Trump’s Military Parade: Tomfoolery or Genius Strategy?

By Ryan Love | United States

Kim Jong Un has a nuclear button, we have a bigger one (and it works). Kim Jong Un has a military parade, and soon America will as well.

Recently, President Trump declared to the Pentagon and Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis that he wanted a grand military parade. Aside from Trump’s typical bombastic style and reality TV flair, I think there is a more nuanced strategy at play.

Trump wants to keep the pressure on North Korea and America’s competitors across the globe. For years, we have heard of the vast might of the US military. Of course, it is true that we outspend and certainly have the capacity to out-maneuver any other military. But as the old saying goes, seeing is believing.

In recent months, North Korea has threatened many countries with nuclear war. The Chinese have also increased their influence. Yet, the parade will serve as an easy way to remind both of them who the top dog really is. This type of brash behavior has actually been quite effective in deterring North Korea’s saber rattling.

After months of back and forth from both President Trump and Kim Jong Un, Un backed down. Just last month, he agreed to talks with South Korea for the first time in many years. President Moon of South Korea even credited President Trump with helping to bring the two sides together.

How exactly did Trump manage such a feat? After all, neither Obama nor Bush or even Clinton could manage to curtail the rise of the North Korean nuclear regime. The answer relies on a foreign policy strategy developed by Richard Nixon.

The madman theory postulates you should never allow anyone to fully grasp the reasoning behind your foreign policy decisions. Why tweet out about our nuclear button? Why a military parade? Where Obama was predictable, Trump is anything but. Un knew Obama would never risk conflict, but Trump, on the other hand? He can’t be too certain.

In the event of a war between the US and North Korea, North Korea knows it faces certain annihilation. The military parade will show Un exactly what America has to fight with, should he declare war.

The parade also has a particular affect when it comes to North Korea. North Korea, long known for their grandiose military displays, will find themselves in the odd predicament of seeing a parade far more grand than their own.

Likewise, China will be reminded that, although a rising power, they are nowhere near the military might of the United States. China may one day come to outpace the United State’s economically, but they are a long way off from even threatening the United States militarily. What better way to remind China of this fact than to show them the full weight of the United States military?

Ultimately, some may view the military parade as obnoxious, or even dangerous. However, the strategic benefit from the foreign policy mad man certainly outweighs this. Talk is cheap. Seeing is believing. The whole world will be watching, and President Trump knows this.

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