Sumanti Sen is an English Literature graduate who believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks.".
On October 26, 2019, a daring two-hour raid by US forces resulted in the death of Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi, Iraqi-born leader of the Islamic State. Needless to say, the world praised the US forces for their bravery and congratulated them on their success. It was a massive victory.
Soon after, US President Donald Trump delivered a speech announcing the death of Baghdadi on October 26.
However, despite the victory, one cannot help but compare Trump’s 30-plus minute speech to former US president Barack Obama’s speech, which had lasted less than 10 minutes, as he announced the death of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in 2011.
So striking are the differences between the two men’s approach to a very serious national security issue that it makes us wonder how different they must be as leaders. The comparison and contrast of the oratorical style of the 44th and 45th Presidents push us to compare the two men on several grounds.
Obama’s words had the gravity that should be there during the announcement of a dreaded terrorist’s killing. Trump’s words, on the other hand, were swaggering and boastful.
As Obama began to talk about the victory, he focussed on the people of America and how they have stood unitedly as a difficult operation was undertaken.
Here is what he said: “Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted attack in that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama Bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
Trump, on the other hand, believed that giving out details of the operation was more essential. In fact, he chose words that might as well make one sympathize with someone as dangerous as Baghdadi.
Trump said: “He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and screaming along the way. He died like a dog, he died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place.”
Obama’s words reassured us that we are always at war with the evil, but never with a religion.
Obama said: “We must also reaffirm that the United States is not, and will never be at war with Islam.”
On the other hand, Trump’s blunt words only make one uncomfortable: “Baghdadi and the losers that worked for him and losers they are – they had no idea what they were getting into. In some cases, they were very frightened puppies. In other cases, they were hardcore killers.”
Obama said: “So, we went to war against Al Qaeda to protect our citizens, Our friends and our allies. Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless work of our military and our counter-terrorism professionals, we have made great strides in that effort.”
As opposed to Obama’s short, crisp, reassuring lines of appreciation, Trump’s elaborate, exaggeration made it seem like he is talking more about himself than the troops.
Trump said: “US Special Operations Forces executed a dangerous and daring night time raid in northwestern Syria and accomplished their mission in a grand style. The US personnel were incredible. I got to watch much of it. It was a very very dangerous mission. Thank you as well to the great intelligence professionals who helped make this very successful journey possible.”
Here is what Obama said: “After a fire fight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.” “His death does not mark the end of our effort,” he added.
On the other hand, here are snippets of what Trump said: “They did a lot of shooting, and they did a lot of blasting, even not going through the front door,”
Trump continued. “You know, you would think you go through the door. If you’re a normal person, you say, ‘Knock, knock. May I come in?’”
To end the comparison on a note that yet again points at the glaring differences between the two speeches, here is what Obama said: “We give thanks to the men who carried out this operation.”
“May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America,” Obama added.
Trump, on the other hand, said: “I don’t get any credit for this, but that’s OK. I never do. But here we are.”
“I’m writing a book. I think I wrote 12 books. All did very well,” he said.
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