Military might: National Guard troops outside the US Capitol on January 16. Picture: Getty Images/Eric Thayer
Military might: National Guard troops outside the US Capitol on January 16. Picture: Getty Images/Eric Thayer

Two days before US president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Washington, DC looked like Moscow on the morning of its annual Victory Day parade or an ordinary morning in Pyongyang. There were 25,000 National Guard soldiers and their Humvees on the streets of the capital, ready to put down anything that looked like trouble, especially if it was armed with assault rifles or homemade bombs.

What bitterness, then, for the outgoing president that the military spectacle he so craved was there to protect his successor as he scuttled off to his Florida golf estate.

Military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang are more than showing off the army’s new kit: they are also warnings especially to you, beloved citizens, that not only do we have your backs but we also have your fronts in our sights. So be good.

No wonder Trump wanted one of his own. It showed breathtaking doublethink from a man who dodged the draft to Vietnam by alleging bonespurs in his feet.

He also called US soldiers who had died in battle "losers", which would not have endeared him to the military.

Yet the former president wanted a military drive-by so badly after attending the 2017 Bastille Day parade in Paris that he apparently ordered his defence chiefs to do one. They demurred.

It may comfort Americans to think of troops in DC as less of a parade than an armed escort to make sure Trump leaves the city limits.

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