Donald Trump cancels military parade as cost soars; blames Washington and says he will head to Paris

The request for the event came after US President Donald Trump was impressed by France's Bastille Day parade.
The request for the event came after US President Donald Trump was impressed by France's Bastille Day parade.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump said on Friday (Aug 17) he had cancelled a planned military parade for November due to high costs and would instead visit Paris to commemorate the end of World War I, a day after the Pentagon postponed the event to at least next year.

Trump had requested a parade to honour US military veterans and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war, after marvelling at the Bastille Day military parade he attended in Paris last year.

But, on Thursday, a US official said the cost of such an event could top US$90 million (S$120 million), nearly three times as much as the White House had earlier estimated.

The Defence Department ultimately postponed the event, originally planned for Nov 10 in Washington.

Trump, in a pair of tweets, said he would instead celebrate the occasion in Paris on Nov 11, the US Veterans Day holiday.

He also said he would attend a parade at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, but gave no date.

A spokeswoman at the base was not able to immediately provide the date for the event.

When the White House in February announced the commander-in-chief's desire to hold a parade in Washington, the budget director said it would cost between US$10 million and US$30 million.

But a US official told AFP earlier on Thursday that the planning estimate has now gone as high as US$92 million, though no final figure has been reached.

The parade had been planned for the Veterans Day weekend and was expected to include a large show of air power.

Critics had blasted the planned Washington parade, questioning the lofty cost and the need for it as the Pentagon has sought to stabilise an over-stretched military.

But in Trump’s tweets, the Republican president blamed local Washington officials for seeking a “windfall,” and suggested they were inflating the parade’s costs.

Washington, DC mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, hit back at Trump, saying in a Twitter post that she was “the local politician who finally got thru to the reality star in the White House with the realities ($21.6M) of parades/events/demonstrations in Trump America (sad).”

“A great celebratory parade costs money, Mr Trump, and it’s YOUR Pentagon that’s suggesting more than $90 million. Don’t blame others,” Washington, DC Council chairman Phil Mendelson, another Democrat, also tweeted.

 
 

Republican lawmaker Scott Taylor backed the decision to cancel the parade, saying he did not think it was appropriate to hold such an event while US troops were still fighting in wars overseas.

“I don’t agree that it’s a good idea. We’re still at war right now... We’re still out there, our people are still out there around the world right now, in harm’s way,” Taylor said in an interview with CNN.

Military parades in the United States are rare and historically have been used to mark the end of a military conflict. In 1991, tanks and thousands of troops paraded through Washington to celebrate the end of the Gulf War.

The Elysee Palace, the official residence of French President Emmanuel Macron, had no immediate comment on Trump’s planned visit.