John McCain is dead. The Arizona senator─who devoted his entire adult life to “serving” the U.S. imperialist project of slaughtering oppressed peoples and seizing their lands─died of cancer at 81.
The U.S. media and political establishment are virtually deifying the late warmonger, celebrating him as a “war hero,” a “maverick” who “served his country” from his time as a soldier in Vietnam to his two decades on the senate floor.
The odes persist days later from the mouths of nearly every spokesperson of U.S. imperialism, from the bereaved pundits of Fox News to the neocolonial Barack Obama, the former president who ran against McCain in 2008.
The glorification of McCain is not simply a product of basic U.S. patriotism; Chairman Omali Yeshitela points out that it is also a calculated political move by the bourgeois media in the midst of a deepening crisis and splits within the white capitalist ruling class.
Every McCain tribute is meant to undermine U.S. president Donald Trump, who notably feuded with the senator during the 2016 presidential election.
Trump ridiculed McCain’s reputation as a “war hero,” stating: “Oh, he’s a war hero because was captured. I like the ones who weren’t captured.”
McCain can only be considered a hero to the imperialists. To the rest of us, he was anything but a hero.
To the Vietnamese, Arabs and Africans of the world, that spiteful, glowering face represented not heroism, but the cruel violence of imperial state power.
Let’s take a look at ten times McCain proved his credentials as an arch-imperialist warmonger and mass murderer.
1.The bombing of 30,000 Vietnamese
As a young man, McCain began his career as an active agent of imperialist white power when he signed up to enlist in in the genocidal war and invasion of Vietnam.
McCain flew the A4E Skyhawk airplane in the 1965-68 bombing campaign called Rolling Thunder that exterminated 30,000 Vietnamese human beings.
Three million Vietnamese were murdered by the U.S. before the war finally ended with a crushing defeat for the Americans in 1975.
The burning of children, the obliteration of entire villages, and the dropping of over 400,000 tons of napalm by baby-killers like McCain could not stop the will of the Vietnamese Revolution to fight and win.
2. Destruction of civilian power plant in Hanoi
In 1967, McCain as a pilot rained death and destruction down on a civilian power plant in Hanoi, shortly before the Vietnamese revolutionaries shot his plane out of the sky and took him captive.
Although McCain later alleged (without any evidence) that he had been subject to torture at the hands of the Vietnamese fighters, the fact that McCain even survived his captivity is a testament to the clemency of the Vietnamese.
These starving, colonized people, waging a righteous anti-colonial struggle for national liberation, would have had every right to extinguish the genocidaire on the spot.
Alas, McCain came out of captivity fatter and healthier than he was when his plane crashed and then shamelessly milked his phony persona as a so-called “prisoner of war” to advance his political career for over three decades.
With regards to the millions of Vietnamese dead, mutilated, disfigured by Agent Orange and Napalm, McCain was unambiguous: “I hated the gooks, and I will hate them as long as I live” were his exact words to a Rolling Stone reporter in 1973.
3. Backing the contras in Nicaragua
When McCain decided to enter politics, he was rabidly eager to expand the imperialist reach of the U.S., and he ran for senate in the 1980s and immediately sprang into action to lobby for support of the CIA-backed Contras in Nicaragua, who burned villages and committed atrocities to undermine the progressive Sandinista government.
4. The invasion of Iraq
McCain supported every single war of occupation that came before the senate for a vote. Iraq was no exception.
In the 1990s, he supported the Persian Gulf war and he backed the devastating sanctions that resulted in the deaths by starvation of over half of a million Iraqi children.
These 500,000 dead Iraqi children later inspired the notorious remarks by secretary of state Madeleine Albright that “the price [of 500,000 dead Iraqi children] was worth it.”
McCain voted for the Iraq War Resolution in October 2002 and was one of the first, the day after the September 11 attacks in New York, to argue for the invasion of not only Iraq, but also of Syria, Iran, Libya, “perhaps North Korea, and others.”
The death toll since the invasion of Iraq is in the millions. The U.S. military’s “shock and awe” tactics of dropping millions of tons of bombs including chemical weapons like white phosphorus on the Iraqi people have reduced entire cities to rubble and permanently disfigured thousands of Iraqi children.
Today under U.S. president Trump, the genocidal campaign of mass murder in Iraq continues unabated.
5. The invasion of Afghanistan
McCain backed the invasion of Afghanistan. Since the 2001 invasion, the U.S. army has slaughtered nearly half a million Afghan people and forced thousands into torture camps to be sadistically abused and mutilated by vicious U.S. soldiers.
McCain pretended to oppose torture and feigned outrage at the atrocities in Iraq and Afghan detention camps, but he supported the Bush policies that legalized the use of “extraordinary rendition,” a euphemism for torture.
In 2018, McCain even presented his own proposal to senate for increasing U.S. presence there when he felt Trump─who dropped “the mother of all bombs” on the besieged country last summer─was not being “tough enough” on Afghanistan.
6. The invasion of Syria
McCain was among those who led the charge on the U.S. war on the people and government of Syria with the regime change agenda of overthrowing the democratically elected Bashar al Assad.
McCain traveled to Syria to meet with the CIA-backed “rebel groups” who achieved notoriety for marauding Syrian cities and spilling the blood of children and women.
Over the past three years, U.S. imperialism has reduced a once-stable country to a state of chaos and contrived sectarian violence.
7. The invasion of Libya
McCain was the most vocal supporter of U.S. military aggression against the people and government of Libya.
Libya was the latest to fall victim to a strategy McCain had previously referred to as “rogue-state rollback,” in which the U.S. would “arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow governments…”
Under the guise of supporting a popular mobilization of the Libyan people against tyranny, the U.S. government under Barack Hussein Obama armed and funded anti-Gadaffi forces with the clear-cut goal of overthrowing the Libyan Jamahiriya government that had raised that country to the highest standard of living of any country in Africa.
Gadaffi, although a petty bourgeois nationalist, was still too independent for the United States to tolerate, with his history of supporting Palestinians and others in fighting against U.S. imperialism and Zionism.
In his capacity as the senior Republican on the senate armed services committee, McCain flew to Libya and shook hands with the “opposition leaders” there who were CIA and NATO-backed reactionary mercenaries who raped, murdered and maimed Libyan people including putting Africans into cages and torturing them.
These same “rebels” later captured, raped and murdered the popular Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi and published the grisly video on YouTube.
Upon the release of this hideous footage, the secretary of state Hillary Clinton laughed and shouted, “We came! We saw! He’s dead!”
McCain hailed these brute mercenaries as “heroes.”
Today the Libyan people suffer the hideous consequences of the U.S. war with the country plunged into incessant factionalism, violence and terror.
When McCain ran for president in 2008 during a campaign rally, one of his constituents asked if him if he had any message he would want to send to the people of Iran. McCain smirked and began singing, “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran! Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran!” to the tune of a Beach Boys song.
McCain’s determination to bomb Iran went beyond mere jest, of course. McCain advocated U.S. invasion of the Islamic country that had achieved independence and liberated itself from CIA-backed tyranny of the brutal Shah in the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
McCain met with reactionary opposition groups there such as the MEK and reacted to a report of rising U.S. cigarette exports to the country by saying it may be “a way of killing ‘em.”
Five years battling brain cancer did not stop McCain from championing yet another new front of U.S. imperial war, practically from his deathbed—this time against the people and government of Yemen.
Carried out primarily through the U.S. proxy in the form of the neocolonial regime of Saudi Arabia, the U.S.-Saudi-Israeli war against the “Houthi people” has led to the deaths of over 50,000 Yemeni people.
The Houthis are Yemenis fighting for independence, with support from the government of Iran.
McCain said that Saudi war on Yemen was a godsend and that Yemen would be a “catastrophe” without Saudi Arabia.
10. War against the entire planet Earth
Mali, Nigeria, Libya, Kuwait, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Russia, China, and North Korea are among the countries to which McCain pushed for U.S. military invasion.
African Internationalism arms us to understand that McCain’s advocacy of endless U.S. war was not a representation of imperialist strength, but of its desperate weakness in the face of the growing resistance of anti-imperialist struggle worldwide.
McCain’s bloodlust was reflective of a dying, but not yet dead, system built on slavery, genocide and colonialism which as Chairman Omali Yeshitela has stated, is undergoing its death throes as a consequence of the anti-colonial fight-back of the oppressed peoples of the world.
The ultimate victory of the struggles of the world’s colonized masses will push imperialism into its grave, vindicating the suffering of every Vietnamese, African, Arab, Iranian, and Pakistani person who ever had to face a bombshell, gun blast or napalm explosion as a consequence of buttons pushed or votes passed by the late senator John McCain.