How many people would vote for John McCain if they knew his real agenda? It comes down to this: the military elite, working with the president, should draft America’s teens and send them to kill and be killed in foreign lands so that US government can maintain a global military hegemony utterly alien to traditional American ideals.
McCain is the candidate of perpetual war for the sake of perpetual war. Against whom? Anyone: Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Serbia, and China are on his radar screen for now, but anyone could be next. A president like this-temperamentally maniacal and lusting for power — is fully capable of plunging the US into a nuclear exchange just because he got up on the wrong side of the bed.
McCain says that foreign policy is the reason he is running for president. Hence, as awful as he is on domestic issues — he wants to tax the tobacco industry to death and nationalize the electoral system through campaign finance reform — his foreign policy views alone implicate him as an enemy of freedom.
From his own words and speeches, it is clear that he is America’s Vladimir Putin, a man who was shaped by old unjust wars he still defends, who identifies most closely not with civilians but with the old-line members of the military and secret police, who believes in mandatory national service leading to conscription, and is pleased to work as a rabble rouser for the military-industrial complex, also known as the merchants of death. That he has convictions, no one can doubt. Whether those convictions are compatible with preserving American lives and liberties is another question.
Consider what he thinks of as the "lesson of Vietnam." Not that we shouldn’t conscript America’s youth and force them to become war criminals against their will, raining down terror on foreign peoples who never harmed them. Not that we should mind our own business, as George Washington wisely suggested in his Farewell Address. Not that we shouldn’t undertake battles we can’t win, while massacring innocents in the process of trying.
No, McCain considers Vietnam’s lesson to be that we need more, longer, and bloodier wars to vanquish every enemy of the American political class. Vietnam was a "noble cause," according to him, that was lost because the US pulled out and didn’t send more men to die as ground troops. Oh yes, and more B-52s and anything else the Pentagon happened to have lying around should have been employed.
He says all this — well documented in the January 3, 2000, issue of The Nation — in exactly the same spirit that Putin defends the KGB, the secret police, and Soviet foreign policy in Afghanistan. McCain and Putin-like despots of the ancient world — are defenders of the old order of bloody and cruel state control, and at a time when America and Russia have the clear choice of freedom or empire.
McCain’s recent rise to political fame came with Bill Clinton’s murderous attacks on the sovereign nation of Serbia, attacks that caused the bulk of the refugee crisis, led to hundreds of civilian casualties, blew up billions of dollars of civilian infrastructure, and unleashed anti-American protests all over the world. The executive-worshiping media were glad to find that McCain was the critic of Clinton’s actions who advocated more death sooner. McCain blasted Clinton’s "excessively restricted air campaign" and the administration’s refusal to send in ground troops. By the time he was finished with weeks of round-the-clock interviews, McCain was making Clinton look like a man of peace. That’s just the kind of critic the media like, one who makes Clinton seem prudent by comparison.
But couldn’t Congress restrain a President McCain? No chance. He doesn’t believe in that, and Clinton has already shown how an executive can attack another country without asking any elected official. But couldn’t other countries restrain him? No way. He doesn’t believe in that either. To his mind, the purpose of Nato and the UN is ratify US foreign wars after the fact-an impulse that makes him even more dangerous than Clinton.
Only a few years ago, he called for "forceful, coercive action" against North Korea over a couple of faulty reports of that country’s nuclear capacity. On Iraq, he wants war, war, war, starting with a huge increase in bombing, which, he says, has been "extremely limited." (Tell that to the Iraqi mothers who lose children every day for lack of food, medicine, and clean water.) On China, he warns of the country’s "increasingly aggressive role in the region." For now, McCain would permit China to enter the WTO; tomorrow he may decide bloodshed is needed to end the country’s human rights abuses.
Speaking of human rights, it’s true that he was a POW, probably the only thing voters know about him. But what was he doing before he was imprisoned? He was part of an aerial bombing squad that attacked rural areas surrounding Hanoi, causing more than a million deaths and injuries from 1965 to 1968. He flew 23 of those bombing missions, and he even admits to bombing a power plant in "a heavily populated part of Hanoi." Even today, he says of the killing: "nobody made me fly over Vietnam. That’s what I was trained to do and that’s what I wanted to do."
During the Serbia carnage, McCain gave a speech which is ominous in light of his preference for bloodshed over sober diplomacy. "The terrible losses incurred in war were once an experience so intensely personal that I will remember them all my life," he said. "There is not a decision with greater meaning or that should be made with greater reluctance than the president’s decision to send Americans into conflict. Whether their role is peacekeeper or combatant, they are going into harm’s way and some of them won’t come home."
Folks, it is President McCain who will be in charge of whether America’s sons and daughters are in harm’s way or "won’t come home" at all. He claims "reluctance," but his policies scream: draft them, turn them into killing machines, and get them killed. Why would anyone in these days of relative peace and prosperity desire to make this man the most powerful in the world, letting him fantasize alone in the White House with his finger on the button?
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and editor of a daily news site, LewRockwell.com.