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Everyone Likes a Parade–Maybe

February 9, 2018

The French national anthem, La Marseillaise, celebrates a violent French revolution in 1789 with a call to arms by citizens. Much of the killing in the streets of Paris was organized by Jacobin terrorists. Though the music of La Marseillaise is stirring, and the July 14 Bastille Day military parade in Paris is exciting to watch, the destruction brought to France during the Terror divided France and carried revolutionary ideology to the world.

President Trump’s decision to hold an equivalent military parade on July 4 in Washington, DC has implications far beyond the event, if held.  Let’s hope it is not.

The President’s love of military, gained when he attended New York Military Academy, has led him to militarize his Administration.

Civilian control of the military in the United States is a long tradition going back to the American revolution when a civilian army was fashioned to fight the British. After Independence, resistance to a standing army was intense and only gradually did the United States develop a professional army and navy commensurate to its power.

It became common practice that Cabinet agencies of the federal government were managed by civilians and the National Security Act of 1947 made it a requirement that only civilians could lead the Defense Department.  Service agencies were also required to be led by civilians.

Gradually, however, the appointment of former Generals and Admirals became common practice.  Here is a list.

Ronald Reagan:      Gen. Al Haig, Secretary  of State

Gen. Colin Powell, National Security Council

Bush 41                    Gen. Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor

Bush 43:                   Gen. Colin Powell, Secretary of State

Barack Obama:        Gen. Eric Shinseki, Veterans Affairs

The damn burst with the election of President Donald Trump who exhibits a fondness for former General and Flag Officers.

Donald Trump:         Gen. James N. Mattis, Secretary of Defense

Gen. Michael T. Flynn, first National Security Advisor

Gen. H.R. McMastersecond National Security Advise

Gen. John F. Kelly, Homeland Security and Chief of Staff

With former Generals at Defense, Homeland Security, the National Security Council and now, Brigadier General Mitchell Zais a Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education, not to mention appointment of a retired Navy Seal at the Interior Department, President Trump has abandoned the principle of civilian control.

These appointments conflict with the war weariness of American voters with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Candidate Trump made it clear that he would cease from nation building and wars to make the world democratic. He didn’t tell the voters that he values military expertise and experience over the expertise of civilian professions.

In light of the likelihood that a resolution to Impeach President Trump will pass the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019, we should not take lightly the marshalling of troops to the vicinity of Washington, DC for a grand parade. Trump is not a quitter and faced with Impeachment and the criminal indictment of members of his family, those troops could come in handy.

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