Back in July, the remains of 55 American soldiers from the Korean War were returned by the government of North Korea to the United States. This served to reopen the issue of whether some American POWs were transferred by North Korea to the Soviet Union during the Korean War and never repatriated. The death of Senator John McCain last month on August 25 has likewise raised the issue of whether some American POWs were never returned to the United States after the Vietnam War ended.
Were some American POWs from the Korean and Vietnam Wars never repatriated? Undoubtedly. Are the remains of some American POWs from Korea and Vietnam still in boxes or bags? Probably. Are there still alive somewhere American POWs from Korea and Vietnam? Anything’s possible. Does the U.S. government lie and cover-up evidence of these things? Does the U.S. government do anything but lie and cover-up?
I am glad that this issue of the fate of POWs has been raised, but I don’t have an opinion on it. I am glad that the issue has been raised because it prompts me to write about something related to the U.S. military that I have never written about: POWs.
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If there is one thing that every American knows about the late Senator John McCain, it is that he was held by North Vietnam as a POW for over five years. This knowledge is because, as Doug Casey recently said about McCain: “His entire life, reputation, and position are built around this fact.” Since his death at age 81, McCain has been canonized by both liberals and conservatives. To some he is what you call a triple hero: 1. He was in the military; 2. He fought in a foreign war; and 3. He was a POW.
Senator McCain reportedly did not want President Trump to attend his funeral. He and Senator McCain had been at odds since the 2016 presidential campaign. Back in 2015, at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, then-candidate Trump famously said of McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” But then, when later speaking to the press, Trump said: “If somebody’s a prisoner, I consider them a war hero.”
The other Republican presidential candidates at the time took to Twitter. They were not too happy with Trump. They were also filled with praise for POWs:
Enough with the slanderous attacks. @SenJohnMcCain and all our veterans—particularly POWs have earned our respect and admiration. (Jeb Bush)
John McCain is an American hero. I have nothing but respect for his service to our country. After Donald Trump spends six years in a POW camp, he can weigh in on John McCain’s service. (Bobby Jindal)
@SenJohnMcCain is an American hero & all POW’s deserve our nation’s highest debt of gratitude. @realDonaldTrump’s comments are disgraceful. (Rick Perry)
America’s POWs deserve much better than to have their service questioned by the offensive rantings of Donald Trump. (Marco Rubio)
John McCain is not a hero. He is not a hero because joining the U.S. military doesn’t make you a hero. Fighting in a U.S. foreign war doesn’t make you a hero. And being a POW doesn’t make you a hero. Free Trade or Protecti... Buy New $3.05 (as of 12:10 EST - Details)
POWs from the Vietnam War are not heroes. They are not heroes because they had no business going to Vietnam and bombing, destroying, maiming, burning, disfiguring, injuring, and killing for the U.S. government. They are not heroes because they traveled half way around the world to fight an unjust, immoral, and unnecessary war against people they didn’t know who were no threat to them, their families, or the United States. I can be no blunter than Fred Reed: “There is no honor in going to someone else’s country and butchering people you don’t know because some political general, which is to say some general, told you to; A hit man for the Mafia is exactly as honorable.”
The real heroes during the Vietnam War were not POWs. The real heroes were those who refused to take part in the crime of Vietnam.
The best way to never be a POW is not to avoid being captured by the enemy. The best way to never be a POW is to not fight foreign wars for the U.S. government. And since the vast majority of what the U.S. military does is offense not defense, the best way to never be a POW is to stay out of the military in the first place.
Some conservatives lament that the government doesn’t care about POWs. But of course the government doesn’t care about POWs. If the government really cared about any of the soldiers in its military it wouldn’t send them to fight undeclared, immoral, unnecessary, and unjust foreign wars. It would only use them to defend America, secure American borders, guard American shores, patrol American coasts, and enforce a no-fly zone over American skies.