Tuesday, August 26, 2008

John McCain deserves our respect...

...and a nice, uneventful retirement from his long and faithful service to the country.

Back in the mid-sixties, when the United States desperately needed young men to enlist in the armed forces, John McCain signed up to go over to the other side of the planet and kill a lot of gooks. I mean no snark when I say that this was an honorable thing to do -- under the circumstances -- and something that is deserving of our respect; nor should our respect be diminished in light of the unfortunate circumstance which has since arisen, i.e., that we have since discovered that it was a very stupid idea to go over to the other side of the planet and kill a lot of gooks.

At the time, the policy of the U.S. government was that if we did not engage in this type of "containment" action, we would eventually be overrun by communists. This policy was questionable, even at the time, in view of the expense of such actions in blood and treasure, and in view of a parallel line of rhetoric (which turned out to be 100% correct) which stated that the system of government called "democracy" and the system of economics known as "capitalism" were far superior to those known, respectively, as "totalitarianism" and "communism". In other words, if our systems of government and economics were so superior, then wouldn't they naturally prevail on their own, without the necessity of having to send hundreds of thousands of soldiers ten thousand miles away to fight a proxy war?

Nevertheless, at the time this was all thought to be a good idea, and was really only questioned by those dirty fucking hippies (who, at the time, were thought to be a bunch of spoiled college kids who simply used "peace and love" rhetoric because they lacked the courage to fight for their country -- a group easy to ignore from an ideological standpoint, but a bit harder to actually ignore, especially when there are thousands of them blocking up the streets). Of course, the DFHs turned out to be right. And, as it also turns out, the Communism-Containment ideology underpinning the Vietnam War was revealed to not have been its only underpinning; as we were to later learn, the enrichment of the military-industrial complex and the furtherance of the political fortunes of some of our leaders played a large role in the decisions to escalate that war and to stay in it a lot longer than circumstances warranted.

But and so nevertheless (again), John McCain couldn't have been expected to know all of this at the time. He did what he did out of a sincere desire to advance the vital interests of his country. No problem there. The problem arises when you understand that, even with the benefit of so much hindsight, and even though he himself turns out to have been one of the worst victims of all this, John McCain still failed -- and continues to fail -- to recognize all of the very important lessons which flow from these terrible mistakes made by the country's past leaders.

Vietnam was a mistake. A monumental waste of people, resources, and national energy. John McCain cannot recognize this. He feels that the mistake was in withdrawing without achieving "victory".

By the same token, Iraq was a mistake. A monumental waste of resources; a crazy and irresponsible squandering of the nation's influence, political capital, and general goodwill, made much worse by the fact that it was conceived in secrecy, its true purposes unknown and -- still -- unexamined, and then sold as something that it most decidedly was not. A boondoggle of historic proportions.

And John McCain cannot recognize this. He believes the mistake was not sending enough troops and equipment in the first place. He further believes it would now be a mistake to leave. Because to do so would preclude "winning" and "victory", never-you-mind what those concepts mean in the present context. "We must continue to fight, we must destroy the enemy, we must win and achieve victory." These are slogans, suitable for bumper stickers and mass-email subject headers. But the most cursory intellectual examination of them reveals that they are empty and meaningless, bereft of any substance, and persuasive only to the simple-minded.

But because we know that John McCain is an honorable man, that he would not use such vacuous arguments to mask a more sinister objective (as would Cheney, for example), we must then conclude that John McCain himself is simple-minded. That he lacks the capability to analyze, to inquire, to look beyond the most transparent appeals to emotion. That he is incapable of learning history's lessons.

John McCain is a courageous man. He has an admirable sense of duty to his country and to his countrymen. But he is a simple man. He does not possess a vigorous intellect or a curious mind. He relies on his gut. And his gut tells him that America has enemies, and that we must fight them.

And while I have just described a person extremely valuable -- and worthy of praise -- as a soldier, I have also described someone extremely dangerous as a president.


Gleemonex said...

Good lord. You are on FIRE here. Best explication of the issue of John McCain that I have read anywhere.

Kingfish said...

fookin A bubba!