Trump wants tanks in a parade.
Looked at from strictly an engineering standpoint, tanks are cool: big hunks of metal that can move very fast, shoot things, and can endure a fair amount of being shot at. They’re battleships on land. They are a combination of mobility and firepower. In his very funny book, Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man, Tim Allen writes about the appeal, when he describes his imaginary men’s theme park, where first you build things using cool tools, called Constructionland, then advance to Destructionland, where you get to destroy what you just built, using among other things, tanks:
In Destructionland, a.k.a Militaryland, men get to use all that Army stuff: machine guns, howitzers, tanks. Only this time, they’re real. Remember that bridge you built? Blow it up!
My wife would never get inside a tank: “It’s so hot in here, it’s so cramped. You like this? This is fun for you?”
Every man would be thinking something else entirely: “Will this go through that wall?” Soon you’re going over a hill at full speed while the barrel’s going sideways, firing hot steel.
“Is this the only color? Is it drafty in here? It’s so musty? What’s that diesel smell?”
There’s nothing wrong with tanks, per se, except that they are weapons for war, and war is a problem.
Among the branches of the U.S. Army, tanks belong to the armor branch. When my father graduated from West Point in 1946, he had to choose what branch of the Army he wanted to serve. At that time (I believe) the branches were infantry, armor, artillery, air corps, and signals. My guess is because he was 6’6” (198 cm) tall, neither infantry (he would be a really big target) nor armor (how to fit in that tank?) were desirable, so he ended up in artillery. Among other things, he worked with Nike missiles and nuclear weapons.
Trump never served in the military. He had a number of college deferments and one medical deferment. He may have had some help in all this. He had plenty of company in avoiding Viet-Nam; Bolton, Cheney, Bush43, and Clinton. The idea of serving a cause beyond himself was and is anathema to Trump—what was in it for him?
On Saturday, July 18th, 2015, Donald Trump said this about John McCain:
He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.
People who do a lot of public speaking every now and then misspeak, slip up, get something wrong. That’s fine. That’s not what happened here. Pay attention to that last sentence, and who the target was. The source of this statement is not a gaff or a slip. Its source is something foul, putrid meat jiggling its cakehole, because it has no other quality. It takes a certain kind of person to say something like this.
Like so many neocons, like—here come all the same names again—Bush43, Cheney, no doubt some Democrats, and that piece of work Bolton, Trump is a chickenhawk, a paper tiger. None of these ever suffer the consequences of any of their decisions, especially military ones. Bolton is especially interesting. Rumor has it at night he dresses up like Wyatt Earp (a la mode Kevin Costner) and envisions himself in a shoot out, the toughest hombre in town. Afterwards he teases, combs, waxes, then fondles his moustache.
It seems Trump will be speaking in front of the Lincoln Memorial. I prefer the style of Jefferson Memorial, myself, but Lincoln himself remains incomparable. In 1862 Lincoln said:
The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves.
At the time of this writing, about 2100 hours Central European Time on July 4th, 2019, Trump just tweated about a House representative who decided to leave the Republican party:
Great news for the Republican Party as one of the dumbest & most disloyal men [Justin Amash] in Congress is “quitting” the Party. No Collusion, No Obstruction. Knew he couldn’t get the nomination to run again in the Great State of Michigan. Already being challenged for his seat. A total loser!
In the good book it says a tree is known by the fruit it bears. The man is known by the tweets he types.
But this particular representative should feel good. To paraphrase Freud: Trump as your enemy, much honor.
Politicians should stay away from tanks. Two examples. Mussolini’s proximity to tanks made him think he was a descendant of Scipio Africanus1See photograph here.. Dukkakais thought riding around in a tank made him look tough.
In the last forty years, the United States has become an increasingly evangelical and militarized country. More and more the government enables and protects business and industry, the rich and powerful; the rest of us, which is nearly all of us, are a secondary or tertiary consideration. More and more the country is involved in overseas conflicts, the primary beneficiaries being those who supply the material for this involvements or might have a stake in the resources of the target country.
I grew up on Army bases (Kansas, Texas, Virginia) and was used to seeing military paraphernalia. And certainly around Washington, D.C. there are a number of military installations: Fort Belvoir, Andrews Air Force Base, including the Pentagon, just across the Potomac River in Virginia. Yet within the city itself, among the government offices, museums, and memorials, even the military related memorials are human focused, not weapon focused. There’s something fundamentally wrong tanks parading on the streets of Washington, D.C., something more akin to a North Korean military parade showcasing the latest missile. The glorification of weapons and war is disturbing.
On this July 4th I’ve found myself thinking about tanks and parades. I’ve been thinking about the lone protestor, known as Tank Man, who on June 5, 1989, stood in front a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square. I’ve been pondering Ferris Bueller. Will one or the other show up during Trump’s parade? We need them both.