December 6, 2014

"[T]he President wanted so much to make his surgical strike bloodless that he could not make the incision..."

"The mission's failure is wrongly interpreted as evidence of the folly of direct action.... In fact, the reason the rescue failed was not that one helicopter pilot lost his way, but that the conception of the raid was not bold enough..."

From a 1980 essay by William Safire about the failed mission to rescue the American hostages during the Carter Administration.

I'm reading that this morning after seeing the news today:
Two hostages, including an American journalist, who were being held by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen were killed during a rescue attempt by United States commandos early Saturday, American officials said.

In a statement, President Obama said the hostages had been “murdered” by militants belonging to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula during the rescue operation. A senior United States official said that the American, Luke Somers, 33, was badly wounded when commandos reached him. By the time Mr. Somers was flown to a United States naval ship in the region, he had died from his injuries, the official said Saturday.

Mr. Obama said in his statement, “It is my highest responsibility to do everything possible to protect American citizens. As this and previous hostage rescue operations demonstrate, the United States will spare no effort to use all of its military, intelligence and diplomatic capabilities to bring Americans home safely, wherever they are located.”
I'm not a military expert, so I hesitate to express an opinion on any military effort, but I want to say keep up this kind of pressure. Isn't a rescue attempt that fails like this better than leaving terrorists to make theater out of killing a man according to their schedule and their methods?

61 comments:

John Lynch said...

I'm sorry it failed but they need to keep trying. These men were going to be murdered and it was a good idea to attempt the rescue.

Destroy America's enemies wherever they hide.

Keep the faith.

Jim in St Louis said...

Very sorry for the families- their Christmas is gonna suck.

Not knowing the details of the raid- and probably we don't need those details- after all what difference at this point does it make?

I fully support the president in continuing these types of operations. I hope he has the best advisers and I hope the troops are well trained and well equipped and have good leadership.

No ransom, and try to deprive the enemy of any type of propaganda.

I wonder if Althouse has created an "Obama is like Netanyahu" tag yet?

lgv said...

"Isn't a rescue attempt that fails like this better than leaving terrorists to make theater out of killing a man according to their schedule and their methods?"

I believe so. Why do they kidnap? What is their endgame with the kidnappings? When they cannot get the end results they want, they will stop kidnapping and move on to some other nefarious activity.

Jim in St Louis said...

I seldom comment here but am an avid reader of others comments and of the personality of the regulars.

Quiz: How many people will comment on the headline of this post and think that it was said about Obama? When it states in the first sentence that it was a statement about Carter?

I bet there at least 8 comments who will quote the headline and say 'Well that's Obama for you!'

tim in vermont said...

Yes.

The Europeans are financing this whole kidnapping / terror ring by paying multi-million dollar ransoms.

Every ransom paid dooms many more to the same fate.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

[T]he President wanted so much to make his surgical strike bloodless that he could not make the incision...

Well, that's Obama for you!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Jim -

You're welcome.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

My sympathy to the families.

And, as others have said, this is far better than paying ransom.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

I have a cousin in Marine Force Recon, the same job our daughter's godfather did when younger. One godson did four SOF tours in Iraq. The neighbor up the road was an E-9 Green Beret. The SOF people are very dear to me.

They'll all tell you the same thing ... it isn't gonna work every time. Sometimes our SOF guys even end up KIA. Shit happens, and every one of them knows it. And they do it anyway.

Obama (whom I detest) was doing his job. He didn't plan the op, and if it was inadequate, that's not on him.

Or maybe it was just one of those deals that (for other reasons on the target end) wasn't gonna work.

The key underlying point, however, is that the job of a President is to make our adversaries and enemies FEAR us enough that we rarely have to use our SOF peeps.

That one *is* on Obama.

Jim in St Louis said...

Ignorance is Bliss said..

"Well, that's Obama for you!"

Now that's funny- I don't care who you are.

Bobber Fleck said...

Isn't a rescue attempt that fails like this better than leaving terrorists to make theater out of killing a man according to their schedule and their methods?

I completely agree, and hope this aspect is always the case: "...no American special operations forces were injured in the raid...

Pettifogger said...

Better the failed effort than terrorist theater?

Yes. Absolutely. This will happen sometimes when you resist, but resistance is the only way to ultimately suppressing violent jihad.

Unknown said...

look, look, this is us supporting Obama, when he does his job or lets his people do their jobs. C, that wasn't hard. Furthermore, even though the results weren't very good, perhaps he will see the support and liked it and do more of this activity. The terrorists should be very very afraid once Obama figures out that the American people like it when he attacks them.

amielalune said...

Jim in St. Louis: Not doubting your word, but you can't be an "avid" reader of this blog. People here, while of widely varying opinions, as a rule demonstrate that they have thoughtfully read the posts before commenting. (Too easy to make a fool of yourself if you don't, and the others will gleefully point that out, over and over if possible.)

Your comment applies to many, many other sites, but not this one.

David Hampton said...

One of the "wild cards" in this op was the involvement of the Yemeni government. Any number of leaks would have caused problems like the Seal Team 6 experienced over Afghanistan. The "murdered" captives mean the bad guys had time to execute the prisoners before being killed themselves. Keep the pressure on the bad guys wherever they are. Good work guys!

The Drill SGT said...

'm not a military expert, so I hesitate to express an opinion on any military effort, but I want to say keep up this kind of pressure. Isn't a rescue attempt that fails like this better than leaving terrorists to make theater out of killing a man according to their schedule and their methods?

Absolutely. Our people and the thugs need to know that we are coming for them...

"Perdicaris Alive or Raisuli Dead"

"In ancient times the strongest words a person could utter was “Civis Romanus sum” or “I am a Roman citizen”. You could, according to legend, walk the length and breadth of the known world protected only by those words. People would refrain from harming you simply because they knew if the smallest harm came to you that the response of your government would be swift, sure, and in the case of those who did the harm, quite unpleasant."


The WH should think more like Romans and less like progressives

The Drill SGT said...

Bart Hall said...
Obama (whom I detest) was doing his job. He didn't plan the op, and if it was inadequate, that's not on him.


I understand and agree with you up to a point, however, the WH (see Carter or LBJ examples) can get people killed by limiting assets used, or tight ROE, or picking targets to send messages.

Give Mission Orders, not ROE

PS: Few operations or demolitions fail due to too much force...More is better :)

Unknown said...

Link is nyt archive paywall. Googling produced little. ?

tim in vermont said...

The Brits had a long history with paying the Danegeld. Starting with Æthelred the Unready. They won't pay it either, seeing it for what it is, placing a bounty on their own citizens.

John said...

"The mission's failure is wrongly interpreted as evidence of the folly of direct action.... In fact, the reason the rescue failed was not that one helicopter pilot lost his way, but that the conception of the raid was not bold enough..."

As a member of this operation, sitting in an MC-130 on the Iranian desert when the RH-53 struck the EC-130, I offer an alternative theory for its failure. The mission failed due to the politics of command and leadership, not the Presidents desire of a surgical operation. The mission was more complex then needed -- based on the choices made by Col Beckwith, Maj Gen Vaught, and the JCS. They created a Task Force that was over-compartmented, had too many moving parts, suffered from the tyranny of distance in Iran.

On the topic of the post -- raids, by their nature are high risk/high gain. When they succeed there is great joy, when they fail great sorrow.

It seems to me the question before the President is one of Policy. Does the US pay ransom? Past Presidents have said no, this one has, at least in the case of Pvt Berghahl, said we will.

Humperdink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Hampton said...

John: thanks for your input and service.

Humperdink said...

" Isn't a rescue attempt that fails like this better than leaving terrorists to make theater out of killing a man according to their schedule and their methods?"

Richard Engel, NBC war correspondent, agrees with you. He was on MSLSD this morning and said as much. He was, in fact, a hostage at one time and stated it was better to die during a rescue operation than die in a propaganda you-tube video (paraphrasing).

Dr Weevil said...

It seems to me that this outcome was better even for the late Mr Somers. Which would you prefer? A few more days or weeks among the terrorists, then having your head sawed off slowly on camera after being forced to tell some humiliating lies? Or a clean death by gunshot wounds with the knowledge that you will be buried at home in one piece, that you can freely say whatever you want before you go, most likely giving a few messages to your rescuers to pass on to loved ones, and that you can die happy thinking of all the terrorist assholes SFs killed rescuing you? That's assuming he was conscious for at least part of the time between wounding and death. If he was not? Dying instantly is still better than what would have been done to him if rescue had not been attempted.

Not a happy ending for him, of course, but a considerably less unhappy ending than he was headed for.

ddh said...

Rudyard Kipling wrote:

Dane-Geld
A.D. 980-1016

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!"

The Drill SGT said...

He was taken hostage together with Umberto Cupertino, Maurizio Agliana and Salvatore Stefio. They worked in Iraq as security contractors. Quattrocchi's kidnappers forced him to dig his own grave and kneel beside it wearing a hood as they prepared to film his death, but he defied them by trying to pull off the hood and shouting "Vi faccio vedere come muore un Italiano!" - "I'll show you how an Italian dies!" He was then shot in the back of the neck.

Cupertino, Agliana and Stefio would later be freed in a bloodless raid by U.S. troops, that Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said he had approved beforehand.


Pettifogger said...

Unknown says the terrorists should be fearful once they realize the American people support attacks on THEM.

Of course, my mind wondered about the antecedent of THEM. I support the attacks on terrorists but expect to see more attacks on the American people.

Tank said...

It kills me to support this President and this action, but I do.

Caveat: As with everything else, it could all be a lie/con. Would that be a surprise? I hope not.

MadisonMan said...

I agree with your assessment. Make sure the terrorists always *always* looking over their shoulder waiting for the hammer to fall.

Very sorry to read that American lives were snuffed out by the Islamists.

Curious George said...

“It is my highest responsibility to do everything possible to protect American citizens. As this and previous hostage rescue operations demonstrate, the United States will spare no effort to use all of its military, intelligence and diplomatic capabilities to bring Americans home safely, wherever they are located.”

Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were unavailable for comment.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Hillary Clinton is advocating a terrible approach to use in dealing with our enemies. Here's what she says “This is what we call smart power — using every possible tool and partner to advance peace and security, leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect, even for one’s enemies, trying to understand and insofar as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view, helping to define the problems, determine the solutions,” she continued. “That is what we believe in the 21st century will change — change the prospects for peace.”

Sebastian said...

"The terrorists should be very very afraid once Obama figures out that the American people like it when he attacks them."

Sure, there's a chance his political opportunism will outweigh his actual policy preferences. But terrorists, like all U.S. adversaries, have long since taken the measure of the man. No one is "very very afraid" of our Nobel Peace Prize winner.

"The WH should think more like Romans and less like progressives."

Right, it should. We'd need a different WH, though. And leaders with some historical inkling of what it means to "think more like Romans."

wildswan said...

Intermittently the good sense buried below the media-Washington mudslide bubbles up like a clear spring in the midst of desolation
As:
An attempt to rescue those marked for death
Akai Gurley's parents telling Al Sharpton to stay away.
8 witnesses in Ferguson supporting Officer Darren Wilson's story
Breitbart and others pointing out inconsistencies in the Jackie story so that Rolling Stone had to admit error.

Owen said...

Very sorry the hostages died but (absent new info) I have to assume that those on the mission did the best they possibly could, and were given the best tools for the job. I commend them for trying and I agree that it is important to keep pressure on the enemy. And I very much hope that in the course of this action we killed a lot of bad guys and acquired intel so we can kill many more.

Anonymous said...

When Barack Obama was elected I consoled myself with the thought that every politician I opposed did something I supported once elected. This raid is one of those things. Thank you, President Obama. I support fighting those who would do us harm, and I see beheadings as cruel in many ways. I think our enemies should expect that hostage-taking is followed by a visit from our special forces.

RecChief said...

Isn't a rescue attempt that fails like this better than leaving terrorists to make theater out of killing a man according to their schedule and their methods?

I don't know enough the operation to comment on that. However, a few years ago, terrorists in Russia took over a school, holding hundreds of kids hostage. Like all terrorists, they had demands. The price of not meeting those demands would be the death of all the children.In the rescue attempt, scores of children died, but something on the order of 80 percent survived. In addition, ALL of the terrorists were killed. Chechnya seems to have quieted down after that.

What I learned during my timein the middle east is that as a leader you can be urbane, sophisticated, generous and so on, but if you aren't absolutely ruthless when the other guy steps over the line, you're ignored and taunted. Killing your enemies without mercy is understood

"Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius." Amalric Arnaud

Owen said...

RecChief @ 8:46 AM:

"Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius." Amalric Arnaud

One of my favorites. Another is:

"Oderint dum metuant."

Diogenes of Sinope said...

If our enemies thought Obama was a "cowboy" there would be less kidnappings and murders of US citizens.

sane_voter said...

I wish the Special forces had drones that record the raids and we could see them slaughtering the scum in real time, like in a video game. That would be great video to counteract the snuff films they put out.

But that would likely teach the scum some of our SF tactics so probably out of the question.

khesanh0802 said...

Let's assume that this op was appropriately planned and given adequate resources. I heartily approve. It is unfortunate that the rescue was unable to save the hostages lives, but it sounds like it was close. Kudos to the forces involved.

Like so many commenting here I agree that the harder we hit the the less we will have to. Not every raid will successfully free the hostage, but every raid will reduce the number of available hostage takers and certainly limit the enthusiasm of those thinking about it.

Big Mike said...

Isn't a rescue attempt that fails like this better than leaving terrorists to make theater out of killing a man according to their schedule and their methods?

Yes, and every terrorist killed during the execution of the mission is someone who won't be on camera cutting off someone's head.

@Jim in St Louis -- I recognized the quote. For a guy who graduated Annapolis Carter always seemed pretty shy about employing his military.

The Drill SGT said...

sane_voter said...
I wish the Special forces had drones that record the raids and we could see them slaughtering the scum in real time, like in a video game.


Actually, you don't. This WH has been far too eager to reveal Special Ops "sources and methods" for short term political gains.

We need results, not Flacking...

A couple of the crypto vaults / SCIFs I served in had signs at the door:

"What you saw here, what you did here, when you leave here, let it stay here!"

Or as Secretary Gates said to that F'ing National Security Advisor / Lawyer Donilon after the Osama raid:

“By Wednesday of that week, Gates went to see Donilon, offering up a barbed assessment of how the White House had handled the aftermath of the raid. ‘I have a new strategic communications approach to recommend,’ Gates said in his trademark droll tones, according to an account later provided by his colleagues. What was that, Donilon asked? ‘Shut the fuck up,’ the defense secretary said.”

Paul said...

Well Jimmy Carter (you know WHO that guy was) also tried to save hostages Iran had.

He also tried to be a general and make the plans. Used to few helicopters and it failed... and failed badly.

Obama has no fire breathers for generals now. Just managers who calculate odds and use just (they think) enough to do the job.

And none have the guts to tell Obama to butt out and go in heavy and hard.

So way to go Barry. Just like everything else you touch it turns to shitko.

Meanwhile Hillary wants us to 'understand and feel' for our enemies.

I do to. We need to crucify the terrorist from Baghdad to Tehran to Damascus to Tripoli. One each 100 yards, just like the Romans did. THAT sends a message of how we 'feel' for them.

The Drill SGT said...

I do to. We need to crucify the terrorist from Baghdad to Tehran to Damascus to Tripoli. One each 100 yards, just like the Romans did. THAT sends a message of how we 'feel' for them.

"Oderint dum metuant."

On the other hand that uses a lot of wood.

I recommend "impalement" on an angle iron fence post.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/YARDGARD-2-1-4-in-x-2-1-2-in-x-7-ft-Metal-Heavy-Duty-U-Channel-Fence-Post-901157A/202024129?srccode=cii_10043468&cpncode=45-13334918-2&cm_mmc=shopping-_-shopzilla-_-D22-_-202024129

bgates said...

This is terribly sad. The good news is once the White House legend that is Barack Obama's hostage rescue heads to the screen it'll turn out much better.

kcom said...

You see plenty of people on here praising this action, even though it had an unfortunate outcome. That ought to teach the haters that opposition to the president isn't automatic. And it isn't because he's black. It's based on what he does. The difference between this case and Benghazi is that here he was "leaning forward" (hat tip: MSNBC) and in Benghazi he was leaning backward. Hillary was practically doubled over. It's never a good look on a president or Secretary of State.

Paul said...

SGT,

Well yes, Valid the Impaler WAS feared.

From "The Prince",

"It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both."

And no one, no country, can be loved by all.

Machiavelli knew a thing or two.

sane_voter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Obama prefers that murder could be committed in the privacy of a clinic. The sight of decapitated, dismembered, and bloody corpses of wholly innocent victims causes him discomfort. Even when and where there is cause, collateral damage should be a concern, but clearly is not and may be the sole intent. The cognitive dissonance must be deafening.

Unknown said...

Petti, touche. Rec, oderint by all means, but I think some of your facts on Beslan are off, I think some escaped and there were a lot of dead. Nord-Ost will also occur to you as a slaughterhouse and totally unnecessary. Your major point that Russia showing itself as the honey badger is effective, however, I agree with. Good or not, Russia showed such actions would be totally ineffective against them, because their own lives are worthless. Is this why Russian society is dying, because of a hundred years of worthlessness, maybe, but at least they're not giving in the the darkies (i forget the Russian, but Russians are very racist by our standards) an inch.

I think we play at proportionality and we don't seem to have any notion of hitting them where they're weak.

Steven said...

I'm not a military expert, so I hesitate to express an opinion on any military effort, but I want to say keep up this kind of pressure. Isn't a rescue attempt that fails like this better than leaving terrorists to make theater out of killing a man according to their schedule and their methods?

Absolutely. This was the right thing. The Berghahl ransom was a mistake that I'm glad we did not repeat, much like the Shalit ransom was a mistake that the Israelis should not repeat. Obama got this one completely right.

Gahrie said...

Obama has no fire breathers for generals now. Just managers who calculate odds and use just (they think) enough to do the job.

And none have the guts to tell Obama to butt out and go in heavy and hard.


I have been concerned about the number of senior military officers who have been forced out of the service for one reason or another during this administration. It seems to be excessive.

walter said...

"Another hostage, South African aid worker Pierre Korkie, was also killed during the operation - a day before he was due to be released."

Hmm. Good strategy/timing or needless risk to Korkie? Why were they supposedly going to release Korkie?

exhelodrvr1 said...

Jim in St. Louis and Rolling Stone,
Assumptions making them look silly!

Billy Oblivion said...

...Isn't a rescue attempt that fails like this better than leaving terrorists to make theater out of killing a man according to their schedule and their methods?

As long as everybody else in the room/building was killed, yes. Yes it is.

30yearProf said...

A principle at Army Infantry Officers course is "Don't do nothing." When in a conflict, take action to seize the initiative. If you do nothing you'll be dead for sure.

walter said...

At 6AM yesterday Yolande Korkie was thrilled at news that her husband, Pierre, held captive by al-Qaeda in Yemen for 19 months, would be making his way home today.

http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2014/12/07/pierre-korkie-killed-as-us-rescue-backfires1

Jeff Teal said...

At the time of the Iran hostage crisis I was a young ROTC student at a major university.I had lived in the same place as the crews of the AF aircraft and knew three of them.The considered military opinion of the time was that Carter acted too little and too late.In order to be an effective deterrent a response should be prompt and overwhelming.Rescue ops are usually in the end desperate shots-and we will do them anyway.Because we will TRY.BTW years later I met on of the assistant military attaches(legal spy) who spent the 449 days as a "guest" of the "students".He knew that Achminejad was one of his "interrrogators"What would have happened if Carter's response had been more robust?Cause and effect is speculative but some of us believe that we wouldn't be worried about an Aryan bomb.( Yes same root word)

walter said...

Gack my Dinnah jacket is considered the visible mouthpiece/court jester, no? Not the actual movers/shakers the mullahs are.

Jeff Teal said...

The mullahs weren't the ones studying nuclear physics.The "students" were.Part of the thinking was that a robust response would have led to more fractures between the religious and the educated.

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