The general, America’s most senior military officer, was asked for his view of the parade while in Bangkok, as he emerged from a meeting with the Thai defence minister. Ramrod-straight in his four-star marine general’s uniform, the chairman replied: “I’m aware of the President’s request. We are in the initial stages of planning.” Pressed for more, the general offered the same reply a second time.
Your reporter is travelling with General Dunford, as one of four journalists covering a tour of American bases and allies in the Asia-Pacific. The mood, generally, on this eight-day marathon is best described as briskly, soberly efficient. Your blogger should make clear that he has not heard General Dunford express a personal view on Mr Trump’s parade—the Trumparade? But as an outside observer, it would be easy to imagine that it might strike military planners as a potential distraction, at a grimly busy time.
America is a nation that has been at war for a long time, which still has troops fighting from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan, which is watching Russia warily in the Baltic and in Ukraine, and which in the short-term is building up military assets in Asia to deter North Korea, and in the longer-term to hedge against an ever-more assertive China.