Friday, March 28, 2008

His Maverickness on nukes and the tragedy of war

I posted only briefly about our bold Maverick's major war policy address earlier this week.

I want to mention a couple of points here. One is from William Hartung, Too Kind to McCain? TPM Cafe 03/27/08, explaining that on the issue of nuclear proliferation, which I consider the most serious single political problem even though our political leaders and system don't prioritize it that way, the Straight-Talking Maverick is full of hot air:

As noted in an excellent piece by John Isaacs of the Council for a Livable World [An Early Look Ahead: What to Expect from Clinton, McCain, and Obama on National Security], McCain has indicated before that he is for reducing nuclear weapons (by an unspecified amount), but he has also voted four times to fund new nuclear weapons when the issue has come up in the Senate in recent years; in addition, he is on record as opposing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), an invaluable initiative that will be central to any effort to eliminate nuclear weapons. So, if he's serious about the need to show U.S. "leadership" on disarmament, Senator McCain could start by coming out against the latest scheme for designing and building a new nuclear weapon - the antiseptically named "Reliable Replacement Warhead" (RRW) program - and shifting ground by endorsing the CTBT. Without taking these and other concrete steps that would actually move us towards nuclear disarmament, McCain's rhetoric, appealing though it may be, is just that - rhetoric.
Also, his press admirers were quite impressed with his opening statements, imagining that they represented McCain's alleged maverick streak:

My grandfather, who commanded the fast carrier task force under Admiral Halsey, came home from the [Second World] war exhausted from the burdens he had borne, and died the next day. In Vietnam, where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those friends never came home to the country they loved so well. I detest war. It might not be the worst thing to befall human beings, but it is wretched beyond all description. When nations seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million tragedies ensue. The lives of a nation's finest patriots are sacrificed. Innocent people suffer and die. Commerce is disrupted; economies are damaged; strategic interests shielded by years of patient statecraft are endangered as the exigencies of war and diplomacy conflict. Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers most keenly. Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war. However heady the appeal of a call to arms, however just the cause, we should still shed a tear for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us.
Actually, there's nothing in that which even the strictest military censor would object to being printed as a statement about even an ongoing war. Any country has to recognize in some way that lives are being lost and injuries being sustained in the course of a war. Stories about PTSD or civilians being killed or "friendly-fire" incidents and the like aren't welcomed by the censor. But ritual recognitions of the losses of war in the service of the country that can be concluded with a flowery phrase like "however just the cause, we should still shed a tear for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us", that's not going to bother the military censor.

I'll give the Maverick's speechwriter a small amount of credit, though. Our Dear Leader Bush hardly if ever manages to sound this sympathetic to those killed in his glorious wars.


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"It is the logic of our times
No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."

-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


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