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Commentary Last Updated: Apr 9th, 2008 - 00:27:06

John McCain's "heroism" in the proper context
By Dennis Rahkonen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Apr 9, 2008, 00:11

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The United States is currently waterboarding or otherwise torturing an untold number of human beings, many of them entirely innocent, under the unspoken motivating pretext that 3,000 of our citizens were cruelly killed on 9/11.

John McCain suffered brutal indignities in the Hanoi Hilton, after he was shot from the sky as part of an air war that involved dropping on a small Southeast Asian nation a greater tonnage of bombs than fell in all theaters of battle in World War II, and which played the dominant part in killing over 3 million people who had fiery aggression visited upon them because of the Gulf of Tonkin lie.

Among those enduring excruciatingly painful, unequivocally illegal treatment at American hands today are hapless goat herders and others who've had nothing whatsoever to do with violent Muslim extremism. In many instances, they're from entirely unrelated backgrounds, having simply been caught up in wildly discriminatory sweeps based on deeply flawed information.

That's a far cry from seeing within one's defensive antiaircraft sights screaming jets from a foreign invader raining explosive death on women and children fearfully scurrying for protective cover.

The foregoing paragraphs are not intended to justify torture -- which can never be countenanced by civilized souls -- but to put the question of torture, and brutality, in an appropriate context.

It must also be noted that the so-called Iraq surge, the latest tactic of obscene choice in another savagely aggressive war that tears both international law and basic morality to shreds, has "enjoyed" some semblance of success partly because ground action has largely been supplanted by U.S. air attacks every bit as lethal to an innocent populace as the infamous napalm and white phosphorous raids that incinerated multitudes and seared active consciences during Vietnam.

If God exists, he surely weeps bitter tears over the ethical travesty that outrageously allows us to judge "progress" by a reduction in our troop deaths even as noncombatant civilian fatalities climb, in a viciously calculated trade-off designed to make an unpopular occupation more palatable at home.

By the latest authoritative count, well over a million Iraqis have died since the Americans arrived.

That reality should haunt our fitful sleep each night, particularly since it was recently documented that almost one thousand falsehoods were used by the Bush administration as fraudulent justification for attacking Iraq.

Let it also be heavily emphasized that not even an electron microscope could detect any substantive difference between Bush's action and Hitler's rape of Poland in 1939.

We stand inexorably condemned by the rigid standards of history. Nothing can absolve our gargantuan crime. No "victory" can come from such a thorough ethical abandonment.

But John McCain, who envisions an American presence in Iraq lasting perhaps one hundred years, would exponentially compound that crime, especially since he views what's being done in Iraq as a model for U.S. imperialism around the globe, sold via rhetoric about "serving American interests."

We would be less than humane if we didn't sympathize with McCain for the lifelong injuries and disability his personal war experience entailed. We would be even more inhumane, however, if we turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the massive harm his own war making caused, plus that which his chronic bellicosity could unleash upon the world.

As our presidential race moves beyond the primaries and into the general campaign, John McCain's hagiography will be hyped and morphed with the original neocon lust for Pax Americana, creating a Hydra-headed monster capable of fully devouring all that remains of our country's goodness and decency, replacing it with full-blown, fascistic empire building, implemented under the guise of "national security."

Should that transpire, Jefferson and Paine would spin in their graves.

Humanity would rebel against the universally hated United States.

And profound insecurity is all that we, the American people, would consequently, tragically come to know.

Dennis Rahkonen of Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing for various progressive outlets since the �60s.

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