The news the ultra-hawkish, pro-war US Senator John ‘Bomb, Bomb, Iran’ McCain has been diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer has led to gushing eulogies to a great ‘hero’ of ‘freedom’ in elite circles in the US and other Western countries.
Brain cancer is a terrible disease, and no humane person would wish it on anyone. But does McCain‘s illness mean we have to sanitize his record of relentless warmongering and portray him as a 21st Century version of Mahatma Gandhi? It’s one thing not to jump on people when they are fighting for their life, but it’s quite another to ludicrously distort the historical record.
Take the Washington Post. They ran a hagiographic article at the weekend entitled “What we can learn from John McCain.”
“All over this world, Mr. McCain is associated with freedom and democracy. He has championed human rights with verve and tirelessness — speaking out against repression and authoritarianism,” the neocon newspaper bellowed.
But McCain’s champion of human rights and ‘freedom and democracy’ has been highly selective, to say the least, and has involved him associating with and supporting some very dubious characters.
In Ukraine, he met with far-right forces who wanted the forcible overthrow of the democratically elected government.
He shared a platform with the ultra-nationalist Oleh Tyahnybohk, who in 2004 had attacked what he called “the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine.”
Imagine the furor if say, the British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had met with such a figure. But the very neocon gatekeepers who attack Corbyn 24-7 were silent when McCain did.
In 2011, McCain praised the ‘heroic’ rebels in Libya – having repeatedly called for the anti-government fighters to be armed. But the ‘rebellion’ against Gaddafi was dominated by hardcore jihadists, many with links to Al-Qaeda, such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi and his father were associated with.
In Syria, as in Libya, McCain repeatedly lobbied for ‘rebels’ to be given military aid by the US, as well as calling for cruise missile strikes on government positions.
In 2013, the man described as “America’s leading advocate of intervention in the Syrian crisis” met with Syrian ‘rebels’– crossing into Syria illegally (little things like national sovereignty don’t matter much to neocons like McCain).
Two years later, the great ‘human rights crusader’ led a delegation of US Senators to meet that other well-known champion of human rights, Crown Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia and the commander of Saudi Arabia’s Syrian ‘rebel’training and equipment program.
Just think of the hundreds of thousands killed in Syria because of these McCain supported ‘training and equipment’ programs.
Most members of the human race think of sex (or going to the toilet) when they first wake up in the morning. But not John McCain. War is always on his mind.
“When John wakes up in the morning the first thing he says is Air strikes!’’ his friend Sen. Dick Lugar once said.
Do we think this is normal- and something to cheer? If so, heaven help us.
Having played his part in keeping the fires burning in Syria McCain reacted to the presence of ISIS there- by outrageously claiming that Russia’s Vladimir Putin was a greater threat than Islamic State.
One wonders what the families and loved ones of those killed in ISIS terrorist atrocities in the Middle East, Africa and around the world thought of that statement.
Since 2016, McCain has become a poster boy for many liberals because of his implacable opposition to Donald Trump. Incredibly – and rather obscenely- bearing in mind the millions who have died in wars in global south countries that McCain has supported or propagandized; for ‘progressives’ have been lining up to praise a hard-right warmonger who makes the late Ronald Reagan look like a joss-stick waving peace-loving hippy. British Labour MP David Lammy described McCain as “one of the best Republican candidates” of his lifetime.
This is about a man who joked, in a very unpleasant way, about bombing Iran and in 1983 voted against creating a Martin Luther King national holiday. It’s one thing to wish McCain “Get well soon,” it’s quite another to say he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread and The Beatles.
McCain loves to champion protesters and rebels in ‘Official Enemy’ countries but is less keen when Americans protest about the crimes of their government. “Shut up, or I’ll have you arrested,”he snarled at anti-war protesters who called in the Senate for the war crimes prosecution of the former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. “Get out of here you low-life scum,” he added.
For McCain terrorists who blow up government forces and kill civilians in Libya and Syria are ‘heroes,’ but conscientious peaceful protesters in his own country are ‘scum.’
Possibly the most laughably o.t.t. piece about the Arizona senator (and it’s a very crowded field) appeared in the National Review.
Entitled “Homo Americanus,” the article’s author argued that McCain is “as close to a great man as his generation has produced.” McCain’s illness is portrayed not just as a personal tragedy – but a national one.
“It is surely too much to say that McCain’s recovery will be America’s. But it is hard to envision America’s recovery without McCain’s.”
What utter rot. It’s the policies of endless war and ‘interventionism’ which McCain espouses which have got the US into its current mess.
To recover, and to get its public finances back in order, the US must return to being a republic and not an empire. McCain’s policies have been disastrous for his country and ordinary American citizens. And around the world, they have caused absolute chaos, as well as leading to a refugee crisis of Biblical proportions and significantly increasing the global terror threat.
Alas, there’s no sign as yet that McCain’s illness will change him. On the day his diagnosis was announced, he issued a bellicose statement on Syria,blasting Trump’s decision to end the CIA’s $1 billion-a-year covert arm-and-train program for Syrian ‘rebels’ and calling again, (for what must be the five millionth time) for the overthrow of President Assad, which he said must be a ‘key pillar’ of US policy.
The best thing we can hope for is that McCain recovers (he’ll certainly get better cancer treatment than the Syrians whose public health system he has helped to destroy), and then uses whatever time he still has on this planet to atone for his sins. We shouldn’t wish the Senator dead, despite all the damage he has caused around the world, but pray that he’ll one day join us, the ‘low-life scum,‘ marching against illegal wars of aggression he would earlier have supported.
I know that’s a 1000-1 shot, but it’s the nicest thing to do.
By Neil Clark