A retired Navy SEAL who was on the raid to kill Osama bin Laden has some harsh words about President Donald Trump’s military parade plan.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Trump requested the Pentagon start planning a military parade to take place later this year along the inaugural route between Capitol Hill and the White House (which happens to pass the Trump International Hotel). The Pentagon and the White House both confirmed that the parade was in the planning stages.
But on Thursday morning, Robert O’Neill — who says he’s the one who shot bin Laden and identifies as a conservative — tweeted his displeasure with Trump’s demand.
“A military parade is third world bullshit,” O’Neill wrote. “We prepare. We deter. We fight. Stop this conversation.”
A military parade is third world bullshit. We prepare. We deter. We fight. Stop this conversation.— Robert J. O'Neill (@mchooyah) February 8, 2018
Here’s what he means: Poor — and usually authoritarian — countries like big military parades as a way to make the nation look tough and to stroke the dictator’s ego. In fact, North Korea held a big military parade on Thursday — just hours before the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea — featuring many of its weapons and thousands of troops.
Trump seems to want a parade to celebrate the military and build up national support — but his request undoubtedly has some authoritarian undertones.
Even some conservatives don’t like the military parade plan
O’Neill’s rebuke stands out mostly because he’s a retired Navy SEAL.
The elite, counterterrorism-focused group garnered attention when it rescued Capt. Richard Phillips from a pirate hijacking in 2009 and killed bin Laden in 2011. Scores of movies and books — some of them written by SEALs themselves — recount their clandestine, often violent missions, turning the group’s members into national celebrities and pop culture icons.
The criticism also stands out because some conservatives, like O’Neill, don’t think the parade is a good idea. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called Trump’s military parade plan “cheesy and weak.”
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said, “America is the most powerful country in all of human history; you don’t need to show it off,” adding, “I think confidence is silent and insecurity is loud.”
It’s unclear if there will actually be a parade any time soon. But former members of the military — and the president’s own party — don’t seem to think it’s a good idea.