It still seems absolutely outrageous how some 33 years ago -- on October
26, 1967 to be exact -- North Vietnamese agents traveled 12,000 miles from
their own country; snuck into the United States; kidnapped the innocent
American John McCain; smuggled him back to North Vietnam; and imprisoned him
for five years.
Of course, in reality, McCain was the one who traveled 12,000 miles from
his own country, invaded North Vietnamese air space on October 26, 1967, and
was dropping bombs on that nation for the 23rd time when his plane was shot
down. That's how he became a North Vietnamese prisoner.
No North Vietnamese had ever committed any act of violence on U.S. soil,
or, until Americans invaded their country, against any American. Yet the
United States rained death and destruction from bullets, bombs and chemical
agents on that small impoverished nation for 10 years. McCain was an active
participant in destroying that country, indeed, he volunteered to go there.
When he was shot down, McCain's bombing mission was to destroy a power
plant in the center of Hanoi. What a perfect illustration of the essentially
terrorist, war criminal-like nature of McCain's actions.
Torture is absolutely wrong, and to the extent McCain was tortured, his
captors should be absolutely condemned.
And to the extent McCain bravely withstood his torture, he exhibited
qualities of physical bravery.
But that only makes him a brave war criminal, not a war hero.
***August, 2004 Update: I commend John McCain for condemning
the scurrilous attack ad against Kerry by some swift boat veterans.