Pinterest for the aspirational autocrat.
In France last summer, Donald Trump saw a parade. Now, in true Trump fashion, he wants one of his own.
Back before he called members of Congress who refused to clap for him "treasonous," Trump traveled to France at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron to take in the country's annual Bastille Day military parade. There was pomp, circumstance, and of course, a bunch of big guns that go boom. Trump was thrilled, publicly talking about how much fun he had months later — but that's not all. According to a report in the Washington Post, he's been privately obsessing over the idea of ordering the military to throw him the same sort of parade, right here in Washington.
"The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France," the Post quotes a military official.
Trump and Macron watch the 2017 Bastille Day parade in France. Photo by Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images.
There's a big difference between the Bastille Day parade and whatever it is that Trump wants for himself — namely, tradition.
The Bastille Day parade dates back to 1880 and has a rich tradition. While it is heavily intertwined with the country's military, it's not in itself intended as a display of toughness or signal of warning to other countries. At the United Nations General Assembly in September, however, Trump spoke about how the parade was such a great show of "military might," pledging to top it. In other words, he completely missed the point.
Macron listens while Trump gushes over the Bastille Day parade — more than two months afterward. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.
In fairness to Trump, there's actually a really long history of world leaders obsessed with demonstrating "military might" by way of parade — and they're not exactly as chill as Macron.
Check out a few highlights below.
Hitler and Stalin were both big fans of military parades.
Adolf Hitler salutes soldiers at a Nazi parade in Nuremberg in 1938. Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.
In May 1947, these Heavy artillery are on parade during a review of the Moscow Garrison troops in the May Day celebrations at Red Square. Photo by N. Sitnikov/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
Saddam Hussein considered himself a bit of a parade connoisseur as well.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein watching a military parade in 2000. Photo by Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images.
Iraqi tanks roll through the streets of Baghdad in December 2000. Photo by Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images.
A 1999 photo shows members of China's People's Liberation Army passing in front of Tianamen Square. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.
An Iranian surface-to-surface missile rides past a photo of Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a 2008 parade. Photo by Majid/Getty Images.
This 1965 photo, taken in Havana, depicts the celebration of the sixth anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
Hosni Mubarak watches Egyptian soldiers march outside Cairo in 1998. Photo by Amr Nabil/AFP/Getty Images.
In 2013, Malaysian military tanks roll down the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Photo by Mohd RasfanAFP/Getty Images.
Guinean soldiers ride along the streets of Conakry in 2013. Photo by Cellou Binani/AFP/Getty Images.
Greek soldiers celebrate "Oxi" Day in 2014. Photo by Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images.
Here's a look at Myanmar soldiers celebrating their Independence Day in 2015. Photo by Soe Than Win/AFP/Getty Images.
Indian military personnel tanks parade through New Delhi in 2014. Photo by Raveendran/AFP/Getty Images.
Members of the Pakistani military drive tanks in a 2015 parade. Photo by Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images.
Russian tanks roll through Minsk during a World War II victory parade, in 2015. Photo by Host photo agency/RIA Novosti, via Getty Images.
Sri Lankan army tanks parade during the country's 68th Independence Day celebration in 2015. Photo by Lakruwan WanniarachchiAFP/Getty Images.
And be sure to remember Lebanon, Belarus, Nicaragua, Romania, and finally, "little rocket man" himself, Kim Jong Un in North Korea.
A Lebanese M60 tank drives in a military parade in Beirut in 2016. Photo by Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images.
Balarus soldiers participate in the country's annual Independence Day parade in 2017. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.
Nicaraguan soldiers ride T-72 tanks during a 2017 parade. Photo by Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images.
Romanian tanks participate in a military parade to celebrate the National Day of Romania in 2017. Photo by Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images.
Members of the North Korean People's Army ride tanks through Pyongyang as a show of strength in 2017. Photo by Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images.
If these types of parades all seem like a huge waste of time, energy, and money in a purportedly democratic nation like ours, that's because they are.
Throwing parades to demonstrate "military might" seems to be a common thread among insecure male world leaders desperate to prove the size of their "gun" is bigger than their rival's. The last time the U.S. held a military parade of any sort was in 1991 when soldiers returned home to declare victory following the Gulf War. The cost that time around, according to The New York Times, was about $12 million, with $7 million paid with federal funds.
There's little doubt Trump's proposed parade would be even more expensive.
Another concern people are already bringing up is the effect that rolling a bunch of 70-ton tanks down Pennsylvania Avenue might have on the roads themselves. The Washington Post suggests that Trump will try to frame this as a show of appreciation for our military, but when you consider that his rationale for trying to ban transgender troops from joining the military was the "tremendous medical costs" and realize that the cost of this parade (assuming it runs on roughly the same budget as the 1991 edition) would exceed even the top-end estimates of what trans people actually cost the military or that he once brushed off criticism over a fallen soldier by saying "he knew what he signed up for," it becomes clear this isn't about showing support for troops at all. It's about throwing himself a big proto-authoritarian party.
No, Trump's occasionally authoritarian musings don't make him equivalent with any of the countries or leaders in the list above, but it's becoming inarguable to suggest that he doesn't share a bit of their autocratic flair.