Launched in his first week in office, the SEAL Team 6 raid in Yemen was something the Trump Administration quickly embraced as a massive success, and in the month that followed has faced repeated comments from officials conceding that virtually everything that could have gone wrong did.
Speaking in his first address to Congress, however, President Trump was quick to insist that it was a “highly successful raid,” emphasizing the death of soldier Ryan Owens as having “secured our nation” with the raid, and secured his legacy “into eternity.”
There is a knee-jerk sense among officials that while a US military operation can fail, any operation which saw an American soldier killed be lionized as both necessary and an achievement, with the assumption that failing to endorse the operation would damage their sacrifice.
That is doubly the case this time, with Owens’ father critical of the operation and accusing President Trump of “hiding behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” and yesterday’s reports from officials that “no significant intelligence” came out of the raid.
On that front too, Trump pretended the revelations about the operation’s unsuccessful nature didn’t happen, claiming he had been assured by Defense Secretary Mattis that the raid “generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future.”
One shudders to think, given that this raid was presented itself as a victory, how many more such wins America could sustain, but so long as US troops keep getting killed in the process, one can expect the appeal to their sacrifice will continue.