a “celebration of the men and women who give us freedom," Pentagon spokesman, Charlie Summers said in a statement Tuesday.
"It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen," Trump had told the reporters. “It was two hours on the button, and it was military might, and I think a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France," the Washington Post reported.
"We are aware of the request and are looking at possible dates," Charlie Summers, a Pentagon spokesman, told NBC News.
"The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France," a military official told the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military."
Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern has called the idea "an absurd waste of money," according to an article published by the South China Morning Post. He added: "Trump acts more like dictator than president. Americans deserve better.”
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018; a defense bill, which will pump nearly US$634 billion in Pentagon operations in the 2018 fiscal year. The bill proposed about US$66 billion be spent on U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other countries.
Citing North Korea as a threat, with the additional spending, the military will add more ships, aircraft, and troops. Part of the bill is also supposed to strengthen the missile technology against North Korea.
According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, U.S. military spending will be three times that of China and ten times more than Russia.
According to a White House official, the plan is still in "brainstorming" stages. "Right now, there’s really no meat on the bones," the official told the Washington Post. But NBC News cited Nov. 11 as a possible date, which is the Veteran Day. The White House is trying to avoid linking Trump's association with the military parade and have suggested Veteran Day, which also in part marks the hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I.
Critics are also concerned that the military parade might signify overt nationalism, the Hill reported. A parade "smacks of something you see in a totalitarian country," Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University, told the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Tuesday night, "President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation."
In January, last year, the newly appointed Trump administration was contemplating having a "Red Square/North Korea-style parade" for the inauguration, a source revealed to the Huffington Post.
While Trump had said in an interview with the Washington Post before the inauguration: "We’re going to show the people as we build up our military,” adding “That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military."