Archive for Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Opinion: McCain’s reminder: War is a shared sacrifice

September 19, 2017


Three aging U.S. veterans of the war in Vietnam, each of whom still bears the scars of battle, took their seats on the stage of Washington’s Kennedy Center on a cool September evening. They were there to discuss Ken Burns’ historic 18-hour PBS project, “The Vietnam War,’’ which will deservedly earn the nation’s attention. The three — John Kerry, a former presidential nominee, U.S. senator and secretary of state; Chuck Hagel, a former secretary of defense and U.S. senator; and John McCain, a former presidential nominee and current U.S. senator — received a sustained standing ovation from an unimpressionable Washington crowd.

Kerry credited the Burns film for teaching that “we should never confuse the warriors with the war’’ and that it can “take a long time for a family to get to a place where they can say, ‘My brother, my son did not die in vain. They served our country. They are patriots.’’’ But it was McCain who made this comfortable room more than a little uncomfortable by reminding his fellow citizens of an abandoned American value: the need for shared sacrifice.

Immediately, I was reminded of the wisdom of Army Col. Steve Siegfried’s words to military journalist George Wilson: “Armies don’t fight wars. Countries fight wars. I hope to hell we learned that in Vietnam. (Tragically, we did not.) ... A country fights a war. If it doesn’t, then we shouldn’t send an army.’’

McCain, the son and the grandson of Navy admirals and himself a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, confronted the class issue of the Vietnam War: “There was a division in America because we had a draft and those who were drafted were lower-income Americans who didn’t have a college education and couldn’t get a deferment. ... That’s not right. If we are going to fight a war, we should be able to ask everybody to fight it.’’

The audience at the Kennedy Center warmly applauded McCain’s call that war demands equality of sacrifice. But 42 years after the fall of Saigon and 14 years since we went to war against a country that did not threaten the United States — that had never attacked the United States and did not have then and had never had weapons of mass destruction — our elected leaders have still asked us to pay no price, to bear no burden. Just slap a “Support Our Troops’’ sticker on the SUV and mumble an empty “thank you for your service’’ to the limping stranger in uniform at the airport.

Where is our patriotism, yours and mine, to demand that our leadership impose upon us taxes to pay for the wars waged in our name so that we do not selfishly shift all the burden for paying the trillions in costs to our children and grandchildren? Does anyone seriously doubt that if this nation today had a military draft — with no college or occupational deferments — that commanded into service the sons and daughters of CEOs, of senators, of talk show patriots and of the president of the United States, university campuses and the influential among the privileged elite would be loudly protesting sending any more Americans into wars with no end?

Thank you, John McCain, for reminding us, by the courageous example of your principled leadership, of the American value that war truly does demand equality of sacrifice.

— Mark Shields is a columnist with Creators Syndicate.


Louis Kannen 6 months ago

I don't recall seeing coverage about this on any Regional Broadcast Evening News. As a society, are we now so introvertedly self-absorbed that we no longer feel the nagging need to remember, nor so complacent that we no longer even care? I've paid homage to Don Henley's /The Eagles entreaty, "Dirty Laundry" on this Forum before. If you're old enough to remember the song, re-visit and take note. If not, you'd be well served to do so. Societal slippery-slopes' are a very dangerous landscape to navigate out of.

Bob Summers 6 months ago

Liberal war hawks like McCain need all the assets for fighting they can get. What better way to get assets to fight his illegal wars for nation building than to claim you are doing it out of sexual fairness.

btw. This is why he is on the side of criminal trespassers. They make good soldiers too!

P Allen Macfarlane 6 months ago

One of us is linguistically challenged - and it's not me!

Richard Heckler 6 months ago

What happens when the CIA creates justification for a war? I was reminded today by a former CIA analyst on radio news.

Meet PNAC:

"Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination” (Very dangerous position which threatens this nations economy, OUR freedoms,the nations security and world peace.)

Total global USA military domination” is a dangerous position which threatens this nations economy, OUR freedoms,the nations security and world peace.

One concern we all might consider is about the private armies which are floating about the world destabilizing other governments.

Some PNAC History:

Private armies do not necessarily fall under military authority which allows them to do somewhat as they please on the tax dollar payroll.

DO question authority! It is patriotic!

• WHY do we need to increase defense spending significantly to carry out our global protection for Wal-Mart,Oil,Coca Cola,Pepsico,diamonds,gold etc etc etc

• WHY do we need to strengthen our ties to dictator regimes friendly to American interests and Bogus values;

• WHY do we need to promote the cause of the political right wing and economic rape for corp USA abroad;

• WHY do we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in forcing others to accept our corrupt multi national principles.

Such a war mongering policy of military strength and immoral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the extortions of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness no matter how many innocent USA soldiers and innocent mothers,children and fathers abroad die.

Do I want to blindly support any of the above? NO

The Plan: Strategic Errors of Monumental Proportions by Lt. Gen. William E. Odom

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months ago

During the 60's everyone was invested. I remember waiting for the newspaper to see the draft lottery numbers, and which of may friends were going to be drafted. Those who got a number guaranteeing the draft would join up, so they could at least get in the branch they wanted.

I didn't know anyone who didn't know someone in the military, Now, we don't have to pay for any of the wars and you only know someone if one of your friends or relatives signed up. There isn't a lot of reporting. Many people don't even know we are still at war.

Joshua Cain 6 months ago

Another part of the problem is that we're so desensitized to war. We are in a perpetual state. Often times without the consent of the nation. That's what makes McCain statement so tragically ironic.

"Immediately, I was reminded of the wisdom of Army Col. Steve Siegfried’s words to military journalist George Wilson: “Armies don’t fight wars. Countries fight wars. I hope to hell we learned that in Vietnam. (Tragically, we did not.) ... A country fights a war. If it doesn’t, then we shouldn’t send an army.’’ McCain

.....and if the country isn't behind the war and the war isn't waged consistent with the requirements of the constitution then you don't get to go.

Also, I don't buy the line that we should never confuse the the warriors with the war. Their oath is to the constitution which requires a declaration and even then we have to be in immediate danger from an imminent attack. I suppose the exception would be the draft which should be done away with. We are not authorized to nation build, enact regime change, and play police officer of the world. The evidence is overwhelming that we fail miserably at it.

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