When your campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again,” the standard for all future decisions is set. In President Donald Trump’s first counterterrorism operation in Yemen, the result was hardly “great.”
The objective of the mission was relatively straight-forwarded. In the early morning of Sunday, Jan. 29, members of Seal Team 6 were tasked to retrieve cellphones and laptops from Al-Qaeda leaders in a small village in Yemen that could provide vital intelligence pertaining to the terrorist organisation. A firefight ensued, costing numerous casualties including Chief Petty Officer William Owens and local Yemeni children.
The reports and articles to follow seem to imply that President Trump had rushed into the operation. The mission had been planned months prior during the Obama administration however was held off because defence officials had hoped to execute the mission on a moonless night. For arguments sake, let’s say that the necessary research and planning for the raid was complete; all President Trump had to do was give the green light.
In his 2nd February press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer commented on the raid as a success.
“And again, I think — I would go back to what I said yesterday: It’s hard to ever call something a complete success when you have the loss of life, or people injured. But I think when you look at the totality of what was gained to prevent the future loss of life here in America and against our people and our institutions, and probably throughout the world in terms of what some of these individuals could have done, I think it is a successful operation by all standards”, Sean Spicer.
In what has been a tumultuous first two weeks for the new President, reflecting on the raid was an opportunity for the administration to admit that the they could do better. He passed on that opportunity.
President Obama was often scrutinized and reproached for his use of drone strikes which by the end of tenure, had contributed to significant civilian casualties. By considering this mission a clear success, the Trump administration is making a statement that they too will look past the innocent casualties, as well as the cost of American life, in their pursuit of halting global terrorism. The American people should expect better from their new Commander-in-Chief, especially as he insists he’s returning the country, in every facet, to greatness.
What’s most alarming is how seemingly obvious this would be. Unlike his recent ban on incoming refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries or his supreme court nomination, aspiring to better keep American servicemen and women safe as well as international civilians is something almost all Americans can rally around. Yet recognizing failure and the need for improvement hardly seems to exist in the rhetoric of the new president.
Donald Trump made it clear that he wants to make America great. In his first military operation, the result was hardly such. His failure to confront tactical misshapes paints the picture of someone unwillingly to admit he could do better. For America to in fact be ‘great’, that has to change.
(Image courtesy of TIME)