SHARE
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard marches in a Memorial Day Parade. Image via Scott M. Ash/Air Force/AF.mil

The former Navy SEAL who claims to have killed Osama bin Laden called President Donald Trump’s proposed military parade “third world bullshit.”

Senior Petty Chief Robert J. O’Neill, a former SEAL and participant in the raid on bin Laden’s Abbottabad complex, lashed out against the commander-in-chief Thursday. Writing over Twitter, O’Neill’s controversial statement stirred up some surprise over social media.

Some users wondered whether the SEAL considered France a “third-world country,” despite its strong military and stable economy.

While O’Neill defended his statements, there’s no denying that Trump’s inspiration for an ornate procession came from his travels abroad. The president was so impressed by a Bastille Day parade he saw in France that he immediately asked advisers whether a similar show could be hosted in the United States.

“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” a military official told the Washington Post. And unlike many of President Trump’s far-fetched plans, the ball on this one may already be rolling.

Plans for a procession are apparently in the “early discussion phases,” according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis lent credence to what Sanders said Wednesday, saying the Pentagon was “putting together some options” for a 4th of July parade. According to Mattis, Trump’s desire to emulate the French emanates from a deep place of “fondness” for American troops.

“I think we’re all aware in this country of the president’s affection and respect for the military,” said Mattis. “We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them up to the White House for decision.”

But not everyone supports the commander-in-chief’s insistence on an annual show of force. Democrats in particular have been critical, suggesting that a large-scale military parade sends mixed signals about America’s commitment to its constitution.

Rows of tanks and goose-stepping soldiers are, after all, rather reminiscent of the world’s more authoritarian regimes. While the French and Russians have longstanding traditions – Bastille Day in Paris and Victory Day in Moscow – the United States hasn’t hosted a similar scene since George H. W. Bush declared victory in the First Gulf War.

Responding to such concerns, Sanders stressed that any event is only in the “early discussion phases.”

“We haven’t made a final decision,” she said. “We’re simply exploring options.”

Addressing liberal concerns, she added that a parade would “highlight and show the pride in our military.”

Politico.com notes that Trump had nothing but praise for the French procession on Bastille Day, with the president saying it must be a “tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France.”

“And people don’t know what greater warriors they are in France, but when you see that and you see all the victories, it was a tremendous thing,” marveled the president.

Sources

Navy SEAL who says he killed Bin Laden calls Trump’s military parade “bullshit”

White House: Military parade in ‘early discussion phases’

Join the Discussion