John McCain: The Return of “King Rat”
a commentary by TNTalk! writer, Leon Walker…
Is Senator John McCain a war mongering baby killer or a war hero?
When Jay Leno asked John McCain how many homes he had the other night it appeared to be in jest. A question that was only intended to poke fun or induce laughter from the crowd. Senator McCain however, immediately pivoted on the inquiry and launched into a tale about the deprivation of life as a prisoner of war. It was then that the stench began to overwhelm me as I realized the disgusting truth of what was transpiring. More and more frequently it seems that the POW cloak of safety is being utilized when Senator McCain finds himself in a difficult situation politically. As it relates to the thousands of others who so admirably served this politicizing of and trivializing of such an event is a despicable travesty.
There have been other examples of questionable or even clearly fabricated stories that have sprung from his Senator McCain’s actual POW experience. When campaigning in Pittsburgh earlier this year he claimed to have given his captors the names of the “Steelers” defensive line as names of his aircraft squadron mates. In Senator McCain’s book is was actually the Green Bay Packers that he named. Then when being interviewed by Pastor Rick Warren recently he told a story of a compassionate guard at the POW camp that drew a cross in the sand for him on Christmas so that they could worship together for a few minutes. Given his propensity to manipulate and pander using his misfortune, this story hardly seems believable or original.
There are many Americans who were and who remain severely disappointed, even angry about the way the Vietnam War was conducted and the way our service members were treated upon their return. There are also many Americans who remain disgusted at the carnage the United States wrought in Southeast Asia for no apparent good reason. Those Americans who protested in our streets and on college campuses and who were successful in getting the attention of the government, therefore contributing to stopping the Vietnam war. And yes, lest we forget, those who called our men in arms baby killers and war mongers. Today many Americans consider that the Vietnam conflict was a mistake that was horribly mishandled by our government. What’s worse, the cost in American dead will be long remembered as one of the greatest horrors in American history. This reality says nothing of those we killed there.
When the people can be convinced that their religion or way of life is being threatened, even from a distance, they can be thrust into a feverish and blinding darkness. Often it is far too late when we discover that our government was wrong, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Further, it must be clearly understood that such errors in judgment are sometimes thrust upon armies and citizens with substantial manipulation. Then, as with the Vietnam conflict, we are left to reflect and mourn our dead with no tangible positive results for our sacrifices.
Senator McCain was and remains a rabid advocate for continued aggression rather than withdrawal in the sovereign nation of Iraq. He advocates this aggression in spite of the fact that this country has buried thousands of dead and collected a staggering war debt. He advocates this approach in spite of the fact that the Iraqi government has now demanded that we declare a timeline for departure. Senator McCain has also recently turned his attention to the sovereign nation of Georgia, threatening U.S. military intervention against Russia. This now characteristic saber rattling must certainly seem foolish to the Russians as the world knows the United States has crippled itself militarily in Iraq and that we are therefore lacking in military resources. Let Americans not forget that he has also taken a stand against Iran that includes military intervention.
Senator McCain tells us we are now fighting “radical Islamic extremism” in Iraq and that we must stay there to finish the job and bring our troops home in victory. The problem is that nobody knows what “finish the job” means. Not even the Iraqis have a clue. In The Republic of Georgia, according to McCain, we are opposed to the spread of communism as well as committed to assisting an ally to preserve its freedom. And you know what? Nobody really knows what that means either! Of course the Iranians must stop the development of a nuclear program even though it is unclear what their nuclear intentions are at this point. There are also potential growing problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan, even North Korea.
Senator John McCain is a 20th century warrior. He is paralyzed by a cold war era mentality that drives his military ideas and stunted diplomatic logic. It is a simple equation that he understands and repeatedly puts forth as his mandate. Either threaten to kill people or actually kill people if they don’t subscribe to your political ideology. The concept of diplomacy is far too complex given his intellectual shortcomings and far too time consuming for someone of his irascible personality. He is a simple man of narrow ultra-conservative beliefs. Unfortunately he is also motivated by the violence of war and intoxicated by power. If the history of this nation over the past eight years has shown us nothing more, it is clear that the bully within our borders has produced more death and debt than any bully outside our borders. What will be the nation’s “bully bounty”?
Our government has become adept at hiding the death count from our own national media and our citizens. Our government has become adept at hiding the meaning of the trillion dollar war debt that we have already amassed in Iraq. However, our government has not been particularly good at convincing Americans that this nation is on the right track, that the war in Iraq was justified or what the clear mission is today. In fact, our government has not been particularly good at convincing Americans that solutions may be forthcoming to the many severe problems that must be faced here at home. What is worse, our government has been absolutely horrible at solidifying, building trust and encouraging cooperation among the world community.
One thing Americans know is that one of the two men who remain in this political contest owns seven homes and is a long time advocate of war. The other spectacle that we are beginning to see is that he holds little regard for those who suffer the perils of war and die in such conflicts. He has not opposed the cloaking of the returning dead and he now uses his story of having been a POW as armor against political attacks and questioning. Such a tactic seems terribly insulting to the thousands of honorable survivors who would never so selfishly or callously manipulate any situation by awakening such a tragic memory. Tell me Mr. and Mrs. America, does one who employs such unconscionable political ploys and advocates cranking up the war machine while raining death around the world whenever possible really have your best interests in mind?
Would a war hero really lie about what happened in a POW camp or use that sad memory for political advantage? Could anyone who so desperately thirsts for war pause for diplomacy when it is prudent, considering the toll in dead or the negative global impacts?
What will happen if you elect Senator McCain president? Will he continue to send America’s children off to die, to be wounded or to be scarred by the visions of killing others? Sadly, the only remotely positive result would be that he might finally be able to say that he won a battle. Perhaps his mentions of a selective service or draft would take root under his administration, ensuring no need for 21st century world diplomacy.
Is Senator John McCain a proud war hero or a war mongering baby killer? What I know is that those who promote the carnage of war on such a continuum and on such a grand scale make the term “pro-life” difficult to fathom.
It was James Clavell who wrote the original work “King Rat” about a POW who callously manipulated and victimized his fellow prisoners and the prison guards for personal gain. I’m thinking “The Return of King Rat” might be an interesting sequel.
Talk among yourselves and tell me what you think…
L. A. Walker, © Leon A. Walker