One report in the Hill Newspaper suggested that Team Donald Trump wanted tanks and missile launchers included in the inaugural parade. The military shot the idea down, noting that the grade of Pennsylvania Avenue would not bear the weight of the vehicles. However, there were flyovers of military jets planned.

Inevitably some commentators sniffed that having all of that military hardware in a parade smacked of things that happen in Red Square and might be inappropriate for an American parade. The suggestion seemed to be so Soviet in its nature that it would be an obnoxious spectacle.

But the idea was not without examples in American history. The 1941 Franklin Roosevelt inaugural parade, done in the shadow of World War II, did include some tanks and other pieces of military equipment. The 1953 Eisenhower inaugural parade included a 288 millimeter cannon designed to fire an atomic shell.

In the first case, Roosevelt was sending a message that the United States was prepared for war, if need be, though at that time the official policy was neutrality. In the second case, Eisenhower, no slouch where it came to waging war, was sending a message to the Soviets that he would not be someone to be trifled with during the height of the Cold War. Fortunately, in the latter case, the warning did not have to be followed up with action.

It is likely that the Trump people meant to send a similar message to Americans numerous enemies in the modern age, ISIS, China, Iran, and even Russia, though Trump still harbors hope of a modern day détente with Vladimir Putin.

However, because of the realities of how heavy tanks and missile launchers are and the political optics of too many military vehicles in an inaugural parade, the visual message was absent.

Trump is just going to have to send a message to the enemies of the American Republic with deeds.

In any case, the Trump presidency is going to feature, among so many things, a shift in how military force is used. How that new policy will impact the course of history is yet to be seen.

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