If Trump really wants to honour William Ryan Owens’ death, he should apologise for the botched raid – like every other President before him

JFK delivered a red-faced apology to the American people for the Bay of Pigs, Carter accepted responsibility for Desert One and Obama claimed ownership over Benghazi. These men understood that as President the buck stops with you

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The Independent Online

Donald Trump is a master of smoke and mirrors. He’s a showman who operates without logic, rhyme or reason – and so when he wants to sell the American people a humorously large hike in military spending, he knows better than to try and appeal to our brains. He goes directly for the ole ticker.

That’s why America’s great orange defender devoted a chunk of his first Congressional address desperately trying to divert our gaze from his half-baked budgetary demands. Instead, Trump asked us to celebrate the legacy of fallen serviceman William Ryan Owens, a US Navy Seal who lost his life in a “highly successful” raid combatting Islamic fundamentalists in Yemen.

Trump’s warm welcome to Owens’ widow and his eulogy to the fallen soldier would have been a somewhat fitting tribute to a real American hero – had Trump not already slighted Owens’ memory by refusing to shoulder any responsibility for the botched raid that killed him.

Owens didn’t die in a highly successful mission to defeat al-Qaida once and for all. He was part of a firefight that killed 30 civilians, has yet to produce a shred of useful intelligence and was approved by Trump over a candlelit dinner.  US military officials said that the operation was approved without sufficient intelligence, ground support or back up preparations.

Highlights from President Trump's first speech to Congress

Now, we’ve got to give credit where credit is due and recognise this whole mess was orchestrated under the administration of Barack Obama. It was destined to happen long before the world could possibly have fathomed Trump had an ice cube’s chance in hell of winning the Oval Office – and immediately after the world started to question the legitimacy of that January 29 raid, America’s feckless new leader was only too keen to point this out.

When pressed over who was at fault, The Donald argued he was absolutely innocent in the matter, because it was something “they” wanted to do. If anybody’s widow wanted answers, they would have to take it up with military PR, Trump’s super-respected generals or Barack Obama.

Donald Trump’s gung-ho willingness to betray his station and the honour of the American people never ceases to shock and disgust. After all, not only does the guy's refusal to shoulder an ounce of responsibility for Owens’ death totally insult the memory of a man who gave his life for his country, but it also shows the world just how little Donald Trump cares about the awesome responsibilities to which he’s been endowed.

Like it or not, when you’ve got your feet kicked up on top of the Resolute Desk, the buck stops with you – every single time. It doesn’t matter how many little mistakes others make in bringing us from A to B. Right or wrong, for better or for worse, people quite literally live or die by your leave.

That’s why every other US president in history has owned up when a botched raid heads south. JFK delivered a red-faced apology to the American people for the Bay of Pigs, Jimmy Carter accepted responsibility for Desert One and Barack Obama claimed ownership over that convoluted attack in Benghazi. These men understood that, in order to lead a country, you must also show a little bit of humility and admit when your administration as a collective has cocked up and gotten somebody killed. 

Unfortunately, Trump doesn’t know the meaning of humility – and he doesn’t seem to understand why a leader could possibly be held accountable for the death of someone he didn’t personally shoot, either.

In Trump’s sawdust-filled head, being the most powerful leader on the planet means passing blame like a hot potato when and where it suits you, and fallen soldiers are nothing but political tools used to help you justify kick-starting some foolhardy arms race. That’s almost as immature as it is dangerous – and if that’s going to be Donald Trump’s long-term leadership approach, the world is in pretty big trouble.

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