Former Defense Secretary William Cohen blasted President TrumpDonald TrumpMark Walker to stay in North Carolina Senate race Judge lays out schedule for Eastman to speed up records processing for Jan. 6 panel Michael Avenatti cross-examines Stormy Daniels in his own fraud trial MORE’s July 4 event, which will feature tanks and military aircraft, saying the politicization of the military is “a bad idea.”

“The tradition in this country is for the Fourth of July to be Independence Day,” Cohen, a former Republican senator who led the Pentagon for four years under President Clinton, said on CNN Wednesday.

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“I think what the president has done in trying to promote this as a spectacular event, he’s sort of the ringmaster of the Greatest Show on Earth. And I think it comes at a time when he’s attempting to politicize the institutions in this country, which we like to think are being completely independent. He has referred to the military and to the generals as ‘my generals.’ ”

Cohen said Trump was trying to take the reins of several institutions, noting that the president often touts the support of law enforcement, judges and others, but says the military should be out of bounds.

“It's not his military. These are not his generals ... To me, the most troubling thing is the potential politicalization of the military. It is one of the last institutions in this country which the American people see as being nonpolitical. And when the president goes and makes speeches as he did in Korea to say that ‘The Democrats wouldn’t do this for you, only I can do this for you,’ he is driving a wedge in this country which I think will undermine our security if he continues to do that,” he said, referencing a speech he gave to troops in South Korea. 

“The moment the American people become convinced that if you’re a Republican, you support the military, if you’re a Democrat you don’t, it’s going to divide this country and make us less secure in the future. I support having planes fly overhead … but we can do that on Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day.”

Democrats have come out swinging against the parade, saying its display of military force echoes events held by authoritarians and that its $2.5 million price tag is an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars. 

Trump has defended the event, saying the cost “will be very little compared to what it is worth.”