Trump brings his tanks to 4th of July imperial infomercial

Trump brings his tanks to 4th of July imperial infomercial
Comment: The president has turned Washington’s annual 4 July celebration into a Trump-branded rally with his military wares on show, writes Wilson Dizard.
6 min read
04 Jul, 2019
US military might will be on display as Trump speaks at the Lincoln Memorial [AFP]
There have been military parades in Washington in the past, plenty of them. 

But none have been the subject of such deriding memes that the images from today are likely to become, hanging around online for years and years to come.

For Trump, this is an infomercial. These are weapons he thinks "he" can sell, as the first instinct of corruption in politics is thinking that public service should be a lucrative business. Trump must be hypnotised by the dollar amounts Washington works in, hundreds of billions, trillions even. 

While it might sound funny to think of Trump's half-baked infomercial for military hardware, it actually belies a horrifying truth about the carnage wrought by these products, very much made in America.

Trump sees the deaths of 85,000 Yemeni children as being worth some made up figure of American jobs. 

He is wary of sending Americans overseas to fight wars with Muslims, but he is happy to profit off Muslims killing each other. In this sense, Trump is just another brand of neoconservative, who sees a "bright side" to colonialism. 

Of course, Trump cannot have a parade featuring the real MVPs of American hard power: Cyberweapons.

Trump sees the deaths of 85,000 Yemeni children as being worth some made up figure of American jobs

They are inscrutable to the public, which includes Congress, who are civilians elected by civilians to understand computer science.

Although they may just be ambitious, personally wealthy lawyers who can afford to run for office, they are now constitutionally obligated to understand top secret spells they cannot legally explain to the public. But the US has already
launched one at Iran, in its ongoing hybrid war against Tehran.

The public, however, pays for the development of this battle magic without ever being explained what it does. Perhaps, next year on the 4 July, Trump could have a stoic American "cyberwarrior" sitting at a desk chair holding a memory stick triumphantly. They could roll him down Independence Avenue, to cheers. 

There was a time, of course, when life was not so persistently menacing in its swirling absurdity. There was a time when all weapons were at least visible.  

When I was a kid, I once asked my dad why the United States has an army. 

"So people don't take our stuff," he replied, succinctly.

Although quite capable of expounding on the philosophical schools and doctrines of US foreign policy, my dad narrowed down the essential purpose of any military in any country. The threat of deadly force is the ultimate guarantor of sovereignty, just as much as 2+2 equals 4. These are just the facts of life.

All this happened in about 1997, when it was theoretically possible to assume that the US military's job now was to protect the territorial integrity of the United States and its taxpayers' property, and also scare off anyone who would try to challenge our military hegemony. 

Now that the Cold War was over, there was no conceivable reason for the US to embark on military adventures abroad. Back then, it seemed as though globalisation was going to happen with the US unmatched by any military power.

He is wary of sending Americans overseas to fight wars with Muslims, but he is happy to profit off Muslims killing each other

But in the 2000s, the world would learn of the sudden seizure and occupation of two other countries by people in Washington who imagined they could build another "American century" on the bodies of bad guys.

These were Ivy League graduates with godlike power over nuclear weapons, but theirs was the logic of an action movie script. At the end of an action movie, good triumphs over evil with the killing of the evildoers. But history isn't a movie.

Trump and the neocons share this in common, in a sense. Both of the neocons and Trump understand warfare mostly from watching it happen on television.

This has been the case now for generations of US foreign policy makers. When their brains dream, they process scenarios in the future based on moving images they had seen in the past.

A member of the CodePink group poses in front a 'Bradley Fighting Vehicle' ahead of the
'Salute to America' rally [AFP]

That's why neocons could convince themselves that the US had the capacity to do to Iraq what it had done to Germany and Japan. Indeed, in a sense, American foreign policy makers brainwashed themselves into thinking the Iraq War would be remembered as a wise move by future generations.

The mind recoils to think what kind of images Trump's brain pulls in from the media he consumes. But the stunts he pulls, like his military parade, show how he thinks about business.

A prospective buyer can look through a list of products, and pick one.

The deal is a con job, of course, because he is fine with selling weapons to brown people to kill other brown people, especially poor ones who can't buy anything he sells anyway.

Read more: Trump goes full Sisi with 4th July Independence Day military parade

What the countries on Trump's Muslim ban list have in common is not just that they are Muslim-majority, but that they are some of the poorest Muslim-majority countries. The richest Muslim countries never had to worry about the ban, which is still in effect for Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Under Trump's vision of American imperialism, other countries need to be able to pay protection money to avoid Trump's wrath. Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen could not.

Some Muslim countries with ties to Trump and his family already could expect a reprieve, and waivers for their allies, especially since they had been so generous in purchasing American-made military hardware, the kind on display today.

US policy makers brainwashed themselves into thinking the Iraq War would be remembered as a wise move

Protection money to Trump's shamelessly gangsterish foreign policy can be paid in purchases of American-made weaponry. Conveniently, Trump regularly holds informercials about these products, and this 4th of July is no different. He thinks he can divert $2.5 million in Park Service funds and get back $500 billion in more purchases of US jets, tanks.

And somewhere Trump will be able to get a cut in the form of a hefty campaign donation from the aerospace industry, which would be abrogating its responsibility to its shareholders, collectively, if it did not try to get Trump's attention with the customary legal bribe afforded presidential candidates.

Railing against this morally bankrupt system is how Trump won his presidency, but he shows no interest in passing up its benefits, and he is doing so with a nihilistic zeal. 

The takeaway in most editorial pages is that Trump is a pathetic narcissist politicising the military to feed his own self image. And of course, that's true.

But what is lost on most pundits is the effect of this kind of corruption on human lives around the world.

The US Constitution was in need of amendment before Trump shred it.

Those institutions are capable of repair and reform, but the lives of human beings cannot be restored once lost.

To Trump's administration, those lost lives don't matter if there is money to be made. And the American president is enthusiastically selling weapons to Muslims so they can kill each other in horrific ways, and hoping to make money himself in the process. 

That's what infomercials are for.

Wilson Dizard is a reporter and photojournalist covering politics, media and culture. He enjoys bicycling. 

Follow him on Twitter: @willdizard

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.