Op-Ed: Misplaced Blame for Navy Seal’s Death

Ryan Owens - Family Photo
William "Ryan" Owens Family Photo

This Op-Ed was written and submitted to Breitbart Texas by Ken Webster Jr., host of the “Pursuit of Happiness” radio show, executive producer of the Walton & Johnson radio show, and contributing producer to the nationally syndicated Michael Berry Show. 

If you’ve heard anything about Trump’s first speech in front of Congress then you probably already know his tribute to Navy SEAL widow Carryn Owens, wife of Ryan Owens, was the most talked about moment of the night. It was considered by many to be one of Trump’s most Presidential highlights in his brief political career [whatever that means], but even this tribute to a dead military member wasn’t without its critics.

Ryan was killed a few weeks ago in a botched covert mission in Yemen; the government and the media are still trying to make sense of what happened.

People on the left were quick to place blame on Trump for the death of Senior Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens and many saw his tribute to Owens’ wife as being exploitative, which is kind of ironic coming from the left, a group of people who love using human shields at every political opportunity.

Trump, in turn, was also quick to deflect the blame for Ryan’s death on to military leaders and the former administration. Trump claimed the Generals in charge of the operation were the ones who cost Owens his life. He also claimed the target for this operation was selected for an attack because of intelligence received by the former administration.

An Obama administration official disputed the White House account, but that’s to be expected.

So who’s really at fault here?

The truth is, there is no simple answer.  Sorry, it just doesn’t work like that.

In reality, Obama’s administration did flag the location of the botched operation as a point of interest. That said, Trump is the one who signed off on the attack. This shouldn’t surprise us because as leader of the military he picked up where the last administration left off.

Similarly, the military leaders were in charge of coordinating the logistics of the operation, not President Trump. Trump, Obama, and the military leadership should all accept a portion of the blame for this failed mission.

Most of Trump’s critics haven’t even bothered to digest most of the previous details. But of all the far-fetched claims about this horrible tragedy, the strangest was made by many on the left that no previous American president would ever go so low as to blame someone else for a failed military operation the way Trump did.

Some cable news talking heads even used Obama and George W. as examples of better behaving leadership.

It’s strange how quickly we forget what happened just a few short years ago.

Most of us reasonable people will probably never forget September 11th, 2012. It was the day of the infamous Benghazi attack.

Remember Benghazi?  Liberals don’t. On that day Ambassador Chris Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and two CIA operatives, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs, were killed as the US consulate was stormed by violent protesters. According to most accounts, the calls for help from the consulate went unanswered until a group of CIA contractors may have defied direct orders and came to their aid. As the fight went on, and they were attacked again, help was again denied (or delayed).

After the tragedy had ended, President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had the audacity of blaming a civilian named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he created a YouTube video that would otherwise have been completely irrelevant if not for the fact that the Obama administration suggested it was the cause of the attacks on our embassy. Of course, this was later revealed not to be true.

Both Obama and Hillary told the media a lie.  Hillary even lied to the families of the victims. Strangely, she didn’t lie about what happened to the Egyptian Prime Minister, or her daughter, as we later learned from emails obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests. Why would foreign political leaders and Clinton family members be privy to information about dead Americans that the wives and children of the deceased never received?

We’ll never know.

And it wasn’t even the only time Obama did something like this. Back in 2012, we learned that three years earlier, in 2009, the Obama administration drafted up a memo that would blame military leadership if the Bin Laden mission happened to fail. Of course, the Bin Laden mission didn’t fail, but it still doesn’t change the fact that Obama was ready and willing to throw military leadership under the bus for a decision that he signed off on.

Sound familiar?

Ok, fine, but what about comparing Trump to George W? Ol’ Dubya was quick to throw out insults at Trump this week as well, and his neo-con minions all lapped it up with delight.  Surely Bush would never blame military leadership the way Trump did earlier this week. Right?

Not so fast there, Speed Racer.

In 2007, after trillions in spending, thousands of lives lost and years of attempting to change the regime in Iraq and stabilize the region, President Bush casually shifted blame in an interview with Fox News for the early failure of the war away from himself and his Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld onto a subordinate, Gen. Tommy Franks.

Of course, both Bush and Obama engaged in plenty of acts of misplaced blame during their administration, whether it be Bush’s weapons of mass destruction, or President Obama suggesting Officer Darren Wilson was guilty of shooting Michael Brown before a trial had even begun, but that’s beside the point. During our lifetime it’s safe to assume that most Presidents have blamed someone else for a failed military operation are two. That’s a consequence of living in a nation with an extremely violent foreign policy.

Trump’s not the first President to blame the Generals, and he won’t be the last. Let’s not forget how shocked people were when Harry Truman fired General MacArthur over what he viewed as a series of missteps in Korea. The buck certainly did not stop with the President.  It stopped with the President’s scapegoat.

Now I realize that controversy doesn’t perfectly mirror the botched Navy SEAL operation in Yemen, but give him a break: Truman didn’t have a Twitter account.

Many might think characters like Dr. Ron Paul are kooky when he and his colleagues suggest our military engagements overseas aren’t helping us or the nations we’re occupying, but he wasn’t wrong any of the times he made those statements.

It’s 2017, and we’ve been involved in foreign military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan for the better part of 16 long years.

What do we have to show for it?  With all the money we spent, we could have built a new country in the middle of the sea, but the mess in Iraq and Afghanistan remains.  In fact, thanks to groups like ISIS, it’s considerably worse. The hostility in Iraq and Afghanistan have spread to places like Somalia, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan, Nigeria and, let’s not forget, Yemen.

We are right back where we started: a mourning Navy SEAL’s widow being honored for the lost life of her husband at Trump’s address before Congress. Was this recognition the dawn of a new fascism as many on the left claim? No, not really. Trump didn’t create this mess; he’s simply a reality TV show host who talked his way into Washington.

People on the right are probably wrong if they think Trump is going to fix the mess in the Middle East. The reality is that these people don’t want democracy.  They don’t care about “Western” values, and they hate Jews and Christians. The Middle East has been violent and unstable since Biblical times, and it will probably still be violent 100 years from now.

Let’s go back to fixing Detroit and let the Mideast worry about itself.

Ken Webster Jr. hosts the “Pursuit of Happiness” radio show. He also serves as executive producer of the Walton & Johnson radio show, and is a contributing producer to The Michael Berry Show. Follow him on Twitter @ProducerKen.


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