Ever since the start of civilization, military parades are the most essential form of propaganda. A leader is showing their people the size of their muscle. They may not have jobs, they may have some crippling illness, they may not have a fertile crop on the farm, but when they see the immense procession of military might, at least they have something to be proud of.
Military parades are always a form of propaganda. But there are much different forms of propaganda. The Roman Triumph for example, was a civil ceremony held to celebrate a military victory. This lavish and spectacular event was held to notify the people of a recent victory.
When England retook the Falkand Islands from Argentina in 1982, they had an elaborate military parade. Our largest parade was the Grand Review of the Armies in 1865, to mark the end of the Civil War, Slate.
But what are we to make of a huge military parade without a battle to celebrate? Such military parades are also very common throughout history. Even today, there are leaders around the world who feel compelled to display their military might to their constituents. If a leader is insecure, military parades are the most efficient way to earn respect, or at least the leader thinks his people respect him more. Just check out this list of other world leaders who regularly dance their wind-up tin soldiers in front of their constituents.
North Korea often stages military parades in Pyongyang. Tanks and missile systems roll through the city. Kim Jong-On smiles with pride as he watches the procession. However, as the rest of the world admired the parade, some people on Twitter thought the gigantic missile launchers looked kind of weird.
One Twitter user said: “Fake missiles; bodied over wooden frames.”
Another said: “I can’t speak 2 the skills of NorthKorea weapon engineers, but looking at these fake missiles their papier-mache experts are off the chain.” Independent
Lucky for Kim though, North Koreans don’t have internet.
Ever since Xi Jinping became president of China in 2012, military parades have become a common practice. These parades are massive and incredibly expensive. The parade that marked the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army, more than 100 fighter jets flew overhead and 600 kinds of heavy weaponry were on display.
Russia also displays its military might once a year, to celebrate Victory Day, which signifies the end of World War Two. In 2015, Victory Day had 16,000 soldiers, 150 aircraft and 200 bad ass armored vehicles. Imagine the cost of such a spectacle! But Russia doesn’t have much money. In fact, three states in America have a larger annual GDP than Russia.
Why would Russia go to such lengths to conduct some silly military parade?
The same reason that Trump will be throwing one on November 10. I’d like to think the parade is to commemorate my birthday. I doubt it. November 1o is also the birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
Leaders like Kim Jong-On, Putin and Donald Trump are reeling with insecurity. Those three leaders are also most criticized by the rest of the world. This is no coincidence.
These three leaders have obviously brushed up on their propaganda history. While the rest of the world is highlighting the leader’s faults, propaganda is an effective way to distract their constituents. Trump at least, we know studied Hitler’s book of speeches. His ex wife said he kept a copy on his night stand. However, a military parade will hardly bring the same benefits for Trump as they do for Kim Jong-On or Putin, or even Hitler for that matter. Media in North Korea and Russia are tightly censored. Putin and Jong-On can carefully sculpt public opinion and dissonance. Trump’s fan base, that uneducated group of suspender wearing, corn-stalk chewing, moonshine chugging voters, will be dazzled by Trump’s parade. Unlikely that anyone else will appreciate it.