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Donald Trump

Trump will get his military parade courtesy of the Pentagon, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis confirms

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 February, 2018, 10:04am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 February, 2018, 3:38am

US President Donald Trump will get military parade he has asked for courtesy of new Pentagon proposals, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday.

“We’re all aware in this country of the president’s affection and respect for the military. We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them up to the White House for a decision,” Mattis told reporters at a White House briefing.

The president’s request, which was confirmed by the White House on Tuesday, is an unconventional move that would showcase American muscle and underscore his role as commander-in-chief.

Trump – who toyed with the idea of a parade in Washington since before being sworn in – made the request to top officers.

The Washington Post, which was first to report the plan, said on Tuesday that Trump wants an elaborate parade to be held this year with soldiers marching and tanks rolling, but that no date has been selected.

“President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Tuesday

“He has asked the Department of Defence to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”

The Pentagon confirmed it was “in the process of determining specific details.”

Trump’s new request immediately fuelled comparisons to similar events in more autocratic countries.

“What an absurd waste of money! Trump acts more like dictator than president. Americans deserve better,” said Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern.

The Washington Post 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 report said, adding that the cost of shipping tanks and other military hardware to Washington could run in the millions of dollars.

When Trump visited Paris in July for Bastille Day, he made no secret of his awe for the pomp and ceremony of the occasion.

Sitting on the Champs-Elysees, he marvelled at the Republican Guard on horseback and jets flying overhead, and greeted President Emmanuel Macron, who arrived in an open-topped camouflaged military jeep.

Months earlier, aides confided that Trump had considered a military parade to mark his inauguration, but the idea was eventually scrapped.

Trump has already prompted fears about his respect for democratic freedoms once this week by suggesting Democrats were “un-American” and “treasonous” for not applauding his State of the Union address.

The White House claimed Trump was joking.

“The president was clearly joking with his comments, but what isn’t a joke is that Democrats refuse to celebrate the accomplishments of last year that have helped all Americans,” Sanders said.

But the quip did not go down well with lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats.

“I have seen the president’s most ardent defenders use the now-weary argument that the president’s comments were meant as a joke, just sarcasm, only tongue in cheek,” said Republican Senator Jeff Flake.

“But treason is not a punchline, Mr President.”

Military veteran and Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth also fired back at Trump, while lampooning his deferments from medical military service during the Vietnam War.

“We don’t live in a dictatorship or a monarchy,” she said.

“I swore an oath – in the military and in the Senate – to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press and Reuters