The raid that President Donald Trump ordered on the village of Yakla in Yemen in late January increasingly looks like a botched mission. It garnered no significant intelligence and had a terrible cost in human life: American soldier William “Ryan” Owens and at least 14 civilians were killed. Speaking on Fox News on Tuesday morning, Trump made clear that responsibility for the failed sortie belongs to someone else, anyone else—the military, former President Barack Obama, but certainly not Trump himself.
“This was a mission that was started before I got here,” Trump said. “This was something they wanted to do. They came to me, they explained what they wanted to do—the generals—who are very respected, my generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan.... This was something that they were looking at for a long time doing, and according to [Defense Secretary James] Mattis it was a very successful mission. They got tremendous amounts of information.”
President Harry Truman kept a sign on his desk that read, “The buck stops here!” Earlier presidents adhered to that adage by accepting responsibility for military deaths under their command. The sign on Trump’s desk should read, “The buck stops anywhere but here!”