Iran’s state-run media was unsurprisingly displeased with President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July event, accusing the American president of militarizing the holiday while writing as official mouthpieces for what amounts to a 40-year old theocratic military junta.
“The event was different for the people of the United States, because for the first time in the country’s history, an American president used the holiday to commemorate it with jets, tanks, and military might,” Iran’s Press TV wrote, parroting a dubious talking point popular with the American left.
The editorial was entitled “Trump’s Militaristic Taunts Sully U.S. Independence Day.” The Iranian regime did not much care for Trump’s speech praising America’s troops, saying:
Making his speech next to military equipment and leaders, a weird aspect to Independence Day, Trump swanked about America’s “extraordinary heritage” with conceited rhetoric, celebrating the US as “the most exceptional nation in the history of the world”.
While concealing major US military campaigns against other countries in the last one hundred years, the president gave a celebratory history of alleged defense against foreign raids and terrorism.
“We will always be the people who defeated a tyrant, crossed a continent, harnessed science, took to the skies, and soared into the heavens, because we will never forget that we are Americans, and the future belongs to us,” he said.
His implicit warnings to enemies were punctured by sporadic “USA! USA!” cries from his supporters.
The Iranian editorial took gleeful note of the “hundreds of demonstrators” setting fire to American flags near the event, then wrapped up with a clumsy effort to make common cause with Trump’s domestic political adversaries, saying:
His critics condemned the event as a waste of taxpayer money and politicization of the holiday which is usually about fireworks, family reunions, picnics, and parades.
Senator Bernie Sanders twitted: “This is what authoritarians do: Donald Trump is taking $2.5 million away from our National Park Service to glorify himself with a spectacle of military tanks rolling through Washington.”
CNN carnival barker and American Urban Radio Networks correspondent April Ryan criticized Trump as “looking like a dictator from another nation.”
Trump’s Fourth of July event had only slightly more military hardware on display than the average regional air show and even the military parades of Europe, let alone those of squalid military dictatorships, and do not back up the Iranian outlet’s complaints.
The Iranians, for example, are very fond of military marches. They just held one in April to commemorate the annual holiday dedicated to the Iranian army. Here is what it looked like:
Notice the Iranian troops are marching in front of a stand emblazoned with the faces of authoritarian rulers, not just the national flag. This particular event showcased a new ballistic missile, supposedly Iran’s most powerful offensive weapon.
President Hassan Rouhani, the nominal secular leader of Iran, presided over that particular “weird” display of arms, apparently unconcerned with “sullying” Iranian independence, to borrow a few of Press TV’s adjectives.
Rouhani delivered a highly politicized speech that railed against the United States and Israel, with particularly heated criticism for the U.S. designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. The IRGC is a lavishly-funded division of the Iranian military loyal to its theocratic rulers, not the secular government, and is constantly involved in the kind of foreign adventures Press TV evidently finds disconcerting, or at least they do on the Fourth of July.
The Iranians hold military parades on occasions other than Army Day, and not just in Tehran. Another noteworthy recent event was a parade with heavy IRGC involvement held in the city of Ahvaz in September to commemorate the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, a day the Iranians continue observing as an explicitly militaristic holiday over 30 years later. The September 2018 parade in Ahvaz was attacked by militants the Iranian government initially claimed were agents of the United States and its Persian Gulf allies, although the purported “mastermind” of the attack turned out to be an Islamic State operative.
The Iranians also put on a major display of military equipment in February of this year to celebrate the “Ten-Day Dawn,” the return of the revolutionary Ayatollah Khamenei from exile and the closest parallel the Islamic Republic would have to Independence Day.