Is bombing Vietnamese civilians ‘war heroism’?

This 2007 video is called Vietnam: American Holocaust – Bombing Vietnam.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Monday, August 27, 2018

The undeserved eulogising of John McCain serves to bolster an imperialist narrative

NO-ONE’S death should be celebrated, but nor should it be accompanied by undeserved eulogy as US senator John McCain’s is.

He is described in the US mass media, routinely echoed by our own subservient networks, as a war hero, but where is the heroism in bombing a major city to terrorise the population into surrender?

McCain’s F4 Phantom fighter bomber was shot down over the Vietnamese capital Hanoi in 1967, forcing him to parachute into Truc Bach lake where, given the nature of his injuries, he would have drowned but for local people who plunged into the water to rescue him.

Hanoi reported his capture and knew that his father and grandfather were both four-star admirals in the US Navy, making him a prime candidate for any prisoner exchange.

McCain made a statement apologising for his crimes against the Vietnamese people and expressing thanks for medical treatment that saved his life, but, after returning to the US in 1973, he said his confession was extracted through torture.

Hoa Lo Prison chief warder Nguyen Tien Tran was questioned later about the torture allegations, insisting: “We never tortured McCain. On the contrary, we saved his life, curing him with extremely valuable medicines that at times were not available to our own wounded.”

He told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that conditions in Hoa Lo were “tough, though not inhuman” and that it had been his job to keep the gravely injured US pilot alive.

Nguyen could, of course, be lying, so it would be a case of judging which side in the war was more inclined to the truth, the one resisting imperialist aggression or the other that admitted later that its pretext for stepping up military intervention — the 1964 Tonkin incident — was fabricated.

McCain’s war hero status passes virtually unquestioned in the US, except by Donald Trump who sought to diminish his Republican challenger for their party’s presidential nomination.

Trump derided the notion that McCain was a hero for being captured, declaring: “I like people that weren’t captured.”

He certainly ensured no personal danger of being captured in Vietnam, dodging the draft through a series of student deferments, as well as a medical diagnosis of protrusions caused by calcium built up on the heel bone.

His condition never needed an operation. Nor did it prevent him playing squash, gridiron and tennis at college or taking up golf at university and it later healed up of its own accord, according to Trump.

The future president’s good fortune was, like fellow chickenhawk George W Bush who shared his enthusiasm for overseas wars while believing that he shouldn’t have to fight in them, having family connections and an obliging medical professional.

Those who lacked these benefits — the poor, working class and disproportionately black — were press-ganged into Vietnam and subsequent dirty wars.

McCain’s reputation will not be tainted by Trump’s taunts, but nor should his own torture claims, backed by media and military, be swallowed without hesitation.

Vietnam was a resounding defeat for US imperialism, not only militarily when the world’s most powerful country was forced to flee South Vietnam with its tail between its legs but also morally because of global awareness of the scale of atrocities carried out against the civilian population.

Building up McCain, John Kerry and others as war heroes is a co-ordinated bipartisan strategy to retrospectively whitewash a dirty war by encouraging notions of nobility about those who prosecuted it.

By diminishing the enormity of its crimes, the Establishment seeks to make future imperialist wars more acceptable.

United States Senator McCain, sycophantic eulogies and truth

This video from the USA says about itself:

Warmonger John McCain warmongering before it was cool to warmonger

Senator John McCain wanted to overthrow Libya and Iraq‘s governments long before that happened. We all know how that went. Yet he still wants to bomb more countries and change more regimes. Thank you Arizona for this precious gift.

Now that United States Republican Senator John McCain has died, one can hear sycophantic eulogies from different factions of the establishment.

Eg, President Donald Trump, who clashed with McCain while he was alive, ordered White House flags to be flown at half-mast.

Time for less sycophantic voices.

In this repost of a Truthdig article from 2008, Editor in Chief Robert Scheer evaluates Sen. John McCain during his candidacy for the presidency, calling him a politician who sometimes displayed “sophisticated enlightenment” but whose support of the Iraq War disqualified him to be the nation’s chief executive.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Why the US ruling class mourns John McCain

27 August 2018

There is a well-known saying, of murky Latin origin, that one should not speak ill of the dead. But when the death of an individual becomes the occasion for such universal glorification by the political establishment and the media, as with Senator John McCain of Arizona, a correction is in order. This is especially necessary since the newly deceased had such a lengthy record as a militarist and supporter of political reaction, and the further promotion of such policies is the transparent purpose of the hosannas being sung in his praise.

The Sunday television interview programs on five networks devoted the bulk of their coverage to McCain’s life and career and to fond reminiscences by well-heeled journalists and big-business politicians, Democratic and Republican. “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd noted that McCain was the single most-interviewed person on the program, appearing 73 times in his 36-year political career.

McCain was a right-wing Republican, but the loudest tributes to his political record are coming from Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer proposed renaming the US Senate’s Russell Office Building. Instead of Richard Russell of Georgia, a Democratic Party defender of Jim Crow segregation, the building would now be named after a Republican defender of wars in Vietnam, Central America, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, etc.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “Right now I’m just heartbroken. I think America’s in tears about the loss of this great man.” …

McCain spent four years in the House of Representatives and 32 years in the US Senate, but it would be impossible to cite a single piece of legislation with which he was associated that benefited the broad mass of the American people. As far as domestic affairs were concerned, he was best known for voting (in the House) against the bill that established a national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In the Senate, he was the lone Republican among the “Keating Five”, senators who lobbied federal regulators on behalf of savings and loan swindler Charles Keating in 1987.

The political embarrassment caused by this episode, in which McCain narrowly avoided sanctions by the Senate Ethics Committee, led to his involvement in a decade-long effort to establish at least token limitations on corporate contributions to political campaigns. But the McCain-Feingold bill, as it became known, was ultimately gutted by the Supreme Court, which rejected most limitations on corporate purchasing of legislators as an infringement on “free speech”. Throughout his career, McCain was a reliable vote for the Republican right—for the Gramm-Rudman Act to slash federal social spending, for the impeachment conviction of President Bill Clinton, and for (with a few exceptions) measures to deregulate business and cut taxes for the wealthy.

The overriding feature of McCain’s career, however, was his reflexive hawkishness on foreign policy. He supported war after war, intervention after intervention, always promoting the use of force as the primary feature of American foreign policy, and always advocating the maximum allocation of resources to fuel the Pentagon. In his honor, after his diagnosis with brain cancer made it clear that he was unlikely to survive this year, his Senate colleagues named the 2018 version of the Pentagon budget bill the John McCain National Defense Authorization Act.

McCain’s identification with militarism began with his family background: his father and grandfather were both admirals and now have US Navy warships named after them. McCain graduated from the Naval Academy and became a pilot, leading to his capture in Vietnam and five-and-a-half years of imprisonment. No doubt the circumstances he faced there were very difficult, but any sympathy must be tempered by the fact that he became a POW after dropping bombs on largely defenseless people, making him a front-line participant in one of the greatest war crimes in history, the savage American onslaught on Vietnam.

As the World Socialist Web Site noted in a commentary published after McCain sought to lecture the Vietnamese in 2000 about their political and economic policies:

“While McCain gives sermons to the Vietnamese, let us recall that American military forces carried out mass executions, bombed civilians, defoliated half the country, carried out rape and torture, burned villages, shot children, threw prisoners out of helicopters and cut off the ears of people both alive and dead, keeping them as mementos and trading them for cans of beer. Not every soldier perpetrated such crimes individually, of course, but the military intervention as a whole was of a brutal, anti-democratic, imperialist character, which inevitably found expression in such sadistic conduct.”

Once freed following the Paris agreement between Washington and Hanoi, McCain came home a “war hero”, married the daughter of a multimillionaire beer distributor in Arizona, and moved to that state to begin a career in Republican politics. First elected to the House of Representatives in 1982, he backed the US invasion of Grenada in 1983 and the Reagan administration policy of supporting fascist forces in Central America, including death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala and the contra terrorists at war with Nicaragua (he was on the board of the US Council for World Freedom, the American chapter of the World Anti-Communist League, for several years). After succeeding Barry Goldwater in the US Senate in 1986, he backed the first Bush administration’s invasion of Panama in 1989 and the full-scale American war against Iraq in 1990-91, during which hundreds of thousands of Iraqi conscripts were incinerated by American bombs, rockets and shells.

After some initial reluctance, McCain backed the Clinton administration’s military threats in Bosnia, including the bombing of Serb forces, and then in 1999 cheered the full-scale bombing of Serbia, declaring that the United States could accept no limitation on its military operations in support of its aims in Kosovo: “We’re in it, and we have to win it. This means we have to exercise every option.”

Like virtually every other Democrat and Republican, he supported the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, launching a war that is now approaching the end of its 17th year, the longest in American history.

It was in the second Iraq War that McCain played his most prominent and reactionary role, cosponsoring the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, along with Democrat Joe Lieberman, endorsing the bombing of Iraq, first under Clinton and then George W. Bush, cheerleading the 2003 invasion and then pushing for a more aggressive use of force during the protracted US occupation, culminating in Bush’s “surge” of additional troops in 2006-2007.

McCain was a full-throated supporter of whatever lie the Bush administration chose as the basis of its war propaganda: Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to terrorism; his possession of “weapons of mass destruction”; the desire to establish “democracy” in Iraq; and finally, the need to preserve “stability,” i.e., to deal with the consequences of the US destruction of Iraq as a functioning society.

Along the way, McCain found time to advocate military action against North Korea in 2003, US intervention in Iran in 2007, and US support for Georgia in the war between Russia and that Caucasian republic in 2008 (when he dispatched his wife Cindy to Tbilisi in a show of support).

McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign was defeated, in part because of popular hostility to the war in Iraq, with which he was so identified, and partly because of his failure, during the financial crisis of September 2008, to respond as quickly as Obama to the demands of Wall Street for a full-scale federal bailout of the banks.

Throughout the Obama administration, McCain was a firm supporter of the Democratic president when he used military force, as in Libya, or threatened it, as in the South China Sea, and a critic when Obama pulled back, as in Syria. McCain and John Kerry introduced a Senate resolution to sanction the war in Libya, and McCain called for US air power to be used in “a heavier way”. In September 2013, McCain backed a resolution passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to give US support to military operations in Syria that would “change the momentum on the battlefield” and strengthen forces opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. He repeatedly called for “more boots on the ground” for the US-backed war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

In October 2016, while the Democratic Party was focusing its presidential campaign on alleged Russian “meddling”, McCain authored an op-ed column published in the Wall Street Journal in which he indicted Russia for having “slaughtered countless civilians” in Syria through “relentless indiscriminate bombing”. There was no little irony in the former bomber of North Vietnam denouncing Russia for doing a tiny fraction of the damage inflicted by the “shock and awe” campaign in Iraq, which led to one million deaths and which McCain supported enthusiastically.

We have noted the embrace of McCain’s legacy by his supposed opponents in the Democratic Party. This is not merely the result of McCain’s support for the bogus allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, peddled by the Democrats and much of the military-intelligence apparatus. More than a decade ago, in the summer of 2004, there were back-channel discussions between Kerry and McCain, in which the Democratic nominee suggested the formation of a bipartisan presidential ticket, with McCain running as his vice-president, to oppose the reelection of George W. Bush. McCain toyed with the idea, but ultimately decided to remain with the Republicans.

In 2007, when his second campaign to seek the Republican presidential nomination was floundering in its initial stages, McCain was interviewed on the “60 Minutes” program on CBS about the mounting opposition to the war in Iraq. “At what point do you stop doing what you think is right and you start doing what the majority of the American people want?” he was asked. McCain responded, “I disagree with what the majority of the American people want.” The Wall Street Journal hailed this response—which essentially rejected popular sovereignty as the basis of democracy—as “McCain’s Finest Hour.”

It is this absolute commitment to the defense of American imperialism that endeared McCain to the US ruling elite as a whole and explains the outpouring of adulation over the weekend.

The author also recommends:

McCain in Vietnam: the ugly face of American imperialism
[3 May 2000]

John McCain in Ann Arbor: a cowardly evasion on US war crimes
[9 December 2005]

John McCain at VMI: A blunt statement of US imperialism’s stake in Iraq
[13 April 2007]

Saturday’s memorial service for Senator John McCain, held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and broadcast on a half dozen television and cable networks, was an officially sanctioned tribute to militarism and war. Honoring the arch-warmonger McCain, a fervent supporter of US aggression from Vietnam to Syria and Yemen, were presidents, vice presidents, senators, congressmen and national security officials of the two parties of American imperialism: here.

WARD: ‘POLITICAL CORRECTNESS LIKE A CANCER’ Republican [pro-Trump] Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward likened political correctness to “cancer” in a tweet after she was criticized for suggesting the late Sen. John McCain’s cancer battle was timed to hurt her political campaign. [HuffPost]

United States Senator John McCain dies

This video from the USA today says about itself:

BREAKING NEWS: John McCain Has Died. Here’s His Great and Terrible Record

Senator John McCain has died. Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks down his long record in office.

Senator McCain was a politician of, and the 2008 (defeated) presidential candidate of, the United States Republican party.

The first ever Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, abolished slavery in the nineteenth century.

In the twentieth century, Republican President Eisenhower warned against the military-industrial complex; which had grown ominously during his presidency. In Eisenhower’s days, the richest 1% people paid about 90 % income tax. And that did not make the sky crashing down on earth, contrary to prophecies of doom by pro-Big Business pundits.

In the twenty-first century of Republican presidents George W Bush and Donald J Trump, their party has degenerated into a party for supporters of endless bloody wars. Into a party of the rich getting ever richer and the poor poorer: the very richest people now pay no tax or hardly any tax, with the consent of both Republican and corporate Democrat politicians. And a party of whitewashing of racism.

This 24 August 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

War Criminal Begs Trump For For-Profit Wars On Fox News

A fairly well-known tactic in today’s political world is this: if you want to get President Donald Trump’s attention, there is no more effective way than to go on Fox & Friends (his favorite television show) and make a public appeal for a policy change.

Read more here.

The war criminal of that video is Erik Prince, Republican party supporter and founder of the infamous Blackwaterparamilitary mercenary corporation. The brother of Trump’s Secretary of (Mis-)Education Betsy DeVos, Prince benefited much from George W Bush’s and Donald Trump’s wars.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Erik Prince‘s Push to Privatize the Afghanistan War

25 August 2018

Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince is now lobbying to deploy mercenaries instead of the US military in order to bring the 17-year war in Afghanistan to an end. We discuss the proposal with Antony Loewenstein, author of “Disaster Capitalism”.

How did that shift in the Republican party happen? The 1964 Goldwater presidential candidacy, the Richard Nixon presidency with its pro-racist ‘southern strategy’, the Reagan presidency, the Koch brothersastroturf ‘Tea Party’ with its calls for stoning gays to death, are some of the milestones. What was the role of Senator McCain?

The short answer to that question is: McCain was not always himself on the far right of his party; eg, he voted to stop the ‘Trumpcare’ plan to wreck healthcare. Yet, he contributed to that rightward shift; eg, by his warmongering, his denialism about the economic crisis and his empowering of the lunatic fringe by making Sarah Palin his vice presidential candidate in 2008.

Let us look first at McCain and wars.

The corporate media usually called McCain a ‘war hero’ because he had bombed Vietnam. War hero? Others call him a ‘war hawk’ and ‘war criminal’ for killing Vietnamese civilians and subsequent views on wars.

The brain cancer which killed McCain was possibly caused by toxic Agent Orange dropped massively by the United States Air Force over Vietnam; still killing many Vietnamese civilians and United States and allied veterans.

McCain supported the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, parts of George W Bush’s ‘war on terror‘.

Bush-McCain hug

Yet, he was sometimes critical of the Bush administration’s policies of torture included in that ‘war on terror’. Sometimes: McCain flip-flopped on torture.

He said there should maybe be United States war on Iraq for a hundred more years.

In 2007, he made a notorious propaganda visit to war-stricken Iraq.

On the other hand, McCain was unusually honest for pro-Iraq war politicians as he admitted that war was about oil.

McCain admitted as well that Bush’s Iraq war had killed “hundreds of thousands” of Iraqis. Though that was still less than realistic estimates of over a million dead, it was more than what George W Bush and his warmongering supporters in politics and in the corporate media were willing to admit.

Then, in 2011, came the bloody war for regime change in Libya; when McCain flip-flopped from Gaddafi buddy to buddy of Gaddafi’s al-Qaedaish enemies.

In September 2013, a war escalation in Syria threatened; an escalation in which the United States and other NATO governments would have become allies of ISIS and other jihadists. The peace movement, especially in Britain, just managed to stop it.

Senator McCain then spent the debate on that war threat playing poker on his iPhone. Senator John McCain was not interested in hearing arguments for, and especially not against, war on Syria. He had already said that even the Obama administration’s war plans were not war-like enough, as he wanted an official still bloodier war for regime change. Comedian Will Rogers famously said that he never met anyone he did not like. It looks like John McCain never met a war he did not like.

Well: not completely ‘never’. McCain often flip-flopped; including on wars.

This 2007 video from the USA on political flip-flops is called John McCain vs. John McCain.

Two years after his 2013 failure to have a full-scale Pentagon war on Syria, Senator McCain stoked war in Syria along with the dictatorships Saudi Arabia and Qatar (whose conflict then had not yet become apparent).

A particular low in McCain’s warmongering is his perverting of the Beach Boys song Barbara Ann, changing the words to ‘Bomb, bomb Iran’. Even though McCain’s top strategist was a lobbyist for an Iran-linked corporation.

This 19 April 2007 video shows McCain singing ‘Bomb, bomb, Iran‘.

In economics, McCain, like both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, was a fossil fuel politician, neglecting climate and other environmental hazards. His slogan ‘Drill, baby, drill!‘ advocated more oil drilling, risking more oil spills like the big BP spill.

As for racism, now whitewashed by the Trump administration, some of the origins of its resurgence are in the McCain/Sarah Palin campaign in 2008.

McCain cartoon by Mikhaela

This is a 2008 McCain cartoon by Mikhaela in the USA.

On the eve of the last presidential election debate, Republican candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin faced big losses in public opinion polls because of their negative campaigning and racism among their supporters.

As for the “Hussein” in the cartoon, that’s Obama; not Saddam Hussein whom McCain’s top adviser William Timmons used to work for.

In 2008, singer Madonna even compared McCain to Hitler.

While equating McCain to Hitler definitely goes too far, counterweight to the sycophantic obituaries now in the corporate media is necessary.

The canonization of John McCain: Media, political establishment turn warmonger into saint: here.

US Vietnam war Agent Orange brain cancer and Senator McCain

This video from the USA says about itself:

Sheree Evans Releases Book About Agent Orange and Glioblastoma

14 February 2015

I spent the summer of 2013 riding my motorcycle coast to coast, giving talks about serious health issues that face American veterans. The ride, called “Operation Red Dragonfly,” was organized by a widow in Missouri named Sheree Evans, who goes by the nickname of Tiger.

As I covered more than 11,000 miles in roughly two and a half months, Tiger helped me gain access to many vets who live in the dark with regard to serious [diseases]. I spoke to veteran-oriented audiences all over the US about health hazards they face from serving in uniform. These include contamination from cancer-causing military base toxins, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and Agent Orange, a chemical defoilant sprayed over the jungles of Vietnam during the US war there.

When I first met Sheree Evans, I knew I was dealing with a special person, who was experiencing a bittersweet victory. Sheree’s husband, Tommy Evans, served in the Vietnam War as a Marine. His body was contaminated with dioxins from Agent Orange, a toxic chemical sprayed over the jungles of Vietnam that has claimed more than a million innocent lives.

In February 2011, I wrote an article about Sheree’s tireless efforts to push Tommy’s illness, a rare brain cancer called Glioblastoma, onto the record… so the Veterans Administration would in part, be forced to accept and admit that Agent Orange had a direct relationship to “Glio” as the disease is often referred.

Dedicated and unwilling to take no for an answer, Sheree Evans made history as her husband did, and I wrote about it in an article called, “Wounded by the Vietnamese, Killed by Monsanto.”

Now Sheree has written her first book, which recalls the story of her husband Tommy, and many other vets and their families, all impacted by Glioblastoma and similar illnesses that the U.S. government has fought to avoid responsibility for.

No words can properly underscore the immense value of Sheree Evans‘s new book, “By the Grace of God – A Promise Kept,” it is an extremely important addition to any veteran’s library, the information is vital and potentially life saving.

Even more importantly, the book is created to give hope to others who, like Sheree, are faced with the most difficult hardships because of U.S. government policy and a company called Monsanto, that prospers from the death its products inflict on human beings, there is no excuse for what Monsanto has done.

By Charles Ornstein / ProPublica and Mike Hixenbaugh / the Houston Chronicle in the USA:

McCain’s Brain Cancer Draws Renewed Attention to Possible Agent Orange Connection

For years, Vietnam vets and their widows have been pushing the VA to extend benefits to those exposed to the toxic herbicide and later stricken with glioblastoma. The VA has said no, but advocates hope the agency will now revisit the issue.

When Amy Jones’ dad, Paul, was diagnosed with glioblastoma last month, she wondered whether it might be tied to his time in Vietnam.

Then, last week, when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also a Vietnam veteran, was diagnosed with the same aggressive brain cancer, Jones searched online for glioblastoma and Vietnam vets.

She soon learned the disease is one of a growing list of ailments that some Vietnam veterans and their relatives believe is caused by exposure to Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide sprayed during the war.

“Honestly, it’s not easy to even admit that this is happening, let alone to even talk about it,” said Jones, whose 68-year-old father has had surgery to remove a brain tumor and now is receiving radiation treatments. “It’s only been six weeks. It’s such a devastating diagnosis.”

McCain’s diagnosis comes as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is under increased pressure to broaden who’s eligible for Agent Orange-related compensation. During the war, the military sprayed millions of gallons of the herbicide in Vietnam to kill enemy-covering jungle brush, and in the process, may have exposed as many as 2.6 million U.S. service members — including McCain.

News of his illness has prompted Amy Jones and others to call on the VA to study a possible connection between their loved ones’ Agent Orange exposure and glioblastoma.

Under current policy, the agency makes disability payments to veterans who develop one of 14 health conditions, but only if they can prove they served on the ground in Vietnam, where the chemicals were sprayed. Veterans who served off the coast in the Navy and those with other diseases not on the list — such as brain cancer — are left to fight the agency for compensation on a case-by-case basis.

Those with glioblastoma — or widows seeking survivor benefits — must prove the disease was “at least as likely as not” caused by Agent Orange, a cumbersome process that often takes years and more times than not results in denial.

Although McCain primarily served at sea from the deck of an aircraft carrier — and survived more than five years in a prison camp after his plane was shot down over North Vietnam — the VA would presume he was exposed to Agent Orange because he also spent time on the ground in Saigon.

Still, McCain never has sought to connect any of his health troubles, including prior bouts with skin cancer, with Agent Orange exposure and has a mixed record when it comes to compensating fellow veterans for wartime exposures. His office did not respond to emailed questions about a possible link between glioblastoma and the chemical.

As a senator, McCain voted to approve the original 1991 law that directed the VA to presume every veteran who served in Vietnam was exposed and to begin compensating those with illnesses scientifically linked to it.

In 2011, however, as many Vietnam veterans aged into their 60s and 70s and annual disability payments to them swelled to more than $17 billion, McCain spoke in favor of an amendment that would have required a higher standard of scientific proof before any new illnesses would be covered.

The goal, McCain said in a floor speech, was to ensure that veterans who actually deserved compensation received it, “but at the same time not have a situation where it is an open-ended expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars.” The amendment was defeated — and since then, Vietnam vet disability payments have grown to $24 billion a year — and the episode damaged McCain’s reputation with veterans groups.

In a statement, a VA spokesman said the agency currently does not recognize a connection between Agent Orange exposure and brain cancer but is examining the topic anew in light of the questions that have been raised. In March, the VA asked a National Academy of Medicine panel studying the effects of Agent Orange to focus special attention on glioblastoma. (Previous reports by the group have not found a connection.) The VA also is asking about brain cancer in a sweeping survey of Vietnam veterans now underway.

VA data provided to ProPublica last fall shows that more than 500 Vietnam-era veterans have been diagnosed with glioblastoma at VA health facilities since 2000. That doesn’t include the unknown number diagnosed at private facilities.

ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot reported last year how widows of Vietnam vets were banding together to push the VA to add glioblastoma to its list of diseases linked to Agent Orange. Through a Facebook group, they support one another and offer advice on navigating the VA’s labyrinthian process for seeking disability and survivor benefits.

Since news of McCain’s illness broke last week, dozens like Jones have joined the group, whose members mostly include widows and surviving relatives, but also some veterans living with the disease. “Every one of us, our phones were blowing up the day it came out” that McCain had glioblastoma, said Kathy Carroll-Josenhans, one of the group’s leaders.

The group now has some 450 members, about double its size in December.

One of their challenges is that the VA’s handling of claims related to glioblastoma has been somewhat inconsistent. Between 2009 and last fall, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, the VA’s in-house tribunal for adjudicating benefit denials, issued more than 100 decisions in cases in which widows have appealed benefits denials related to their husbands’ brain cancer, according to a ProPublica analysis of board decisions. About two dozen won. (Here are two additional approvals from this year.)

Brad Riddell, a 35-year-old communications specialist living in Austin, Texas, is not a member of the Facebook group but immediately thought of his father when he heard about McCain’s illness. His dad, Jerry Riddell, served in a Navy construction battalion in Da Nang during the war and routinely came in contact with Agent Orange, which was used to clear brush before paving roads and runways.

Riddell was in high school when his father had a seizure while driving from work one day. A brain scan later that day revealed a tumor the size of a grapefruit and a medical term that still makes Riddell shudder: glioblastoma.

His father endured three surgeries — including two at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston — before doctors told him there was nothing more they could do. He entered hospice and died in February 1999, just 14 months after the diagnosis.

“I absolutely thought about dad when I heard about McCain,” Riddell said. “Anytime I hear that diagnosis, it just feels like, ‘Man, that person is a goner.’ It’s terrible.”

After his father’s death, Riddell’s mother gave him a bag of his military records and told him to hold onto them: “She said, ‘You need to have all these records in case there‘s ever a connection made between your dad’s cancer and Agent Orange.’”

In the wake of the McCain news, Riddell wonders if it’s time to pull the records out.

Heidi Spencer had a similar revelation a year ago. Her father, Jack Niedermeyer, died of glioblastoma at age 58 in June 2004. Her mother didn’t think to apply for benefits until last year when someone at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post where she works suggested it. Spencer helped her mom fill out the application and the VA approved it in March.

“He never knew his cancer came from Agent Orange. He never talked about his service,” she said of her dad, who worked in a steel mill in Pittsburgh and had six kids.

Spencer, 42, found her dad’s commanding officer in the Marine Corps, who wrote a letter saying her dad had been sprayed by Agent Orange.

“The more you research it, the more it comes into light,” she said. “The VA needs to look at this, they need to link it and they need to look at his [McCain’s] diagnosis and whether or not the Vietnam War played a role in him getting his disease.”

In approving her mom’s claim, the VA wrote that glioblastoma was not recognized as a disease that automatically warranted benefits linked to Agent Orange but that “current medical research has shown a causal relationship between herbicide exposure and glioblastoma multiforme.” This is contrary to the VA’s official policy.

Regardless of McCain’s position on the matter, advocates hope his diagnosis will spark a conversation.

In a statement last week, John Rowan, the president of Vietnam Veterans of America, said he was saddened to learn “yet another Vietnam veteran” had been diagnosed with glioblastoma.

“Unfortunately, brain cancer is not on the presumptive list for exposure to Agent Orange,” Rowan said in a statement, “despite the efforts of our fellow veterans and their family members.”

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.

Agent Orange still linked to hormone imbalances in babies in Vietnam: here.

A fraction of the money poured into devastating wars would alleviate the ongoing suffering of people affected by Agent Orange, writes JOHN GREEN.

TRUMP FUNERAL BAN Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), reportedly nearing the end of his life, does not want Trump at his funeral. The Arizona senator has been reflecting on his time in office, and wishes he had not picked former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) as a running mate in 2008. [HuffPost]

HISTORY: British imperialism and the Tet offensive. KEITH FLETT looks back 50 years to one of the turning points of the Vietnam war: here.

‘US Democrats, stop supporting John McCain militarism’

This video from the USA says about itself:

Congressman to Democrats: Stop Sounding Like John McCain on Foreign Policy

10 June 2017

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) says U.S. foreign policy is making things worse in the world, that we must learn from our past strategic blunders, support the Iranian nuclear deal and stop funding Saudi Arabia.

In an attack on free speech and democratic rights, Jonathan Graubart, a Professor in Political Science at San Diego State University (SDSU), has been targeted by a media campaign following a Facebook post he made on July 21. Responding to the torrent of hagiographical news stories surrounding Republican Senator John McCain in recent days Graubart posted a short comment on his personal Facebook page, which was followed by a media campaign that not only misrepresented his views but also used empty moralistic cancer sympathy to glorify the war monger McCain while inspiring violent threats against the professor: here.

US Senator McCain, Saudi, Qatari dictators stoking war in Syria

This video says about itself:

ESPN Documentary on Dying Indian and Nepalese World Cup 2022 Workers

6 June 2014

The assumed figures say that more than 4000 workers from India and Nepal will die before the ball kicks off in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

US senators meet Gulf royals to discuss Syrian rebels

Monday 19th January 2015

US senators led by John McCain held separate weekend meetings with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman and Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to co-ordinate backing for Syrian opposition forces.

Mr McCain said that the US delegation had met Saudi Arabia’s training and equipment programme commander and Ahmed al-Jarba, whom he identified as president of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition even though he resigned last July.

Their visits to the most notorious backers of the extremist forces in Syria followed the Pentagon’s statement that it will send 1,000 military personnel to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to help train politically vetted rebels.

Damascus reported that 2,000 civilians, including over 1,000 children and 350 surrendering fighters, had fled opposition-held areas to the east of the capital.

It also confirmed a claim by the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front that its forces had shot down a cargo plane near the Duhour air base on Friday evening.

Opulent Arabs fuel Syrian hell, stiff Syrian refugees: here.

Flogging for Blogging” official Saudi policy: here.

John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the Capitol police and had antiwar activists arrested and ejected from a hearing Thursday when they protested the appearance of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Members of the Code Pink group held up signs denouncing Kissinger as a war criminal and shouted their intention to make a citizen’s arrest, dangling handcuffs in front of him and distributing an “arrest warrant” citing Kissinger’s role in the Vietnam War and other crimes during his tenure as national security adviser and secretary of state, from 1969 to 1976: here.

Syria war threatens, Senator McCain plays poker

Senator John McCain plays poker on his IPhone during a U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing where Secretary of State JohnKerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testify concerning the use of force in Syria, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, Tuesday, September 3, 2013. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post in the USA writes about this photo, made while the United States Senate discussed whether or not there would be a United States war on Syria, which might well escalate into a catastrophic wider war:

McCain playing poker on his iPhone

As the hearing continues, our ace photographer Melina Mara reports she spotted Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) “passing the time by playing poker on his iPhone during the hearing.”

Republican Senator John McCain is not interested in hearing arguments for, and especially not against, war on Syria. He has already said that even the administration’s war plans are not war-like enough, as he wants an official still bloodier war for regime change. Comedian Will Rogers famously said that he never met anyone he did not like. John McCain never met a war he did not like. Including the bloody war for regime change in Libya; when McCain flip-flopped from Gaddafi buddy to buddy of Gaddafi’s al-Qaedaish enemies.

The resolution passed by the Senate committee explodes the White House’s lying pretense that it is preparing only a “limited” and “narrowly targeted” intervention: here.

War in Syria and the Pentagon

This video from Britain says about itself:

Amazing, inspirational, student speaker Shadia Edwards-Dashti at the Stop the War Coalition ‘Hands off Iran and Syria’ protest on January 28th 2012. In her speech, she talks of how her taxes and fees she pays are used to fund nuclear weapon programs and unjust wars, and that such money could be better spent on healthcare, education and young people. Peace.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Pentagon chiefs reveal divisions over Syria

12 February 2013

Testimony by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey last week revealed that sharp tactical differences had emerged within the Obama administration over what role US arms should play in prosecuting Washington’s strategy for regime-change in Syria.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee February 7, Panetta and Dempsey were asked by Senator John McCain (Republican of Arizona) whether they had backed a proposal developed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus “that we provide weapons to the resistance in Syria.”

Both answered in the affirmative, prompting McCain, who has long advocated a more direct US intervention in Syria’s sectarian civil war, to charge that President Barack Obama had “overruled the senior leaders of his own national security team.”

Both Panetta and Dempsey subsequently added that, in the end, they agreed with Obama’s decision to reject the proposal.

The exchange came as a brief aside in a hearing called to probe the Pentagon’s response to the attack on the US consulate and a secret CIA facility in Benghazi, Libya in September of last year. In the run-up to November’s presidential election and since, Republicans have sought to turn the Benghazi incident, which claimed the lives of the US ambassador and three other Americans, into a major political issue. They have presented it as proof that the Obama administration is “soft on terrorism” and charged that the White House deliberately sought to mislead the public as to the nature of the assault.

It is significant that in all of the media coverage of the McCain-Panetta exchange and the commentary on the apparent split on Syria, there has been no examination of the direct relationship between the Benghazi incident and US policy on arming the Syrian “rebels.” This is, in large part, because the Benghazi attack exposed the fraud of Washington’s so-called “war on terror” against Al Qaeda and related forces.

The fatal attacks on the US facilities in Benghazi were carried out by Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militia elements, who, in their ideology and origins, are analogous to the main fighting forces backed and armed by Washington and its allies in the war to topple the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

The death of the four Americans was a case of “blowback” from the US-NATO war in Libya, in which Washington and its allies used air power and the arming and training of these same Islamist forces to bring down the government of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Moreover, there is substantial reason to suspect that the secret CIA facility had a hand in the transfer of armaments from the Libyan port of Benghazi to Turkey, where another secret CIA operational headquarters was established to coordinate the supply of arms to Syrian opposition forces, principally paid for by Washington’s allies in the region—the Sunni monarchies in Qatar and Saudi Arabia and the Turkish government.

That the events in Benghazi would give pause to any administration plan to participate more directly in the arming of the anti-Assad militias in Syria is self-evident.

On Sunday, General Dempsey repeated that he had been in favor of arming the Syrian anti-regime forces, but asserted that this policy was never part of a specific plan. He said it was merely presented in a “menu of options.”

“Conceptually, I thought if there were a way to resolve the military situation more quickly it would work to the benefit not only of the Syrian people, but also us,” Dempsey told reporters accompanying him on a flight from Afghanistan, where he attended a change-of-command ceremony for NATO-led forces. He indicated his concern that Syria would evolve into a “failed state,” and said the purpose of sending in US arms would be to hasten the fall of Assad, while allowing the preservation of Syria’s state apparatus and security forces.

The problem, he suggested, was finding so-called “rebels” that the US could publicly back. “We still have a challenge identifying who among the opposition, if they achieved a position of dominance, would commit themselves to the longer-term objectives of establishing a representative government, an end to violence, preservation of the institutions so that Syria doesn’t become a failed state,” he said.

While most advocates of a more direct US role in arming the Syrian opposition have called for Washington to aid “secular” and “democratic” rebels, none of them have ever named the forces they have in mind. The principal fighting force of the so-called Syrian “revolution” is organized around Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamist formation tied to Al Qaeda whose ranks have been swelled by thousands of foreign jihadis who have been funneled into Syria. Al Nusra is the best armed and best funded of the militias.

Despite stating that Washington needed “a much clearer understanding of the environment in Syria” before escalating its current intervention, Dempsey added, “No one has taken any option off the table in any conversation in which I have been involved.”

According to the Washington Post, a CIA “red team” concluded that the Syrian insurgents already possessed sufficient light weaponry and that more of it would not have “tipped the scales.” It added that provision of shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles was ruled out from the start.

“We wouldn’t even consider it, because God forbid they would be used against an Israeli aircraft,” one official told the Post. Israel’s unchallenged control of the air is decisive in its ability to wage one-sided wars against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well to attack southern Lebanon.

This view was echoed last Friday by White House press spokesman Jay Carney. “We don’t want any weapons to fall into the wrong hands,” he said, “and potentially further endanger the Syrian people, our ally Israel or the United States.”

Officially, Washington has provided $355 million in “humanitarian aid and supplies.” This so-called “non-lethal” assistance has included military communications equipment and intelligence that have facilitated military attacks by the “rebels.”

In a statement Monday, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, dismissed Washington’s claim that it was involved solely in “non-lethal” aid. “The US is an extremely powerful state that enjoys enormous authority in such countries as Qatar, the chief arms supplier of the Syrian opposition,” said Churkin. “If the US wants to remain consistent with its policy, it should restrain those countries from providing Syrian rebels with deadly weapons.”

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial Monday denouncing Obama for rejecting the proposal to more directly arm the Syrian “rebels.” The newspaper stressed that the main purpose of a more direct US intervention is to strike at Iran.

There have been increasing calls for Washington to directly organize a “third force,” opposed to the dominant Islamist factions, to serve as a proxy army to fight the Assad regime. “Putting US special forces on the ground with mainstream rebels in Syria, and giving them the weaponry and training to take a lead in the fighting, would help shorten the conflict, provide the US with eyes and intelligence, and ensure that Syrians don’t see Al Qaeda radicals as the only people who came to help in their time of need,” Bloomberg News commented.

Similarly, the Washington Post’s foreign affairs columnist, David Ignatius, wrote, “… the most effective step the United States could take would be to train hundreds of elite commando forces, which would be well-armed and have the strong command-and-control that has generally been lacking in the Free Syrian Army. These disciplined paramilitary forces, like groups the CIA has trained in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan, could shift the balance on the ground.”

Evidently, while Washington appears content for the moment to fuel the sectarian civil war that is destroying Syria, plans for far more direct intervention are under active consideration.

John McCain, from war hawk to peacenik?

This 2007 video from the USA on political flip-flops is called John McCain vs. John McCain.

United States ex-Republican party presidential candidate John McCain has done quite some political flip-flops in his life.

Like his flip-flop from crony of Gadaffi to 2011 Libyan war hawk and crony of the anti-Gadaffi Benghazi kind of people who recently murdered the United States ambassador to Libya.

However, the latest news seems to be about a McCain flip-flop which, if true, would be a lot more welcome than the ones about Libya.

From Peace Action West in the USA:

John McCain joins the antiwar camp?

by Rebecca Griffin

September 19th, 2012

It was surprising enough to hear this week that Republican C.W. Bill Young of Florida made a u-turn and called for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. But Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Republican foreign policy leader, former presidential candidate, and hawk extraordinaire takes the cake.

“I think all options ought to be considered, including whether we have to just withdraw early, rather than have a continued bloodletting that won’t succeed,” McCain said.

John McCain, from Gadaffi crony to Libyan warmonger

This video from the USA says about itself:

26 April 2011

Sen. John McCain yesterday became the highest-profile U.S. official to visit Libya since international military intervention began, and gave a hearty endorsement to the rebels fighting the Gadhafi government … “They are my heroes,” he said … he called his visit “one of the most exciting and inspiring days of my life”.

….McCain‘s last visit to Libya was very different, and it’s amazing that U.S. media outlets reporting on his remarks yesterday are pretending this other visit never occurred. It was just 18 months ago that McCain traveled to Libya and cozied up to Gadhafi, visiting with him at the dictator’s home in Tripoli, shaking his hand, and even bowing a little to Gadhafi:

The point of the meeting was for McCain to discuss delivery of American military equipment to the Libyan regime. I guess the rebels didn’t hear about this? And that American media outlets simply forgot it happened?

Politics Daily (August 2009): Sen. John McCain, visiting Libya this past week, praised Muammar Gaddafi for his peacemaking efforts in Africa. In addition, McCain called for the U.S. Congress to expand ties with Gaddafi’s government, according to Libya’s state news agency. McCain had a face-to-face meeting with Gaddafi, which he detailed on his Twitter page with the following message:

“Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his “ranch” in Libya — interesting meeting with an interesting man.”

By Tom Mellen:

Republican hawks touch down for Libya visit

Thursday 29 September 2011

Four hawkish US Republican senators travelled to Libya today to meet leaders of the new National Transitional Council regime which rules most of the oil-rich state.

The visit by Arizona’s John McCain, Illionois’s Mark Kirk, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio of Florida was shrouded in secrecy but they reportedly planned to tour Tripoli’s main square.

Militiamen aligned with the NTC and backed by Nato air strikes seized the capital and much the country late last month but supporters of former leader Muammar Gadaffi remain in control of Sirte, Bani Walid and Sabha despite fierce bombardments.

Mr McCain and Mr Graham had pressed US President Barack Obama for military intervention in Libya weeks before the UN security council’s March resolution authorising military action to protect civilians.

Mr McCain, the top Republican on the Senate armed services committee, also rushed to defend Mr Obama after he came under attack for going to war without congressional approval and in April he visited Benghazi, where he hailed the rebels as “patriots” and “heroes.”

Probably one of the reasons why McCain was and is so eager for violent war, not just against Gadaffi but also against many Libyan civilians who had and have nothing to do with Gadaffi, was to hide his own recent past as a Gadaffi crony.

From The Raw Story in the USA:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) promised to help former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi obtain U.S. military hardware as one of the United States’ partners in the war on terror, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable released Wednesday by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

The Tom Mellen article continues:

Mr Rubio is a neoliberal hardliner who has been called the “crown prince” of the right-wing Tea Party movement.

Mr Graham argues that the US should keep at least 10,000 troops in Iraq into 2012 despite Washington’s deal with Baghdad to withdraw all troops at the end of this year.

And Mr Kirk stirred controversy when he said he was “OK with discrimination against young Arab males from terrorist-producing states.”

McCain-Hillary in 2009: Libya is “An Important Ally in the War on Terrorism”, Gaddafi is “a Peacemaker in Africa”: here.

In a recent teleconference with US businessmen, Washington’s ambassador to Libya let slip a telling phrase while referring to the North African nation’s oil reserves: here.