Date
14 October 2019
Donald Trump is seen with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford (extreme right) in this picture taken during the ‘Salute to America’ event in Washington on July 4. Credit: Reuters
Donald Trump is seen with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford (extreme right) in this picture taken during the ‘Salute to America’ event in Washington on July 4. Credit: Reuters

Why Trump’s July 4 military parade is worrying

On July 4, US President Donald Trump finally fulfilled his dream of having a military parade in his capacity as the commander-in-chief of the nation’s armed forces.

Ever since he witnessed a Bastille Day military parade in France in 2017, Trump had longed to stage a similar event in Washington.

Although Trump finally had his dream come true, his “Salute to America” military parade on the US Independence Day triggered a substantial backlash among the Democrats and the American public and put him in the firing line.

Meanwhile, several Pentagon officials have also quietly voiced reservations, media reports indicated.

The reason is that for centuries, it has remained a strictly followed tradition that the president will keep a low profile on Independence Day and allow the public and local governments to take center stage in celebrating the occasion.

Now, by staging a military parade in which he was the focus of public and media attention, Trump, who has declared his aim to seek a second term in office, has left himself open to the charge of using public money in order to boost his popularity.

Worse still, Trump’s move has taken a toll on the long-standing political impartiality of the military.

Under the existing US law and military rules, military officials in active duty are strictly forbidden to get involved in partisan politics or to publicly root for any candidate in elections.

But now with some military leaders standing next to Trump at the parade, including Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the generals appeared on TV as if they were cheerleaders for Trump’s campaign

If Trump gets re-elected next year, he is likely to work more aggressively in facilitating policy initiatives under which everything would be taking a backseat to personal or partisan political interests.

And dissenting voices and political ethics, as well as the principle of checks and balances, would be brushed aside, setting the US society on a course towards further polarization in terms of being pro or anti-Trump.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 6

Translation by Alan Lee 

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal