Undeserved Eulogising Of John McCain Serves To Bolster An Imperialist Narrative

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Above Photo: From Morningstaronline.co.uk

John McCain is being glorified in the corporate media and by members of both parties from Senator Bernie Sanders to right wing Republicans like Lindsey Graham. Military weapons maker, Lockheed Martin praised John McCain and received an avalanche of criticism on Twitter. FOX News had to disable comments on a John McCain video because of all of the negative comments that were being posted. Senator John McCain was a reliable supporter for expanding military budgets and engaging in war. One highlight of his war-favoring career was when McCain jokingly sang “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” A war with Iran beginning with a mass bombing will kill more people than the shameful war with Iraq, that McCain supported, and make migrants of millions.

The article below focuses on his status as a “war hero” due to his actions and five years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. They describe his actions of bombing civilians in Vietnam as war crimes, not deserving of hero worship. In addition to supporting wars and militarism, McCain supported US regime change efforts through the National Republican Institute (NRI) which he chaired. The NRI is a project of the National Endowment for Democracy, which funded US regime change around the world. He helped to fund the coup in Ukraine and even went into the streets of Kiev to join the protests that toppled a democratically elected government. The most recent National Defense Authorization Act, the largest military budget ever, was named after him.

John McCain’s record on militarism and war in the Senate is the opposite of what we advocate. He stood in favor of every war in my lifetime. The catastrophe of the illegal massacre in Libya, the war being fought with US funded “moderate rebels” in Syria. The slaughter of Yemen — all these and more were perpetrated with John McCain’s signature.

Margaret Flowers’, the physician who co-directs Popular Resistance, last encounter with McCain was when she stood up before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing began to protest the US bombing of a hospital as a war crime. McCain, who chaired the committee, shouted to the police: “Arrest that woman.”  This vignette defines a man who has been made a hero because he was on a bombing run to kill Vietnamese civilians when he was captured, bookended by having a doctor arrest for stating the truth that bombing a hospital is a war crime.

We were initially not going to comment on the death of Senator McCain but seeing his history being used to glorify militarism required us to comment. We are sympathetic to his family and friends for their loss, but we are not sympathetic to McCain’s legacy being used to make war and militarism more acceptable in the US political dialogue. KZ

NO-ONE’S death should be celebrated, but nor should it be accompanied by undeserved eulogy as US senator John McCain’s is.

He is described in the US mass media, routinely echoed by our own subservient networks, as a war hero, but where is the heroism in bombing a major city to terrorise the population into surrender?

McCain’s F4 Phantom fighter bomber was shot down over the Vietnamese capital Hanoi in 1967, forcing him to parachute into Truc Bach lake where, given the nature of his injuries, he would have drowned but for local people who plunged into the water to rescue him.

Hanoi reported his capture and knew that his father and grandfather were both four-star admirals in the US Navy, making him a prime candidate for any prisoner exchange.

McCain made a statement apologising for his crimes against the Vietnamese people and expressing thanks for medical treatment that saved his life, but, after returning to the US in 1973, he said his confession was extracted through torture.

Hoa Lo Prison chief warder Nguyen Tien Tran was questioned later about the torture allegations, insisting: “We never tortured McCain. On the contrary, we saved his life, curing him with extremely valuable medicines that at times were not available to our own wounded.”

He told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that conditions in Hoa Lo were “tough, though not inhuman” and that it had been his job to keep the gravely injured US pilot alive.

Nguyen could, of course, be lying, so it would be a case of judging which side in the war was more inclined to the truth, the one resisting imperialist aggression or the other that admitted later that its pretext for stepping up military intervention — the 1964 Tonkin incident — was fabricated.

McCain’s war hero status passes virtually unquestioned in the US, except by Donald Trump who sought to diminish his Republican challenger for their party’s presidential nomination.

Trump derided the notion that McCain was a hero for being captured, declaring: “I like people that weren’t captured.”

He certainly ensured no personal danger of being captured in Vietnam, dodging the draft through a series of student deferments, as well as a medical diagnosis of protrusions caused by calcium built up on the heel bone.

His condition never needed an operation. Nor did it prevent him playing squash, gridiron and tennis at college or taking up golf at university and it later healed up of its own accord, according to Trump.

The future president’s good fortune was, like fellow chickenhawk George W Bush who shared his enthusiasm for overseas wars while believing that he shouldn’t have to fight in them, having family connections and an obliging medical professional.

Those who lacked these benefits — the poor, working class and disproportionately black — were press-ganged into Vietnam and subsequent dirty wars.

McCain’s reputation will not be tainted by Trump’s taunts, but nor should his own torture claims, backed by media and military, be swallowed without hesitation.

Vietnam was a resounding defeat for US imperialism, not only militarily when the world’s most powerful country was forced to flee South Vietnam with its tail between its legs but also morally because of global awareness of the scale of atrocities carried out against the civilian population.

Building up McCain, John Kerry and others as war heroes is a co-ordinated bipartisan strategy to retrospectively whitewash a dirty war by encouraging notions of nobility about those who prosecuted it.

By diminishing the enormity of its crimes, the Establishment seeks to make future imperialist wars more acceptable.

  • Alan MacDonald

    Something that all Americans from both proverbial side of the aisle and from John McCain to Bernie Sanders can agree on — in fact, maybe the only thing that all Americans can agree on politically, is that “We can’t be an EMPIRE”

    BTW, McCain did not fly an F-4 Phantom, but rather an A-4 Skyhawk.

    If McCain had been flying the Phantom, which has over 3 times the speed and 5 times the rate of climb of a Skyhawk he may not have been shot down, he might not have been tortured, nor a POW for 5 years.

  • subcomandante Felix

    Actually some deaths should be celebrated and McCain is one of the many powerful, rich white-male sociopaths that we should raise a toast to: “may he rot in Hell!” Let’s stop deluding ourselves, the world is an ever so slightly better place without white men like him.

  • chetdude

    In 1958, McCain barely missed being the “Anchor”, last in his class at Annapolis by coming in 2nd to last. An “overachieving” war monger to the end…

    ‘On the western lake shore of Trúc Bạch Lake, on Thanh Niên Road, in Hanoi,a monument has been erected commemorating McCain’s shootdown and capture.

    ‘The inscription, roughly translated, reads: “Here on 26 October 1967 at Truc Bach Lake in the capital city of Ha Noi, John Sidney McCain was shot out of the sky in his A4 aircraft by local militia citizens defending Yen Phu. There were 10 other planes shot down on the same day.”‘

  • chetdude

    “We can’t be an EMPIRE” — what a quaint notion since USAmerica has been an Imperial force since its creation.

    First grabbing a major portion of the Continent, then in the late 1800s-early 1900s officially becoming an international colonial power and then after WWII becoming the major global economic/hegemonic/military power…

    All for dust and ashes…

    (McCain had too many demerits to get an F4)