To North Korea, Trump’s Military Parade Will Look Like Fear, Not Strength

February 10, 2018
by Jeffrey Lewis

The following is an excerpt of an op/ed published in the Washington Post.

I spend a lot of time watching military parades. It’s not because I particularly like them — in fact, I find them tedious and jingoistic — but because often they are a source of valuable information about countries such as Russia, China and North Korea, where that’s usually hard to come by. Analysts like me scrutinize both the military hardware on display and the leaders watching the parade.

The Russians, Chinese and North Koreans know we’re watching, of course. That’s part of the game — parades are massive propaganda efforts that these governments mount to convey a certain message both to their own people and to the rest of the world. Our job as analysts is to decipher the message Moscow, Beijing or Pyongyang is trying to send, and then scrutinize it closely to discover the things that they perhaps don’t want us to notice.


Parades in places like China and North Korea only make sense if we understand the broader propaganda context in which they take place. And from my experience analyzing parades there, I can predict how the military parade President Trump wants to hold in Washington this year might play in Moscow, Beijing or Pyongyang.

It will not, despite what Trump may think, be seen as a sign of American confidence.

Continue reading at the Washington Post.

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