It didn’t go exactly as planned, and to be fair, most military operations don’t. And, like countless previous operations, not everyone survived. Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens lost his life that night.
This operation has commanded national attention for several reasons, chief being the fact that it was the first military operation ordered by President Trump.
But it’s also commanded national attention because of the reaction of the Trump administration. And with so many issues, it’s become a battle between Mr. Trump’s interpretation and the rest of us. Much of Mr. Trump’s reaction troubles many of us.
And yet many of us still find ourselves troubled. Mr. Trump quickly moved the discussion into a debate between “success” and “failure.”
As I said earlier, many of us find ourselves troubled by Mr. Trump’s binary view of the world. A binary world contains only two colors: black or white. There is no in between, there is no gray. Any act is either a success or failure. There is no mixed result.
In the world of American military action there are several examples of success and failure. Virtually all of us see the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011 as a success. Osama bin Laden was killed and no members of the American military died.
On the other hand, we view the attempt to rescue our hostages in Iran on March 24, 1980 as a failure as eight soldiers died and none of the hostages were rescued.
These are extreme examples. Most operations have both costs and benefits. But from the very beginning the White House has scrambled to portray this as a complete success.
Within a week we were reading that it may not have been. According to an NBC News report from March 1st, none of the laptops, hard drives, or cell phones have given us anything useful. Additionally, Arizona Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) also questioned the success of the raid.
Typically, Mr. Trump attacked Senator McCain by tweeting: “He’s been losing so long he doesn’t know how to win anymore.”
Mr. Trump’s demand that this raid be deemed a complete success distracts us. In fairness we may not know for some time how to value this raid but his actions going forward chill many of us. As Commander in Chief he orders our brave men and women in uniform into harm’s way for our defense and freedom. I pray that when he is called to do this, his primary concern is for them and not his own reputation.