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John McCain: A Greater Cause

Jeff Campbell

Posted on September 1, 2018 09:08

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“War hero” and “maverick of the Senate” is what I have been hearing most since the death of Senator John McCain, but the most interesting reaction I found was from Vietnam.

The passing of Senator John McCain has prompted an outpouring of reactions, mostly positive memories of his military service or his “maverick” service in the U.S. Senate. President Trump, and the administration, as often is the case, didn’t seem to know how to properly react, so looked foolish as they shifted from a tweet and fluctuating flags to an official response once the pressure mounted.

From a personal standpoint, I always respected John McCain, even when I disagreed with his stances on issues. I also supported his first bid for the presidency but wished he had been maverick enough to go independent, as I was, and still am very much against the mass ineptitude and corruption of the current two-party ruling class establishment. When he didn’t, my interest in his presidential aspirations faded.

There has been a steady flow of condolences from political friends and foes alike, along with pundits who always seemed to like him especially at the end, maybe because of his tussles with President Trump. Amongst these, the story I found most interesting was on the reaction from Vietnam.

According to reporting from the Washington Post, there have been well wishers leaving flowers and incense in a makeshift shrine at a monument that marks the place of his capture in 1967. The government of Vietnam has officially paid its respects, and even retired Vietnamese Col. Tran Trong Duyet, the man who ran the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” was quoted as being very sad at hearing of the passing of Senator McCain.

He said that he personally liked him and admired his stubbornness as they argued. For Senator McCain’s part, he had said he did not forgive his captors, not because of what they did to him, but because of what they had done to his fellow prisoners.

This, however, did not stop Senator McCain from becoming one of the biggest advocates of normalizing relations with Vietnam, and he co-sponsored a bill in 1994 with Senator John Kerry to end economic sanctions against Vietnam, which led to greatly improved relations with the country.

It also led to much improved economic conditions within Vietnam and many citizens recognized Senator McCain’s efforts and contributions in helping Vietnam over the years in their condolences at his passing.

Maybe there is a lesson in this small part of the story of John McCain. In a time in politics when it is seemingly not permitted to even talk with those with whom you disagree, without risking swift attacks from your own side, it is worthwhile to think about a man that was held captive and tortured for years by another country.

He was able to accept that working with them was better for his country (his side) and for Vietnam (their side) and for the world. All sides in our current messed up world of politics should take note of this, internalize it and act on it, not simply pay lip service that evaporates as quickly as the last note of taps.

Jeff Campbell

Posted on September 1, 2018 09:08

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Source: Asia Times
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The post John McCain embodies US-Vietnam reconciliation appeared first on Asia Times .

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