John McCain is dead, and the usual suspects of the centrist establishment have emerged to scold those who question why the standard-bearer for American imperialism has become an irreproachable hero overnight. They say that to speak ill of McCain now is to play politics with a dead man, even though praising him as profusely as they have is inherently a political act. Nevertheless, cable news, McCain’s henchmen and the late Senator’s posthumous cult of personality have demanded from opposing voices, “Where is your decency?”
The obvious reply is to ask where McCain’s decency was in a three-decade career where he agitated for at least a dozen wars. Or when he bombed Vietnamese peasants back to the stone age.
Decency died in the caves of Afghanistan in McCain’s 17-year war to prop up a corrupt narco-state. It died at McCain’s hands in a war of aggression against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and when McCain did the work of the al-Nusra front of Syria and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Decency died when McCain made nice with the neo-Nazis of Ukraine, when he backed Israel’s wars on Gaza and when he armed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as it massacred children in Yemen. Decency is dead, and John McCain killed it.
Prevailing opinion to the contrary, waging needless war is an act of mass murder; it doesn’t matter to the victim if he’s labeled collateral damage or homicide – he’s dead either way, and there’s nothing so permanent as death. McCain was a mass murderer through legal means, and the world is better off now that he’ll soon be six feet under like the Yemeni cancer patients whose healthcare system he destroyed. In fact, he’s already dead like all his victims, almost a million in number: more than 500,000 in Iraq, 100,000 in Afghanistan and mounting tolls everywhere else.
McCain inflicted suffering even after seeing firsthand what war had done in Vietnam. He told the New York Times in 1967, “Now that I’ve seen what the bombs and napalm did to the people on our ship, I’m not so sure that I want to drop any more of that stuff on North Vietnam.” Yet years later he flippantly sang “bomb bomb bomb” Iran and promised to occupy Iraq for 100 years. He denied Saudi war crimes in Yemen, like the bombing of weddings and funerals, and openly celebrated when Israel killed civilians in Gaza.
It takes a special kind of psychopath to understand the destruction McCain wrought and still call the late Senator “a man of tremendous courage, patriotism, and integrity,” like CIA martyr John Brennan did, or “a friend and partner in the fight for human rights and democratic values around the world,” like Madeleine Albright, who in 1996 said the price of 500,000 Iraqi lives from U.S. sanctions was “worth it.”
These are the moral leaders of a society bankrupt of moral value and of a population that believes presidential vulgarity is worse than killing thousands of people. These are the moral leaders of the world John McCain built.
Now we’re supposed to believe McCain was a paragon of virtue. Seriously? His motley crew of allies ranged in character from the war criminals of the Bush administration to the war criminal Henry Kissinger, whom he defended from “lowlife scum” protesters in a Senate hearing.
McCain’s biggest constituency was by far the military-industrial complex, with which he traded trillions in taxpayer giveaways for lobbying cash. His last major accomplishment, besides finally giving us the pleasure of seeing him die, was the behemoth $716 billion John S. McCain NDAA, which funded Lockheed Martin’s fighter jets, Raytheon’s bombs and the entire defense cabal’s Middle East terror wars. McCain profited in turn by taking more than $1 million from the arms industry during his career.
For McCain, human lives were simply a commodity to be exchanged, just like in the slave markets his intervention reestablished in Libya.
Freedom and human rights to him meant the freedom of America to dominate the world and the right of its vassals to act with impunity. His faux concern for the people of Syria and other authoritarian states ended where his fingerprints began: while speaking from one side of his mouth to lambast Assad, McCain said “thank God for the Saudis,” lauding his favorite theocrats for arming jihadist head choppers aligned with al-Nusra. He sought to make Russians and Iranians suffer with sanctions regimes that pushed millions into poverty, all the while claiming he stood alongside the populations.
When McCain died, leaders of the Saudi dictatorship and Israeli regime hailed him as a “true friend” of their respective countries. This is the same McCain who ignored both Saudi Arabia’s internal abuses and the plight of Palestinians living under occupation.
Now McCain is posthumously hailed as a hero for human rights the world over. The Washington Post’s resident neocon, Jennifer Rubin, wrote, “Whether it was Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, Cuba, China or anywhere else on the planet, McCain understood that America must be the friend, protector and advocate of oppressed people.” That’s rich! By the way, how are McCain’s efforts for human rights in Egypt going today?
It’s no surprise that the McCain cult has rushed around the late Senator and built a legacy that never existed. They did the same while he was alive, calling him a “maverick” for crossing the aisle to back some ineffectual pieces of legislation.
We’re supposed to believe McCain was a brave, heroic, dignified, valorous, and above all, decent American patriot who selflessly advocated for downtrodden masses. Some of us aren’t fooled.
And so where has our decency gone? Just ask John McCain.
Bio: Pablo Blart is a creation of the internet and can be found at the crossroads of autism and activism. Pablo can be reached at email@example.com.