During the 2004 presidential election, Vietnam was a major issue in the campaign. Predictably the issue was which of the two candidates was the most virile, violent and eager to go to war or an agency for death and combat in war. Mr Bush was portrayed as an A.W.O.L. dissolute who shirked his assigned duty in the Air National Guard when he moved from Texas to Montgomery, Alabama in 1972 and 1973. Dan Rather even lost his job at C.B.S. for merely reporting a broadcast that claimed to document the president's cavalier attitude toward his military commitment. The Democrats tried to make a big issue out of Mr Bush's non-appearance at meetings and his not being shipped to Nam.
Senator John Kerry, Democrat from Mass., began his acceptance speech after he was nominated for president in 2004 with a salute and these words, "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty." This wavering, irresolute politician apparently was trying to contrast himself with Mr Bush who did not report for duty for two years in Alabama. I was disgusted by this. Here we have a figure who opposed the Veitnam War, brilliantly summarised its acts of genocide and war crimes at the Winter Soldier Investigation in 1971 and now was trying to use his war record to advance his political interests.
Senator Kerry was perhaps justly undone by the Swift Boat controversy over the citations of war ribbons and records he won in country. You live by bragging about killing others on a battlefield and you lose the presidency when people, even if maliciously and dishonestly, portray the Bronze Star, Silver Star and three Purple Hearts as undeserving.
Yet the theme was that both candidates somehow shirked or fabricated war activities. Here we have a genocide in Vietnam, like the Turks in Armenia, the Khmer Rouge in Kampuchea, the Rwanda savagery between Tutsi and Hutus and the U.S., due to its violent almost psychotic love of soldiering and mass murder, focuses some thirty years later on which of the Vietnam Era veterans could prove his superior willingness to serve and kill other humans. It is shameful to see this type of debate in this shameless, vile nation of war and racism.
Now Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and unannounced presidential candidate, has also attempted to ride the path to power and influence due to his extremely violent activities as a navy pilot. Mr Bush, who was in Vietnam last week, visited Truch Bach Lake where the senator was apparently shot down. His plane had been hit by A.A.A. and he parachuted down, was caught and served justifiably five years as P.O.W. What was he doing flying over a nation's capital city? Was he bombing civilian areas as the Nazis did in Rotterdam and the allies did from Dresden, to Hamburg, to Tokyo to Nagasaki? Are we supposed to admire him for flying an airplane and dropping bombs in an imperialistic, unjust war? Yes he was following orders and did not make policy but he was an officer and we have the right to assess a major national figure's record in war in a critical manner. He should apologise to the Vietnamese for his actions and stop playing on his alleged torture as a P.O.W. I oppose torture and hoped the former pilot did not have to endure such actions, if they indeed happened. I support his recent initiatives, however meekly pursued and non-binding on a criminal, defiant president, to prevent U.S. torture of P.O.W. or enemy combatants.
Senator McCain likes to recount his detention at the Hanoi Hilton, a euphemism for a detention facility in Hanoi for American pilots captured after bombing an innocent people in an innocent country that was no threat to the U.S. I am certain it was not worse than the barbaric transgressions at Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo. There they killed P.O.W. as well as tortured, freezed, denied food, waterboarded and undressed them.
Lesson: Stop war; politicians cease running on war records and the glorification of military combat; stop the bestiality of American imperialsim and resist this hegemonic compulsion for global domination.