Trump’s 4th Of July Military Parade of Tanks Draws Dictator Comparisons
“The president is using the armed forces in a political ploy for his reelection campaign and I think it’s absolutely obscene.”
President Trump’s “Salute to America” 4th of July spectacle will feature tanks and military flyovers alongside an address by the commander-in-chief at the Lincoln Memorial, drawing criticism not only from watchdogs distressed by the abuse of public resources but also service members concerned by the politicization of the military.
“The cost of our great Salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth. We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel. We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats. Nice!” tweeted President Trump.
The White House has yet to provide an exact figure for the cost of the event, but the Washington Post reported on Tuesday that $2.5 million from National Park Service will be diverted to help pay for the event, covering only part of the total cost.
“The Department of the Interior is committed to providing the American people a fantastic celebration of our nation’s birthday. We are doing so consistent with the Department’s mission and historical practices. We hope everyone enjoys the Fourth,” National Park Service spokesman Jeremy Barnum said in a statement.
Critics argue the diversion of taxpayer funds intended for the maintenance of national parks is particularly concerning in light of the politicized nature of the event. The Republican National Committee has reportedly given out VIP tickets to Trump’s political allies and major donors, giving the event a highly partisan atmosphere.
Trump’s address will mark the first time a U.S. president speaks at Washington DC’s 4th of July event in decades, prompting some city residents to organize boycotts.
An Authoritarian Military Parade?
Critics argue military parades are reminiscent of authoritarian dictatorships like China or North Korea, and inappropriate for a day usually celebrated by family barbecues and fireworks. According to the New York Times, multiple Defense Department officials anonymously described their discomfort with the event, while numerous others publicly expressed their disapproval.
“This looks like it’s becoming much more of a Republican Party event — a political event about the president — than a national celebration of the Fourth of July, and it’s unfortunate to have the military smack dab in the middle of that,” said retired Army Lt. Gen. David Barno, who served in Afghanistan under President George W. Bush.
“The president is using the armed forces in a political ploy for his reelection campaign and I think it’s absolutely obscene,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. William Nash, a veteran of Vietnam, the Gulf War and peacekeeping operations in the Balkans, according to Politico.
Loren Delonge Shulman, a senior Defense Department official during the Obama administration, told the New York Times that the Trump administration is giving an inaccurate portrayal of Pentagon’s support for the parade.
“They owe it to the American people to correct the record,” Schulman told the Times. “The parade is clearly about glorifying the president.”
Far-right and anti-fascist groups will both be attending the event, increasing fears of political violence in the wake of clashes in Portland on Saturday.