Thursday, March 9, 2017

Boston Globe's Andrew Bacevich: 'The shameful selling of Ryan Owens'

Andrew Bacevich, a Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at the Boston University Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, writes views on current events that are uniquely different and worthwhile reading.

In his latest for the Boston Globe, ‘The shameful selling of Ryan Owens,’ he describes how Donald Trump’s tribute to Owens, the Navy Seal who lost his life in the Yakla raid in Yemen, and the first American combatant to die during the presidency of Donald Trump, was an “ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion” as an exercise in manipulation.”

Here is a snippet from Bacevich’s column:

"The emotional high point of the evening came when Trump paid tribute to the grieving widow Carryn Owens and to her deceased husband Ryan, a Navy SEAL killed during a raid in Yemen. A standing ovation ensued. For nearly two minutes, all attention focused on a tearful Carryn Owens. For a brief moment, her mourning became ours.

"With their trademark prurience, the television networks milked that moment for all it was worth. So too did Trump himself, remarking, “Ryan is looking down right now, you know that, and he’s very happy because I think he just broke a record,” presumably for sustained applause during a presidential address. “Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom,” the president added in his own display of spurious emotion. For that, “we will never forget him.”

"But we will, and for the most part already have. Certainly Trump and those around him have moved on. They have, for example, rejected demands by Ryan’s father for a formal investigation into the operation that took his son’s life. “Why,” William Owens has asked, “did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into [Trump’s] administration?” William Owens received no answer to his question. Nor did he attend the president’s address to Congress.

"Yet the contrast between the respect shown for the grief-stricken widow and that shown for the grief-stricken father reveals something important about American politics today.

"With near unanimity, we profess to hold the troops in high regard. We honor their service, as we rightly should. Yet there it stops, well short of even an approximation of accountability. Stupid missions and stupid wars continue without serious examination and almost without notice.

"And so, accompanied by ostentatious displays of spurious emotion, presidents get away with what in other contexts would qualify as murder."