John McCain, after a brief period of seeming lucidity, is back to being the douche-ish John McCain we’ve all learned to love and admire since he burst onto the national scene in the 2000 primary season. Unfortunately, the White House is indistinguishable in douchiness from McCain. What has set off the latest championship round of I-can-be-a-bigger-a**hole-than-you between Sean Spicer and John McCain was the raid in Yemen. Basically, because the media is looking for any reason whatsoever to attack Trump, they leapt on the raid conducted my Navy SEALs and some indigenous special operations forces on an al-Qaeda site in Yemen. By all reports, just about everything in the site was killed and sizable collection of documents and electronics seized. However, one SEAL, CPO William “Ryan” Owens, was killed and a V-22 Osprey crash lande during the operation and had to be destroyed by US forces.
This is the play by play by my count.
Round One. Spicer calls the raid a “huge success.” Which, by the way, it very well may be. As people with no access to classified information we simply can’t evaluate the claim.
Round Two. John McCain gets his dick on.
“Every military operation has objectives. And while many of the objectives of the recent raid in Yemen were met, I would not describe any operation that results in the loss of American life as a success,” the statement said. “Going forward, I am confident that our military will act on lessons learned from this operation to strengthen our fight against our terrorist enemies.”
Round Three. Spicer goes full metal dick.
“He fought knowing what was at stake in that mission,” Spicer said, referring to Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens. “And anybody who would suggest otherwise doesn’t fully appreciate how successful that mission was, what the information that they were able to retrieve was and how that will help prevent future terrorist attacks.”
Round Four. McCain says, no, I’m still a dick and a bigger one than you.
“Many years ago when I was imprisoned in North Vietnam there was an attempt to rescue the POWs. Unfortunately, the prison had been evacuated but the brave men who took—risked their lives in an effort to rescue us prisoners of war were genuine American heroes,” McCain said. “Because the mission failed did not in any way diminish their courage and willingness to help their fellow Americans who were held captive. Mr. Spicer should know that story.”
McCain, of course, is referring to the November 21, 1970 raid by US Army Special Forces on a prisoner of war camp at Son Tay in North Vietnam. While the mission is called a failure because our intelligence assets failed to notice there were actually no prisoners in the camp, the raid landed 23 miles from Hanoi, they killed some 40 NVA and Chinese troops, and made it back out with one man wounded. The raid undoubtedly save a lot of American lives because it forced the North Vietnamese to concentrate them into one large prison where there was less opportunity to kill them. And knowledge of the raid boosted morale of the prisoners by letting them know they were not forgotten. So failure and success are pretty relative.
I don’t know what the deal is with the White House and its critics over the Yemen raid. Combat is not a freakin video game. You don’t just re-spawn your character when you get killed or go back to your last save. You are dead. And the fact that people are obsessing over a single American casualty on a very high risk mission because we typically suffer zero casualties is a sign that our special operations forces know what in the hell they are doing and it is also a reminder that what they are doing is damned dangerous and not a game. It’s a sad fact, but men do get killed in combat and if that shocks or surprises you, well you probably should grab your blankey and get the hell out of the room where the grown-ups are talking.
While the White House declaring this, absent any proof and with its own self-inflicted burden of exaggeration to bear, a “huge success” is just dumb, what McCain did is stupid. By his metric D-Day was a failure (2,499 dead Americans). The defense of Guadalcanal was a failure (7,100 dead Americans). The Battle of the Bulge was a failure (19,000 dead Americans). The idea that the death of a single American servicemember renders an operation unsuccessful is standard that simply cannot be met and calls into question why one would fight any battle that we know is going to be, by McCain’s definition, “unsuccessful” before the first round is even fired.
I though McCain was actually smarter than this. I guess I was wrong.