UPDATE: John McCain died on August 25, 2018.
(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed) — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) was recently diagnosed with glioblastoma, a serious form of brain cancer. In preparation for the inevitable end to McCain’s life, career, and legacy — whether he succumbs to cancer or old age — the mainstream media has come out in full force to educate us about the major lessons we should take away from McCain’s illustrious lifelong accomplishments.
The Washington Post writes:
Let’s work our way backward.
In mid-February of this year, Mr. McCain made a secret trip to Syria that only came to light after he had already taken the visit. One can only wonder how many Republicans and Democrats he invited on this trip considering Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s independent visit to Syria was severely lambasted by both sides of the political spectrum. As CNN reported at the time, Mr. McCain “argued for more aggressive military involvement in the Syrian Civil War,” a move that currently has no international legal basis and certainly has nothing to do with human rights or democracy.
In 2012, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave a slideshow presentation that explained the true nature of America’s military involvement in Syria. According to the New York Times, Dempsey said imposing a no-fly zone, as many establishment politicians have advocated, “would require as many as 70,000 American servicemen to dismantle Syria’s sophisticated anti-aircraft system and then impose a 24-hour watch over the country.”
At the time of Dempsey’s estimate, the Russian military had not yet intervened to bolster Assad’s forces in Syria. But this week, Russia signed a law ratifying a deal with the Syrian government allowing Russia to keep its air base in Syria for almost half a century, meaning the military commitment Mr. McCain has been advocating would require a full-scale war with Russia. In this context, the least dangerous scenario possible would require over 70,000 Americans to risk their lives in the Syrian conflict against a military heavily defended by Russia and Iran, all while the U.S. keeps fighting wars on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan).
In 2013, Mr. McCain met with General Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in another “surprise” visit. He also met with other leaders of Free Syrian Army units. As far back as 2012, Reuters reported that the FSA was heavily embedded with extremists. FSA commanders also admitted on record to conducting joint operations with al-Nusra, Syria’s official al-Qaeda branch, whom they referred to as their “brothers”.
Some years later, we learned that the majority of Syrian rebels share ISIS’ core ideology and have the express intention of establishing Sharia law, according to a think tank commissioned by the Tony Blair Foundation. We also learned that Syrian rebels cannot be divided into moderates and extremists because they all work together on the ground, anyway.
The Washington Post’s David Ignatius bragged that these CIA-backed Syrian rebels had killed 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies over the years – as if this is something to celebrate. Whether we like it or not, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is defending its country from a foreign-backed insurgency spearheaded by the United States, and in 2016 it was the most heavily engaged entity fighting ISIS. The fact that 500,000 Syrians have returned to areas liberated by these SAA soldiers is a testament to the fact that the CIA-backed rebels are not liberating Syria but are in fact the very types of people that hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have been fleeing the country to escape in the first place.
Has this changed Mr. McCain’s position on Syria? Not at all. In fact, Donald Trump’s decision to end the covert CIA program that trains and arms these fanatic rebels was met with strict condemnation from Mr. McCain, who argued that Trump has handed a “concession” to Russia. Mr. McCain appears to believe that attempting the same failed strategy over and over will one day lead the world to an inevitable success.
After advocating for and subsequently praising the assassination of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Mr. McCain tweeted a confrontational statement to then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that read “Dear Vlad, the Arab Spring is coming to a neighborhood near you.”
Threats of murder and or/toppling the governments of other world leaders aren’t democratic, nor are their motives rooted in human rights concerns. In the years leading up Gaddafi’s death – brought about by a campaign that Mr. McCain strongly supported despite the absence of congressional approval for the American-led intervention – Libya had the highest standard of living out of any country in Africa and provided its people with state-sponsored health care. It also had an inclusive participatory system that involved decision-making at the local level. This system was observed by the New York Times in 2009, and though the Times was heavily critical of this experiment, the system was almost certainly better than the state of Libya today. Over 2 million children are out of school, and the country has rapidly fallen on the U.N. Human Development Index rating.
In the very same year the New York Times observed Gaddafi’s democratic experiment, in a private meeting with Gaddafi and his son, Mr. McCain offered to sell weapons to Gaddafi to “provide Libya with the equipment it needs for its security.” Ironically enough, it was Mr. McCain and his cohort of hawkish lawmakers that ended up posing the biggest threat to Libyan security when they advocated for bombing Libya back into the Stone Age in 2011 (there’s always an arms deal to be made in there somewhere, though). NATO even bombed a Libyan water factory that supplied 70 percent of the country’s water, and as the U.N. noted, it was the Libyan government that was attempting to fix the problem — not the other way around.
Mr. McCain voted in favor of the Iraq war in 2003, and this was not just a mere policy mistake. He even wanted military action in Iraq shortly after 9/11 even though Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks that took place that fateful day. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the decisions that were made during that invasion directly fueled the rise of ISIS, led to the deaths of over one million Iraqi civilians, and from the point of view of the U.N., were completely illegal.
McCain has also been the biggest advocate of confronting Russia in Ukraine, heavily supporting that country’s descent into turmoil. The man who was backed by the U.S. to take over Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, previously worked as a mole for the U.S. State Department with the aptly coined nickname “our Ukrainian insider.” His approval rating currently sits somewhere around 17 percent. In his bid to promote ‘democracy’ in Ukraine, Mr. McCain met with known neo-Nazis with incredibly fascist policy ideas, particularly in relation to Ukraine’s Jewish population.
Democracy, human rights, freedom. All around the world.
Speaking of championing human rights, why does Mr. McCain have such strong ties to Saudi Arabia, a nation the U.S. State Department admits is responsible for a host of human rights abuses? Why did he work so hard to make sure Trump’s multi billion dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia went through even though Saudi Arabia is launching a war of aggression in neighboring Yemen and committing countless war crimes in the process?
Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world. Its people need food and an uplifted blockade, not billion dollar death machines that target the vital remaining elements of their infrastructure.
Why does Mr. McCain heavily support Israel’s brutal occupation and relentless bombardment of the Palestinian people if he truly champions human rights across the world? One does not need to be anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, or even pro-Palestinian to recognize the horror Israel has unleashed on Gaza’s civilian population.
As a person, Mr. McCain is nothing short of repugnant. As the Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan explains:
“He [McCain] once compared the president of Iran to a monkey and still insists on calling his Vietnamese captors ‘gooks’ (the fact that they brutally tortured him does not excuse his repeated use of a crude racial epithet). Then there is his poor wife. As journalist Cliff Schecter recounts in his 2008 book ‘The Real McCain’:
“In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain’s hair and said, ‘You’re getting a little thin up there.’ McCain’s face reddened, and he responded, ‘At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.’”
Upon hearing the news of Mr. McCain’s recent diagnosis, Barack Obama stated on Twitter that John McCain is an American hero and a brave fighter. “Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John,” the former president concluded.
This is all the while, McCain receives taxpayer-funded treatment (it was taxpayer-funded health insurance that detected his cancer in the first instance) only to leave his treatment as soon as possible to fly thousands of miles to cast a vote ensuring that millions of Americans could never receive such a treatment if they needed it.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that most of America probably doesn’t know what it’s up against, either, nor does the rest of the world considering Mr. McCain’s ability to interfere in egregious and illogical ways across the global chessboard.
If he does depart this earth, at least he will take his warmongering and cowardly legacy with him to the grave.