Monument to the capture of John McCain, Hanoi © Matt Steinglass 2008
It was a shameful thing to ask men to suffer and die, to persevere through god-awful afflictions and heartache, to endure the dehumanizing experiences that are unavoidable in combat, for a cause that the country wouldn’t support over time and that our leaders so wrongly believed could be achieved at a smaller cost than our enemy was prepared to make us pay. No other national endeavor requires as much unshakable resolve as war. If the nation and the government lack that resolve, it is criminal to expect men in the field to carry it alone.
I think this pretty much speaks for itself. As usual with McCain, it’s a pleasure to hear that he’s capable of taking in different and unexpected ideas. And then it’s infuriating to realize that he ultimately rejects those ideas in favor of boundless militarism, or is simply incapable of sticking to any one idea for more than ten minutes. One thing in the above quote at least is consistent with the worldview to which he has held throughout his life: it is, for him, the country’s duty to support whatever it is the men in the field are doing, not the soldier’s duty to do something useful for the rest of his country, and to quit whatever it is he is doing when it ceases to be useful. There’s no consideration of the possibility here that “the nation and the government lack(ed) that resolve” in Vietnam because the war was a stupid idea from the get-go.
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