So many people are praising this speech by John McCain.
To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.
I’m not so impressed.
Let me remind you that McCain has been a loyal Republican apparatchik for decades. He was elected during Reagan’s term, and was an ardent supporter of Reaganomics and military adventurism — his only ‘virtue’ is that he was willing to negotiate with countries after we’d bombed them. This is the man who joked,
Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? – Because Janet Reno is her father. This is the man who ran for president with Sarah Fucking Palin as his running mate. He likes to pretend that he is a “maverick”, when really he is consistently conservative and dedicated to propping up the status quo.
That speech reeks of hypocrisy. He’s arguing against nationalism because it’s not patriotic? Nuts. He’s promoting the tired old claim that America has been idealistic for the last three quarters of a century, that we are the ‘the last best hope of earth’? Tell that to the people of Vietnam and Cambodia that we napalmed, to the countries of Latin America where we have supported dictators, to Cuba that we embargoed when they didn’t support American imperialism, to the people of Iran where we maintained a tyrant to protect our oil interests until a theocratic revolution cast him down, to the nations of Africa that suffered under our exploitive neglect, to South Africa where we aligned ourselves with the perpetrators of apartheid, and on and on and on. This is the America that still treats Henry Kissinger as a distinguished elder statesman. This is a nation that lashed out with violence and war in response to a terrorist attack, and demolished a country that had not been involved. America is a country that enables war criminals and then reveres them as heroes.
His speech is just more American exceptionalism, and it will be well-received by the yahoos and the journalists who will praise it as statesmanlike. Notice, though, how he assumes that we possess “international leadership” — that of course we run the world, so we must continue to bear the paternalistic burden of solving everyone else’s problems. The problem is just that one bozo currently in office…but never forget, that bozo is the epitome of Republican policy. And that McCain is a loyal Republican who has contributed so ably to our descent into madness and corruption.
What our country needs is a different virtue: a little humility. A recognition that we are one among many. That we don’t get to claim our idealism when we haven’t lived up to it. That we have to earn respect rather than demand it at the point of a massive military machine. We have to notice that our country is on the road to being a failed state, and has lost all authority to tell the rest of the world that they must follow our lead.