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US Politics

John McCain was a war hero, if flawed: just like America

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 September, 2018, 5:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 September, 2018, 5:00am

Yonden Lhatoo in his latest column claims John McCain and America are warmongers, war criminals, child murderers and “evil minds bent on destruction” (“John McCain was a chronic warmonger, not a war hero”, September 1).

But consider: The United States did not want to enter either the first or the second world war. Was this “warmongering”? If so, we’re surely grateful.

The Vietnam war was hugely contentious in the US, not a popular adventure. As an Australian of a certain age, I was in the conscription ballot for Vietnam. I didn’t support the war, but would have gone because I saw it as a duty, as surely did McCain.

Mr Lhatoo fails to mention that McCain refused early release by his Vietcong captors. McCain later publicly admitted to and regretted breaking down under torture, and his Vietnamese jailer paid tribute to the “stubborn” prisoner. After the war, McCain spoke repeatedly against torture, and was instrumental in repairing US-Vietnam relations.

Watch: Vietnam remembers John McCain

How Vietnam fell in love with John McCain

In Iraq, the 1991 war was both justified and successful. But most agree that the 2003 war was a mistake, including McCain, who had the courage to admit that he’d been wrong to support it.

In Serbia, it was the US that helped stop the butchering of Muslim civilians in Kosovo. This brought peace and war criminals were indicted.

The US is surely flawed, like most countries. Unlike many, it constantly debates its own shortcomings and tries to create “a more perfect union”. John McCain was a towering – and also flawed – figure in that effort to perfect the union. Of that there can be no doubt.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay