This video from the USA is called McCain‘s YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare.
By Bill Van Auken in the USA:
18 June 2008
The Republican Party’s presumptive candidate for president, Senator John McCain of Arizona, is routinely referred to in the US media as a “Vietnam War hero.” In speech after speech over the past month, his Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama, has prefaced criticism of McCain’s policies with a declaration of his belief that the Republican is “a genuine war hero,” “a man who has served this country heroically” and “an American hero whose military service we honor.”
While conventional political wisdom would no doubt dismiss such rhetoric as, on the one hand, the packaging of the candidate by the Republicans and, on the other, a tactical feint on the part of a Democratic candidate lacking in military experience, the words have a far deeper and more ominous political significance.
What is the objective source of McCain’s designation as a “war hero,” a title that he parlayed into a successful political career bankrolled by the family fortune of his second wife [see also here] and abetted by the corrupt Arizona developer Charles Keating?
McCain, the son and grandson of four-star Navy admirals, was nearly a decade into a rather undistinguished career as a Navy pilot when he was shot down over North Vietnam in October 1967, landing him for the next five and a half years in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp.
Before his plane went down, he had spent about 20 hours in combat in the skies over Vietnam, dropping high explosives on the towns and people below during short flights from an American aircraft carrier parked in the South China Sea.
He had volunteered to participate in an operation known as “Rolling Thunder” launched by the Democratic administration of President Lyndon Johnson in an attempt to break the will of the Vietnamese people. The aim was to use sustained bombing to destroy the country’s economy and infrastructure and kill or maim large numbers of its citizens.
Before the war was over, US warplanes dropped close to eight million tons of explosives—four times the bombs dropped in all of World War II—on a country roughly the size of New Mexico. This, the most intense and sustained bombing campaign in history, devastated Vietnam’s cities and destroyed its industrial, transportation and communications infrastructure.
Before the war was over, some five million Vietnamese were killed, many of them victims of US aerial bombardments.
In his book Vietnam: A History, veteran journalist Stanley Karnow presents the account given by a Vietnamese peasant of one bombing raid: “The bombing started at about eight o’clock in the morning and lasted for hours. When we first heard the explosions, we rushed into the tunnels but not everyone made it. When there was a pause in the attack, some of us climbed out to see what we could do, and the scene was terrifying. Bodies had been torn to pieces—limbs were hanging from trees and scattered around the ground. The bombing began again, this time with napalm, and the village went up in flames. The napalm hit me. I felt as if I was burning all over, like a piece of coal. I lost consciousness. Friends took me to the hospital, and my wounds didn’t begin to heal until six months later. Over 200 people died in the raid, including my mother, sister-in-law and three nephews. They were buried alive when the tunnel collapsed.”
What is described here is not an act of heroism, but a war crime carried out by what was militarily the most powerful nation on earth against an impoverished and historically oppressed country.
When McCain was shot down, he was completing such a bombing run against a power plant in a heavily populated area of Hanoi.
McCain’s survival after parachuting into Hanoi is testimony to the humanity of the Vietnamese people and was owed in particular to one Vietnamese worker who swam into the lake where the wounded pilot had landed, pulled him out before he drowned and then protected him from an enraged crowd.
One can only imagine the reaction if a foreign pilot—whose own country was never attacked—were to parachute into Phoenix or any other US city or town after bombing raids that had torn men, women and children to pieces and reduced homes to rubble.
In a 1997 interview on the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” McCain frankly acknowledged, “I am a war criminal; I bombed innocent women and children.” It was an honest statement, though hardly a convincing argument for making him president.
The fact that he was a war criminal reflected not merely his own personal actions, which in terms of slaughter were no doubt every bit as devastating as a My Lai massacre, albeit inflicted from a longer distance. Rather it was a matter of the objective character of the war itself. Clearly there were many in the top echelons of the government, its military and intelligence agencies and in both major parties who bore far greater responsibility for the waging of a criminal and counterrevolutionary war of aggression in Vietnam.
The American ruling establishment has spent more than three decades attempting to revise the history of the Vietnam War in order to conceal its own responsibility for the greatest war crimes since the fall of the Nazis and to erase the political memory of US imperialism’s defeat under conditions of mass opposition and social struggles at home.
Kicking the “Vietnam syndrome” has been the stated aim within the ruling elite at least since the first Bush administration. It was hoped that the first Persian Gulf War and then the invasion of Iraq would somehow sweep aside the popular aversion to US wars of aggression that was the bitter legacy of Vietnam.
McCain’s admission in 1997 notwithstanding, his lionization as a war hero has very much been a part of this effort. Meanwhile, his own conceptions about the Vietnam war have played a decisive role in shaping his attitudes towards Iraq and a potential new war against Iran.
McCain’s POW Defense: Devaluing Our Service and His Own: here.
McCain and youth: here.
McCain cartoon: here.
McCain and Iraq: here.
FearWatch ’08: Keeping an Eye Out for GOP Fear-Mongering: here.
Iraqis on Obama vs. McCain: here.