You only had to see him goggle eyed and enthusiastic beside France’s President Emmanuel Macron last Bastille Day. The tricolours were fluttering, the jets booming above in the manner usual for a lapsed empire, and the President of the United States was thrilled to bits, delighted at the spectacle. “It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen. We’re going to have to try and top it.”
Donald Trump wetting himself over a military parade in another country was one thing. That he is now attempting to bring that experience back to the United States has local policy figures in a fix. According to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, the president “has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”
The good citizens of the United States have tended to associate such military affairs with the goosestepping types, eyes glazed and bayonets erect with purpose before authoritarian clowns. Only foreign types, unmoved by the impulse of American liberty, engage in that sort of thing.
In some ways, having such a parade would be a natural order for a power that remains in denial about its imperial pedigree, bastard or otherwise. There is a near pathological preference to live in the bright delusional light of free world defender of peace. “As distinct from other peoples,” wrote the late Chalmers Johnson, that keen student of US empire and its consequences, “most Americans do…