Word is Donald Trump wants a giant military parade – artillery, armored vehicles, missile launchers bigger than the North Koreans and thousands of soldiers, sailors and marines marching down Pennsylvania Ave, probably with flyovers of his favorite Air Force plane, the mythical F-52 fighter from the Call of Duty video game. Predictably a chorus of Democrats along with CNN and MSNBC panned the idea.
Their reasons are all sensible enough. It would cost tens of millions to bring all those troops and hardware to the nation’s capital. Furthermore, neither DC city streets nor the roads leading to them are designed for armored vehicles, tanks and their carriers. But most of all, Democrats practically whine, while the US is bombing six or seven countries, deploys drones and special forces across vast stretches of Africa and the Middle East, has submarines and fleets in all seven seas, with bases, troops and hardware in over a hundred countries, domestic displays of US military might are kind of, well, un-American.
But if that’s not a contradiction, fat meat might not be greasy after all. And it’s not the only one.
The same Democrats who think a military parade on Pennsylvania Avenue is bad form not two months ago voted to give Donald Trump’s Pentagon even more than the obscene amount of money he asked for. The same Democrats who wore kente cloth to or boycotted the State of the Union last week because Trump called African and Caribbean nations shitholes cannot find their voices to object to America’s bombing of Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Somalia, or to US military provocations against China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, or its blockades of Eritrea and Venezuela. American military flexing, it seems is perfectly OK as long as it’s done overseas, and preferably though not necessarily by a Democrat.
Since Vietnam, the last war in which Americans were drafted into the army, the Pentagon’s long term strategy has been to make the nation’s gargantuan military machine and its wars as distant from the public as possible. This helps explain why there hasn’t been a march on the Pentagon since 1968. But Donald Trump doesn’t make long term plans. He seems to want a giant chest thumping our-missiles-are-bigger-than-yours military spectacle to boost his own popularity among the base that elected him – disaffected white Americans who blame blacks, Mexicans, women queers and foreigners for their own economic insecurity. His military parade will do some of that.
But it’ll also draw attention to the fact that America’s massive war expenditures are starving schools and libraries, housing and transit infrastructure, warping what teachers teach and what students learn. At $900 million plus apiece, every F-35 fighter is worth a small hospital. At $13 billion apiece an aircraft carrier without the aircraft is worth a dozen bus factories or half a dozen water and sewer and sewer systems for a city of 200,000. While public roads are privatized, and public schools can’t afford fast internet, teacher salaries or heat in their overcrowded classrooms, the US military maintains a thousand overseas bases on six continents and its own satellite network.
Unless there’s a Republican in the White House, Democrats rarely if ever protest against any US wars. Let’s see how many Democrats show up to protest Trump’s military parade, if he has it. And let’s see how many of them show up for the Women’s March on the Pentagon the month before, on October 21, 2018. We’ll see you there.
For Black Agenda Report I’m Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.