May 14, 2008


The McCain Doctrines (MATT BAI, 5/18/08, NY Times Magazine)

Among his fellow combat veterans in the Senate, past and present, he is the only one who has continued to champion the war in Iraq; by contrast, Kerry, Webb and Hagel have emerged in the years since the invasion as unsparing critics of American involvement there. (In a new book, Hagel, who voiced deep concerns about Iraq even as he voted for the war resolution in 2002, predicts that the war will turn out to be “the most dangerous and costly foreign-policy debacle in our nation’s history.”) This divide among old allies may be the inevitable result of a protracted war that has cleaved plenty of American households and friendships. But it may also be that the war is revealing underlying fractures among the Senate’s Vietnam coalition.

There is a feeling among some of McCain’s fellow veterans that his break with them on Iraq can be traced, at least partly, to his markedly different experience in Vietnam. McCain’s comrades in the Senate will not talk about this publicly. They are wary of seeming to denigrate McCain’s service, marked by his legendary endurance in a Hanoi prison camp, when in fact they remain, to this day, in awe of it. And yet in private discussions with friends and colleagues, some of them have pointed out that McCain, who was shot down and captured in 1967, spent the worst and most costly years of the war sealed away, both from the rice paddies of Indochina and from the outside world. During those years, McCain did not share the disillusioning and morally jarring experiences of soldiers like Kerry, Webb and Hagel, who found themselves unable to recognize their enemy in the confusion of the jungle; he never underwent the conversion that caused Kerry, for one, to toss away some of his war decorations during a protest at the Capitol.

Not for nothing is Chuck Hagel considered one of the dumbest guys n the Senate (maybe the dumbest, since Rick Santorum lost). A rudimentary grasp of history would inform him that the democratization of Iraq should have occurred after WWI--along with innumerable other colonies that Wilson betrayed. Indeed, WWII, the cold War and the WoT are all just functions of what was actually the most dangerous and costly American foreign policy blunder.

As if that bit weren't funny enough though, the idea that John McCain is still a hawk because he had it so much easier than these other guys in Vietnam is just priceless.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 14, 2008 8:13 PM

Aside from the stupidities oj has already pointed out, you'd think that after what, 7 years of war across the globe, the Times writers -- hell, at least a friggin editor -- would know what a "soldier" is.

Kerry served in the Navy, Webb in the Marines, hence neither was a soldier.

(Oh, and Hagel was in Vietnam only in 68 and then was stateside by 69 as a talk show host, which would kinda undercut the argument that his experience was so different from Mac Daddy's.)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 14, 2008 8:49 PM

Kerry did not toss away his own war decorations. He kept them and threw away the ribbons of others.

Posted by: GER at May 14, 2008 9:21 PM

Trying to compare Kerry and Hagel to McCain is like trying to compare an 18-foot crocodile to a salamander. But of course the Times likes its military guys to be small and squishy.

And Kerry's experiences were not morally jarring and 'disillusioning'. He played to character when he returned home, and does so today.

Posted by: ratbert at May 14, 2008 9:39 PM

McCain spent five years R&R in a Hilton, whereas Kerry risked his life ferrying CIA men up Cambodia in Christmas, couldn't even concentrate on his sugar-plum fairies. McCain only had to sit thru VC interrogations once in a while, whereas Kerry had to kill, maim, and rape women and children like Ghangis Khan. Don't you understand how hard it was for a sensitive soul like Kerry?

Posted by: ic at May 15, 2008 3:13 AM

Wow! They are saying that McCain did not undergo a "conversion" to Comsymp, like Hanoi John.

On another note, we are having a real problem because of a serious rectification of names issue. In point of fact, the Iraq War was over in about 2 weeks--mission accomplished. What has followed is a protracted occupation, wherein, various bitter-enders prcice their acts of sporadic violence. Really, the situation is closely analogous to the Spanish-American of four months duration, followed by years of fitful insurgencies in the Philippines.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 15, 2008 4:26 AM

If you were fixing names you wouldn't call it the Iraq War. This is still mop up from WWI.

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2008 7:17 AM

Thanks again, OJ, for the reminder that America's worst President was Woodrow Wilson.

Posted by: Dan at May 15, 2008 8:04 AM

worst President was Woodrow Wilson.

Don't forget Buchanan and Carter, two other Democrats who left behind messes we are still living with.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 15, 2008 9:56 AM

Carter was just an extension of LBJ/Nixon/Ford. As Buchanan was of Fillmore/Pierce. The inability to think your way out of the mess is less blameworthy than creating the mess.

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2008 10:13 AM