The canonization of John McCain: the media and the political elite transform the belligerent into a saint
3 September 2018
"I hated my enemies even before they held me prisoner because hatred supported me in my dedication to their complete destruction and helped me overcome the virtuous human impulse to surrender with disgust at what was to be done by my hand." John McCain on the Vietnam War, April 2001
"Despite the inebriating nature of a call to arms or the justice of the cause, we should still shed a tear for all that will be lost when the war demands our debt.Take a tear and keep killing our enemies as fast as possible and ruthlessly how we should – John McCain, October 2001.
The media and theinstitution The American politicians are in the middle of the debauchery of moral hypocrisy, of the spells and they embark on the creation of a myth for five days on the occasion of the death of the Republican Senator John McCain. The operation involves almost all news agencies, newspapers and politicians, Democrats and Republicans, following a scenario in preparation since McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago – John McCain, "American Hero" , the "warrior", the "maverick", someone like the world will never see again.
On Thursday, a ceremony was held in Arizona with the speeches of former Vice President Joe Biden and others, ending with the transmission of "My Way" by Frank Sinatra. From there, McCain's body was brought to Washington, where his body was exposed in the Capitol roundabout yesterday, a distinction that was only granted to another 30 people. McCain's coffin was placed on the wooden catafalque originally built for President Abraham Lincoln after his assassination in 1865 – one of the many political obscenities related to this affair.
Friday was dedicated to the speeches of members of Congress, politicians and soldiers gathered. McCain was a "generational leader" (Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell); "One of the bravest souls that our country has ever produced" (Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House); one of those who "put the country first, that give priority to service, that invite idealism into a" was cynical "(Vice-President Mike Pence). The media's attitude was summarized by CNN's "journalist" Dana Bash, who said: "The angels were crying" because it rained when McCain's coffin was brought to the United States Capitol.
The main memorial service is held today in Washington, with the eulogy of former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, former Secretary of State and war criminal Henry Kissinger, before McCain's body was buried near the Naval Academy of Annapolis, Maryland, Sunday. The actor Warren Beatty, a Democratic supporter and a friend of McCain, who will be accompanied by Biden, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, and Russian anti-Putin dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza.
Biden's Thursday speech set the tone for what followed. "My name is Joe Biden," he began, "I'm a Democrat, and I loved John McCain, he considered McCain" a brother "and while they had" many family fights ", these differences were obscured by what they had in common. Obama's vice president, who beat McCain in the 2008 election, echoed Obama's comments on the 2016 election – an "intramural fight" between two factions of the same team.
"The story of John is an American story," said Biden, "is American history, based on respect and decency, fundamental correctness, intolerance to power abuse." Many of you are traveling. for the world, looking at the world, they consider us a little naive, so fair, so decent, we're naive Americans, that's what we are, that's what John was. "
What can one say about such absurdities? The US government and its armed forces are despised all over the world, responsible for inflicting death and destruction in countless countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and many others. This "dignified" government declares the right to kill anyone, to invade any country, to overthrow any government that is on its way. The operational style of this "only so" ruling class is that of intimidation, threats and violence.
It is with the unbridled use of military force that McCain is most closely associated with. He was one of the first supporters of the 2003 war in Iraq, the Obama administration war on Libya and the operation supported by the CIA in Syria. In support of this, he traveled to Syria and met Islamic fundamentalist organizations at the head of the civil war. He was a staunch defender of aggression against Iran and a staunch opponent of any restriction on the US military budget.
The coordinated and choreographic response to McCain's death is determined by well-defined political considerations. First, there is the clash of factions within the ruling class between the dominant sections of the military intelligence apparatus and the Trump administration. McCain played a central role, in alliance with the Democratic Party, in the anti-Russia campaign to enforce a more aggressive foreign policy in Syria and against Russia itself. In the media, much was said about McCain's detailed instructions for his last trip out of the world, where he would work for months, including the request that Trump should not participate.
The Democrats – from Biden and Obama to the representatives of the "left" like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – seized the opportunity to associate themselves with a personality who, throughout his life, maintained the closest connections with the ;army. Always anxious to declare their loyalty to this apparatus of violence, the Democrats have raised, with the former director of the CIA, John Brennan, in their political pantheon, to better guide their opposition to Trump on the basis of the rightmost possible.
More fundamentally, the response to McCain's death is another important step in the rehabilitation of the Vietnam war. Since the early days of the Reagan administration, the overcoming of the "Vietnam Syndrome", ie massive popular hostility to military intervention, was a political imperative of the ruling class. It was George W. W. Bush who, at the end of the first war in Iraq in 1991, declared prematurely: "By God, we got rid of the Vietnam syndrome once and for all."
The effort to develop a new political psychology to justify a permanent and endless war requires a falsification of history. In all the hosannas of McCain's heroism in Vietnam, there is not an ounce of critical comments about the character of this war, a barbaric imperialist intervention that killed three million Vietnamese and nearly 60,000 American soldiers . In the ten years between 1961 and 1971, the US Army committed countless atrocities and poured over 20 million gallons [plus de 75 000 m3] of toxic chemicals in Indochina, turning a third of Vietnam into a wasteland.
McCain himself was more honest about the nature of the war when he reflected on this experience in 2001. The first quote above is from a commentary written in April of the same year to defend former Senator Bob Kerrey after this quest. 39. He admitted that he participated in a death squad attack in the small village of Thanh Phong in the Mekong Delta. In this attack, he and six soldiers under his command killed 21 women, children and elderly men.
With the title: "Bob Kerrey, Hero of War", McCain's defense was a crude justification for war crimes. Much has been said about the fact that McCain came to promote reconciliation with Vietnam and better relations with the country, linked to the American conflict with China. However, nothing in his statements indicates that he ever deplored the role of the United States in the war. On the contrary the second quotation above, taken from a chronicle of Wall Street Journal written by McCain in October of the same year ("There is no substitute for the victory"), clarifies that he saw brutal and systematic violence in Vietnam as a model for "the wars of the 21st century" .
The effort to end the "syndrome of Vietnam" has led not only to the falsification of history, but also to the elevation of the army's place in the political life of the country. The deification of McCain, the military statesman, the "war hero" is one of these. Until the 1990s, soldiers were not considered "warriors". Most veterans of the two world wars, not to mention Korea, did not want to talk about their war experiences and certainly did not want to wear a military uniform.
Today, military and intelligence services play an increasingly important role in American life. The army is integrated with the media and the media are integrated. Politicians, Democrats, if not more, Republicans, cite their military background and intelligence services as the most important qualifications for the job. The universal glorification of the army expresses the course of American bourgeois democracy under the effect of unsustainable social inequalities, a political radicalization of workers and young people and a deep and constant fear on the part of the ruling class that its project of conquest imperialist and social counterrevolution will encounter mass resistance.
A final point on the canonization of John McCain. Perhaps the defining characteristic of the operation is its empty and artificial nature, its disconnection from the worries and thoughts of the overwhelming majority of the population. No matter how much they do to make McCain a political and moral giant, most people do not care about his death. McCain is beautiful and well dead and will quickly disappear from popular consciousness. The first anniversary of his death and all those that follow will go unnoticed.
(Article published for the first time in English on September 1, 2018)