I remember Jimmy Carter’s failed attempt to rescue hostages in Iran. It was a disaster from start to finish.
With the Iran Hostage Crisis stretching into its sixth month and all diplomatic appeals to the Iranian government ending in failure, President Jimmy Carter ordered the military mission as a last ditch attempt to save the hostages. During the operation, three of eight helicopters failed, crippling the crucial airborne plans. The mission was then canceled at the staging area in Iran, but during the withdrawal one of the retreating helicopters collided with one of six C-130 transport planes, killing eight soldiers and injuring five. The next day, a somber Jimmy Carter gave a press conference in which he took full responsibility for the tragedy. The hostages were not released for another 270 days.
Note that Carter took responsibility for the failure, because that was the kind of guy he is. The screw-up in the rescue mission is one of multiple factors that contributed to his defeat by Ronald Reagan.
Compare and contrast with Trump’s recent gung-ho attack on terrorists (maybe) in Yemen.
As it turned out, almost everything that could go wrong did. And on Wednesday, Mr. Trump flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to be present as the body of the American commando killed in the raid was returned home, the first military death on the new commander in chief’s watch.
The death of Chief Petty Officer William Owens came after a chain of mishaps and misjudgments that plunged the elite commandos into a ferocious 50-minute firefight that also left three others wounded and a $75 million aircraft deliberately destroyed. There are allegations — which the Pentagon acknowledged on Wednesday night are most likely correct — that the mission also killed several civilians, including some children. The dead include, by the account of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Qaeda leader who was killed in a targeted drone strike in 2011.
Did Trump take responsibility for the failure? Of course not. That’s not the kind of guy he is.
Mr. Trump on Sunday hailed his first counterterrorism operation as a success, claiming the commandos capturedimportant intelligence that will assist the U.S. in preventing terrorism against its citizens and people around the world.A statement by the military’s Central Command on Wednesday night that acknowledged the likelihood of civilian casualties also said that the recovered materials had provided some initial information helpful to counterterrorism analysts. The statement did not provide details.
Carter paid a political price for his blunder. Trump won’t — he’s already spinning it into a victory.
At least Carter’s mistake didn’t murder any little girls.