The Fallacy of Calling McCain or Anyone Else a War Hero

Hits: 340

Obit scribblers are calling John McCain a war “hero.” Well, I have to concede that unlike so many warmongering chickenhawks such as Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan and most other neocons, McCain did actually serve in the military.  But the same could be said for nearly all top Nazis including Hitler and Goering; they fought in a war and they loved war. They were destructive persons who learned nothing positive from their military experience.

Of course, few of the pundits and politicians who are eulogizing McCain would wish to include Nazis in their hall of fame, nor would most of them care to designate most neocons as anything less than patriots.  So what is it that might qualify someone as a hero, or as a war criminal?  Having been in the military, I sometimes think about that.  These are some thoughts that come to mind.

Heroism is sort of like morality, it’s usually defined by the powers that be.  And a lot of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time.  An example of that would be the five Marines in the famous photo of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima.  What made them more heroic than the many thousands of other GIs who fought on that and other islands in the Pacific, you might ask.  And the answer is: time and place, plus a photographer to take their picture.  So they were in a dramatic photo, and that was at a time when the government needed heroes to sell war bonds.

Military discipline is such that soldiers tend to do as told, even under fire.  It’s a military axiom that soldiers fear their sergeants more then they fear the enemy’s bullets, and I think there’s a huge amount of truth in that.  Even though a sergeant may not be particularly fearsome, there’s a huge power structure behind him.  Individual soldiers become part of the military machine.

My friend Van Dale Todd was in Vietnam and came back with medals.  He didn’t seem to consider himself a “hero.”  What he emphasized was that he’d been through an experience.  “You don’t know what it’s like to see your buddies die!” he often said, and then one night he killed himself in front of me.  That was in San Francisco, in 1972.  In his diary he’d written, “How could killing humans have been fun?  Can God forgive me?”

Many Vietnam veterans suffered from PTSD.  Many died before their time, some shortly after coming home, others years or even decades later, in their 30s or even in their 50s, not necessarily from physical injuries, but often from invisible damage they’d incurred during the war.  I never met any who considered themselves “heroes.”

War criminals?  Van never spoke of himself as being a “war criminal,” but he’d been trained to enjoy killing “the enemy,” and I think it bothered him immensely that he had enjoyed it.  That, I think, was a major factor in his suicide.  Certainly not the only factor.  He took part in antiwar actions, and it shocked him to find nobody representing the power structure (news reporters or judges) would hear what he had to say.  Of  course, the corporate media makes a big show of honoring military personnel and veterans — but only as long as we go along with the bullshit, buy into their narrative and regurgitate propaganda.  During the Vietnam War, media pundits used to tell us that the U.S. was there to defend democracy, and to back it up they’d say, “Ask a GI!” implying that people who’d been in the military believed in the war and would speak in support of it.  Well, you probably know the rest of that story.

I often think of the characters in the Iliad and the Odyssey, wondering how those guys could be considered heroes.  Socrates apparently thought they were; he held Achilles up as an inspiring example of a man who stood by his principles. That strikes me as really strange. In my view, Achilles was the archetypal spoiled brat who just wanted to have his own way.  Then there was Odysseus, a notorious liar, who got tangled up in his own lies, and that’s basically what brought about the loss of his ships and the deaths of his crews on the way back to Ithaca.  The leader of it all was King Agamemnon, a rather poor general, also a poor father who sacrificed his own daughter, and on returning to his home at the end of the war he was killed by his wife, which is about what he deserved.  Those “heroes” were made of rather poor stuff, and a couple of their gods, Zeus and Athena, both of them deceitful schemers, weren’t too great either.  The only person in the Iliad who comes off as genuinely heroic is Hector.  It’s interesting that Homer, presumably a Greek himself, would present their enemy’s champion and other Trojans as being about the only decent persons in the whole story.

Achilles, Odysseus, Agamemnon and all the rest of them.  Those were the men who fought the Trojan War, the elite officer class, that is.  Homer called them heroes and sang their praises, but tongue in cheek, while carefully letting us know who those guys really were.


Originally published on 2018-08-29

About the author: Daniel Borgstrom is a child of the 1950s who joined the US Marine Corps (1959-1963), naively believing he was helping to defend our freedoms. Today he’s an antiwar activist and also a fan of film noir.

Source: Dissident Voice

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]

READ MORE!
Criticism of Israeli Policy is not Anti-Semitic
I was provoked to write this discussion of what is and what isn’t anti-Semitism by an article in Ha’aretz on the “controversy” created by the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to George P. Smith. According to the reporting, Smith is not only a brilliant scientist whose work has helped lead to the creation of new drugs that can treat cancer and a range of autoimmune diseases, he is also an outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and a critic of Israeli policies. The Ha’aretz piece notes that Smith has long been “a target of pro-Israel groups” and is listed ...
READ MORE
Tsarist Russia and the Balkans: A Brief Overview
The Balkan Peninsula, together with the region of South-East Europe, historically has been one of the most important focal points of Russian foreign policy, cultural influences and attempts to spread an ideology of the Orthodox solidarity and the Slavic reciprocity.[1] These ideas are common to almost all trends of Russian public life in the past and very much today too. After Russia lost the Great Crimean War of 1853–1856 she intensified its cultural influence in the region of South-East Europe for the purposes of beating Habsburg (Roman-Catholic) rivalry and to spread an idea of the Pan-Slavism in this part of Europe.[2] ...
READ MORE
Israel: America’s “Mad Dog” in Syria
Israel has played an increasingly provocative role in the destructive conflict unfolding within and along Syria’s borders since 2011. To many observers, it appears Israeli policy borders between opportunistic and unilateral aggression. In reality, Israel’s role in the Syrian conflict fits a much larger and long-term pattern with Anglo-American plans not only for Syria but for the entire region.A more recent row between Israel and Syria was the reported incursion of Israeli warplanes into Syrian airspace, including attacks near the eastern Syrian city of Palmyra. Palmyra hosts an ongoing battle between Syrian forces and the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) terrorist ...
READ MORE
De-Recognition of Kosovo: US Tries to Stem the Tide
The international community is accustomed to the so-called “checkbook diplomacy” that has been used by China and Taiwan to pilfer each other’s diplomatic allies by exchanging diplomatic recognition for generous financial assistance packages. However, this same battle for diplomatic recognition and de-recognition is being played out between Serbia and its breakaway province of Kosovo. The United States and much of NATO has not only granted Kosovo diplomatic recognition over the objection of Serbia but has also pressured other countries to recognize Kosovo’s independence. This process has hit a major stumbling block amid charges from various parties that fake diplomatic letters ...
READ MORE
American Rape of Vietnamese Women was Considered “Standard Operating Procedure”
Comparing testimony from Vietnamese women and American soldiers, Gina Marie Weaver, in her book Ideologies of Forgetting: Rape in The Vietnam War, finds that rape of Vietnamese women by American troops during the US invasion of Vietnam was a “widespread”, “everyday occurrence” that was essentially “condoned”, even encouraged, by the military, and had its foundation in military training and US culture.  She explores why US rape in Vietnam was so common, and why this aspect of US behavior has been virtually “erased” from “narratives of the war”.  She stresses the issue is also important as rape in the US military continues ...
READ MORE
The End of Empire
The American empire is coming to an end. The U.S. economy is being drained by wars in the Middle East and vast military expansion around the globe. It is burdened by growing deficits, along with the devastating effects of deindustrialization and global trade agreements. Our democracy has been captured and destroyed by corporations that steadily demand more tax cuts, more deregulation and impunity from prosecution for massive acts of financial fraud, all the while looting trillions from the U.S. treasury in the form of bailouts. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe, Latin ...
READ MORE
Ten Facts Everyone Needs to Know About Israel
1. Out of the 14.2 million Jewish people in the world, (in 2016), only a minority of 43% reside in Israel. 2. Whilst 75% of Israelis are Jewish, 21% are indigenous Arabs with restricted civil rights. 3. Israel has the highest birth rate in the developed world, with an average of 3 children per woman. 4. The Netanyahu government now receives more than US$6 billion every year from the US congress/ AIPAC lobby i.e. equating to $1000 annually for every Jewish Israeli, courtesy of the American taxpayer. 5. Israel has induced over 500,000 of its citizens to illegally settle in the Occupied Palestinian West ...
READ MORE
USAID or US CIA?
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) was created by Pax Americana to provide a cover for CIA agents under the pretext of helping the 3rd World. US Imperialism has to do some good or its potential targets would not open their doors to intelligence agents posing as do gooders, so USAID was created.Today the USAID is headed by Gayle Smith, formerly the “Special Advisor” to President Barack Obama and Senior Director of the National Security Council. To put it simply, Gayle Smith is one of the top “spooks” in the USA, someone who told the CIA what to do.Today ...
READ MORE
Independent” Kosovo: Gangland Spills Savagery Worldwide
The Western power centers use the “Republic of Kosovo” as a testing ground for working out the ways to create a quasi-state that could be defined as an abnormal criminal case of global scope. The final goal is reshaping the whole of South East Europe. (www.strategic-culture.org) The states below the «first echelon» are subject to the formula «back to slavery and barbarity». This is a model of authoritative outside governance entailing devastation of natural environment, extraction of resources and creation of disastrous economy and ‘stillborn» state structures along with extreme pauperization of population. And this is not all. Control over vast ...
READ MORE
How Britain Helped Create ISIS
Britain is gripped by fear, panic and anger, after being struck by three terror attacks in the space of three months. Innocent men, women and children have been killed in the terror rampage, filling many homes with tragedy and despair. Martial law has practically been declared in many regions of the country, with troops now being a common site on the streets of Royal Britannia. Many are looking for someone or something to blame, as rage is increasingly triumphing over reason.  Lost in all this hysteria however, there sits a glaring connection that needs to be illuminated: the connection between these ...
READ MORE
Thanksgiving Reflections on the Cruel Hegemon
Russian literature fans will recall a moving spectacle from Dostoevsky’s novel “The House of the Dead”. As political prisoners are marched off under guard to Siberia, village folk are handing them food and other provisions that they will need on their long journey. The poor villagers are probably scraping the bottom of their own barrel in order to show Christian Orthodox compassion to those unfortunates. The allegedly nasty czarist guards do nothing to thwart these poignant expressions of humanity. Chances are (and Dostoevsky strongly suggests it) that they themselves feel considerable sympathy for their pitiful charges. Now, fast forward.Albeit depicted ...
READ MORE
“Putinism” in American History
Many articles in the US press have speculated at length in an attempt to define a new ideology called “Putinism.” The pieces serve as an attempt to fit Putin into an outdated Cold War narrative, as if some new ideology in the Russian Federation is playing the role that Marxism-Leninism once played in the Soviet Union, though the current Russian constitution forbids this.The notable leaders of history are rarely ideologues. History judges people mainly by what they achieve, not what they write or say. As Chinese President Xi Jinping recently put it: “The worth of any plan is in its ...
READ MORE
Kosovo is Serbia
March 24 [2020] will mark the 21st anniversary of NATO’s occupation of Serbia’s Kosovo province, and so we reaffirm: Kosovo is Serbia. Serbia does not and will not ever recognize Kosovo’s claims of sovereignty. We call on NATO to end its occupation of Kosovo.NATO’s occupation of Kosovo and its increasing militarization of the province is a threat to the world’s common security. Albanian occupation authorities continue their assault on human rights and fundamental freedoms, brutally silencing critics in civil society and the media, and curtailing religious freedom. Hundreds of individuals from Kosovo, including members of the Serb community, have been ...
READ MORE
A Geopolitical Importance of the Mediterranean Sea Area in Global Security During and After the Cold War (1949-1989)
Preface The current war conflict in Syria and constant warfare between the Israeli state and the Palestinians which recently erupted once again in Gaza strip brought the region of the Middle East to the world attention once again. However, the Middle East is a natural-geographic continuation of the Mediterranean Sea basin and, therefore, it is a part of the broader Mediterranean geopolitical game. Nevertheless, the geopolitical and geostrategic importance of the Mediterranean Sea basin is probably of the highest level from the global perspective. An importance of the Mediterranean Sea area in geopolitical and geostrategic standpoint one can understand from the very ...
READ MORE
“Going After” the Islamic State: Guess Who is Behind the Caliphate Project?
Author’s note and UpdateThe following article was first published in September 2014 at the outset of the air campaign “against the ISIS”. In recent developments Russia has officially joined the campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS). What are the implications?Amply documented but rarely mentioned in news reports, the ISIS is a creation of US intelligence, recruited, trained and financed by the US and its allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and Jordan.  What this means is that the ISIS terrorists are the foot soldiers of the Western alliance. While America claims to be targeting the ISIS, in reality it is protecting the ISIS. The air campaign is intent upon ...
READ MORE
One Dead McCain, 2.5 Million Dead Iraqis
The grossest thing in American society is the reactionary sentimentality that fill our gossip infected hearts with a chemical reaction every time one of our supposed war heroes moves on to a more peaceful place. The carefully rehearsed statements from useless political figures numb our minds as all those who are sane must collectively wonder what on earth has a fusty bag of bones like John McCain ever done for us? Donald Trump was once new to the political scene and was still capable of burning bridges that were worth burning. It was Mr. Trump’s finest moment when he said ...
READ MORE
Economic War Crimes: Dismantling Former Yugoslavia, Recolonizing Bosnia-Herzegovina
As heavily-armed US and NATO troops enforced the peace in Bosnia, the press and politicians alike portrayed Western intervention in the former Yugoslavia as a noble, if agonizingly belated, response to an outbreak of ethnic massacres and human rights violations. In the wake of the November 1995 Dayton peace accords, the West was eager to touch up its self-portrait as savior of the Southern Slavs and get on with “the work of rebuilding” the newly “sovereign states.” But following a pattern set early on, Western public opinion had been skillfully misled. The conventional wisdom exemplified by the writings of former US ...
READ MORE
Nationalism Rising: A Torchlight March for Lithuania
I am surrounded by sea of people, all marching with torches. A chant begins: Lye Tu Vah! Lye Tu Vah! Lye Tu Vah! The chant becomes a roar and then dies away. It is patriotic Lithuanians shouting out the name of their country as they march through the streets of their capital city, Vilnius. We are celebrating the 101st anniversary of the restoration of Lithuania as an independent state. I feel a great surge of emotion as I join the chanting, swept away by the love these people feel for each other and for their land.We march to Cathedral Square, ...
READ MORE
Obama and the Bombing of Hiroshima
Later this month, Barack Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima by the American military on August 6, 1945, and the destruction three days later of the Japanese city of Nagasaki, rank among the greatest war crimes of the 20th century.One would think that after 71 years, the United States would finally be prepared to acknowledge that the incineration of two defenseless Japanese cities, causing some 200,000 deaths, was a militarily unnecessary act.Nothing of the sort will happen. Obama “will not revisit the decision ...
READ MORE
“What About Crimea?” – Latest Narrative From Canada’s Foreign Minister
A news compilation on New Cold War.org on March 8, 2017 reported the controversy that has broken out in Canada surrounding the family history of Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Her maternal grandfather edited two pro-German newspapers in Poland and Austria during World War Two. He and his family settled in Canada after the war. The minister told a March 6 press conference in Ottawa that inquiries into her family history constitute a ‘Russia disinformation’ campaign directed at her and the Canadian government. The minister as well as sympathetic journalists state that the ‘disinformation’ has been aided and abetted by ...
READ MORE
Criticism of Israeli Policy is not Anti-Semitic
Tsarist Russia and the Balkans: A Brief Overview
Israel: America’s “Mad Dog” in Syria
De-Recognition of Kosovo: US Tries to Stem the Tide
American Rape of Vietnamese Women was Considered “Standard Operating Procedure”
The End of Empire
Ten Facts Everyone Needs to Know About Israel
USAID or US CIA?
Independent” Kosovo: Gangland Spills Savagery Worldwide
How Britain Helped Create ISIS
Thanksgiving Reflections on the Cruel Hegemon
“Putinism” in American History
Kosovo is Serbia
A Geopolitical Importance of the Mediterranean Sea Area in Global Security During and After the Cold War (1949-1989)
“Going After” the Islamic State: Guess Who is Behind the Caliphate Project?
One Dead McCain, 2.5 Million Dead Iraqis
Economic War Crimes: Dismantling Former Yugoslavia, Recolonizing Bosnia-Herzegovina
Nationalism Rising: A Torchlight March for Lithuania
Obama and the Bombing of Hiroshima
“What About Crimea?” – Latest Narrative From Canada’s Foreign Minister

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu