Donald Trump

DC Mayor: ‘Just Like the Wall,' Trump Would Have to Pay for Military Parade

"Tanks but No Tanks," the D.C. Council tweeted

President Donald Trump has asked the Pentagon to plan a grand military parade this year in Washington, D.C., but the plan is getting panned by the city's mayor, city council and delegate to the U.S. House. 

The Trump administration, not D.C., would have to foot the bill for a lavish parade on city streets, Mayor Muriel Bowser's office said Wednesday morning.

A spokeswoman for the mayor said Bowser's office is tracking media reports about a parade ahead of being contacted by federal officials. 

"In the meantime, we do know that just like the wall, he will have to pay for it," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

The director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, Chris Rodriguez, said the agency had not been contacted by the White House or Pentagon to discuss logistics. 

"Tanks but No Tanks," the D.C. Council tweeted, along with a link to The Washington Post story that broke news of the parade plans. Another tweet to the Council account showed a tank with a red "no" symbol.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton called for the federal government to devote money to veterans' health care, not a showy parade. 

"A military parade in DC would shut down the nation's capital and waste taxpayer dollars just to feed Trump's ego," she said in a tweet. 

"It makes it look like one of those totalitarian states to me," former mayor Vincent Gray said. "I don't see the purpose of it." 

D.C. residents overwhelming voted against Trump; the president won just 4 percent of the vote.

Some people in D.C. on Wednesday said they would love to see a military parade.

"Why not be proud of our military, for the men and women that fight for us every day?" Zachary Sparkman, a visitor to the U.S. Navy Memorial said. "I'd love it."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump wants the Pentagon to "explore a celebration" that will allow Americans to show appreciation for the military.

Pentagon officials are aware of the request and are "looking at options," Pentagon spokesman Charlie Summers said. No date has been selected.

On Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin called the plan a "fantastic waste of money to amuse the president."

White House legislative director Marc Short said it's too early to know how much the parade would cost.

"I'm not sure honoring the military is a waste of money," he said.

Muscular military parades of the kind that are common in authoritarian countries like China and North Korea are not quintessentially American. The U.S. traditionally has not embraced showy displays of raw military power, such as North Korea's parading of ballistic missiles as a claim of international prestige and influence.

U.S. military members commonly participate in parades on the Fourth of July and other holidays to mark appreciation and remembrance of military veterans, but these typically do not include gaudy displays of military hardware.

In her brief comment on Trump's order to the Pentagon, Sanders did not elaborate on what sort of event he envisions.

The last large-scale military parade in the U.S. was held in 1991, after Operation Desert Storm. Street lights were removed so tanks could rumble down streets. The 67-ton vehicles left tread marks in the asphalt on Constitution Avenue, The Washington Post reported at the time.

The parade cost $12 million, the Los Angeles Times reported. Adjusted for inflation, that's more than $21 million in today's dollars.

Although Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has not commented publicly on the idea of a Washington military parade, the idea is not an obvious fit with his emphasis on focusing strictly, if not exclusively, on military activities that either improve the lethality of the armed forces or enhance their preparation for combat, or both.

The Post report said a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump, Mattis and top generals at the Pentagon marked a tipping point in Trump's push for a parade. It quoted an unidentified military official as saying, "The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France.'' It was thus interpreted as a presidential order, the Post said, adding that the cost of shipping tanks and other military hardware to Washington could run in the millions of dollars.

The Post also reported that the Pentagon would prefer to hold such a parade on Veteran's Day in November, in part because it would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the victorious end of World War I. It would thus be less directly associated with the president and politics, the Post said.

John Kirby, a retired Navy rear admiral and former spokesman for the State Department and the Pentagon, reposted on Twitter Tuesday night an article he wrote for CNN's website last summer after Trump mentioned he had been dazzled by the Paris parade. Kirby said a big military parade in Washington is a bad idea.

"First of all, the United States doesn't need a parade down Pennsylvania or any other avenue to show our military strength,'' he wrote. "We do that every day in virtually every clime all over the world."

It has long been conventional wisdom that the U.S. does not need to boast of its military strength because it already is recognized as the leader of the NATO alliance and a model of military professionalism that countries across the global seek to emulate.

Last September, at a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump announced his idea of staging a grand parade of the armed forces in Washington on July 4.

Trump reminisced about watching France's Bastille Day military parade when he visited Paris in July. He said the two-hour parade was a "tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France," and said he wanted one on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington that would be grander than the one he saw in Paris.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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