Sunday, August 26, 2018

John McCain and lionization of the military in the U.S.

Senator John McCain finally died of the same aggressive form of brain cancer that has killed string theorist Joe Polchinski – farewell, Mr McCain – and it's a natural moment to mention the psychological status of the troops in the U.S. Well, they're generally worshiped by the Americans, especially by the patriotic Republicans.

There is a core in this sentiment that I have always obviously considered right. Patriotism is a good thing, good and great countries need to defend themselves, and the army is one of the most important things that are paid from the tax revenue.

On the other hand, I could never identify with the extent and implications that these Americans draw from their "support for the troops".



John McCain has been treated as a war hero throughout most of his life. At some level, the label "war hero" is unquestionably accurate. When someone fights in the Vietnam War, becomes a prisoner of war, and refuses at least some offers to increase the safety and comfort in his life, it's a person that may be described as a war hero in the usual language.

But is that something that should equip the person with some incredible political clout? I don't think so.



John McCain was born into a family of top army or navy officers. He has almost certainly been educated to believe in the blind obedience that is the golden standard in the military. And he was successfully shaped in this way, indeed. Is that surprising? It's not too surprising. Maybe even most genetically different boys who would be educated in such an environment would end up with a very similar, strong attitude towards discipline. Because the resulting opinions were almost determined by the setup, and McCain would have been treated as cr*p if he cooperated with the Vietnamese in the most straightforward way (well, as far as I understand, he finally did cooperate in some way), I can't become impressed.

What about the war experience? Donald Trump has described John McCain as a loser. At a rally, he said that McCain was venerated as a war hero because he was captured. Trump preferred men who are not captured, the winners, while McCain was a loser. Trump's comments were tough but I find it hard to disagree with them. To celebrate someone just because he or she was captured (or a victim) seems counterproductive to me because we don't want our soldiers to be captured, we don't know lots of countrymates to be victims. To some extent, the lionization of the POVs like McCain isn't too different from the victimhood culture promoted by the Left.

But even if he did something "more victorious" in a war (e.g. if he assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, like the Czech and Slovak trained assassins whom we consider heroes – but no Czechs can be described as "real worshipers") and he would have become a real hero without the "loser" flavor, I would still have trouble with the automatic and big political influence of such a man, especially in non-military aspects of politics.

If you go through 25 blog posts containing the name of McCain, you will see some texts in which he is mentioned as a Republican, showing the political leaning of a state; as a guy who hadn't noticed by 2008 that Czechoslovakia was dissolved in 1993; as a proponent of the insane climate alarmist, cap-and-trade bills; and especially as a fanatical and repetitive hater of Russia who always tried to exploit every opportunity to hurt Russian and her image.

But John McCain only studied a naval academy – and as the McCain Wikipedia page says, he only enjoyed the humanities over there. The subjects that were tough for him, e.g. mathematics, were mostly ignored by him. OK and this mathematically challenged guy ends up being a war hero who is supposed to create bills about applied climatology? It just doesn't add up. He not only failed to be an expert. His abilities to deal with similar issues were probably below those of the average American.

McCain's comments and proposed bills related to the climate were almost bound to be misinformed and counterproductive because this guy was totally scientifically illiterate. The defense of a nation is a good thing for the nation but you shouldn't use it as a ticket for someone to act as an expert in other topics – surely not in science. A soldier is really a muscular mindless killing machine. He is supposed to get the right strategic ideas from someone else because he hasn't been selected for those and he hasn't been successfully trained in those. A soldier is like your favorite dog. He may get some extra Pedigree Pal for being a good (obedient) buddy because you find this obedience beneficial. But objectively speaking, this obedience doesn't really make the dog great.

John McCain has stood for lots of typically left-wing causes which is why he's been considered a RINO or a traitor by a bulk of the Republicans. Like his climate alarmism, many of these attitudes were results of his army-like discipline. These days, the American leftwingers love to give orders – what people should do, say, and even think. John McCain has been trained to obey orders which is why he turned into a loyal servant of the Left in very many important political issues.

In some sense, the situation has been ironic. The American rightwingers are naturally expected to be pro-army patriots. On the other hand, these days, the leftwingers are clearly more authoritarian. They tend to issue orders, bans, and define new taboos – through the political correctness and various PC witch hunts. That naturally turns many trained obedient soldiers such as McCain into the tools of the Left. For example, not just John McCain but the whole Pentagon has had some of the insanely childish plans to "fight climate change, an enemy of the American nation". I am sure that most of the ordinary troops are closer to the pro-Trump guys. But the celebrated ones, such as McCain, are more likely to be very obedient which means that they're more likely to be defending left-wing views – simply because the Left is the side that wants the people to be obedient.

A huge fraction of McCain's thinking of recent decades was all about Russophobia. His war hero status was a consequence of the Cold War against the Soviet Union (that got locally hot in the Vietnam proxy war). That's why something he enjoyed, being treated like a hero, has existentially depended on the old way of thinking in which Russia is simply the undisputed "master of the evil" in the whole world. I think that it is the simplest explanation why he became one of the chronic generators of insane conspiracy theories about Russia and hateful remarks against the Russians. He knew that if Americans had noticed that despite imperfections, Russia has actually become another free, democratic, peaceful nation, his war hero status could diminish, too.

I wrote that it's wrong for soldiers like McCain to be allowed a big political clout in topics such as the "climate change" where they have actually proven to be completely incompetent (by the proof, I mean by the poor grades in STEM subjects in the naval academy). But I think it's wrong to allow such people to define the American attitude to Russia, too. They're just too biased – their clout depends on the influence of Russophobia. And McCain didn't really understand Russia as Russia experts should, anyway. He was always extrapolating the commandment "you shall always hate Russia" that he's been brainwashed by. His 2008 comment about "Czechoslovakia" was a great example of his ignorance of the basic facts. If someone hadn't noticed for 15 years that the Soviet Union's closest friend, Czechoslovakia, had had dissolved, how is he supposed to teach others about the alleged Russia's illegitimate influence over the nearby countries? He knows 100 times less about these matters than he should to be taken seriously.

John McCain has also been wrong on immigration, the hawkish attitude to many other conflicts, and other questions. Some two weeks ago, 3 Czech soldiers were killed by a Taliban guy in Afghanistan (a suicide attack that has used explosives) – the Czech tally in Afghanistan is a few dozens of casualties. They're said to have saved other lives by their heroic death which would be cool. I can't verify it. But a discussion reemerged whether it makes sense to send our boys to die into a šithole like Afghanistan. Václav Klaus Jr, the ex-president's son, became the symbol of the "No" answer. He's been hit by various fanatical NATO defenders who resembled the mindless hawkish U.S. attitude to "support our troops". Well, we may also support our troops by not sacrificing their lives for a country that will not become "like us" because they're a very different, less civilized nation, even if the politically correct folks want to turn this self-evident fact into a taboo.

A week ago, I watched the 1996 comedy Mars Attacks! with Jack Nicholson again. Funny Martians (copied from some comics) land here. Lots of people and hippies greet them as great new friends. President Nicholson's advisers are split. When Martians start to destroy everything they see, some defense gradually begins. But I want to mention two characters. A redneck family worships their son, soldier Billy-Glenn Norris, who is so great that he became a soldier (like an ancestor of him). He is trivially killed during one of the first Martians' attacks, while doing a rather stupid thing. On the other hand, his more intellectual brother Richie Norris who has been treated as a complete loser and a black sheep of the family ultimately saves the world when he discovers that the Martians' heads explode when exposed to a quirky musical theme.

I can't decode what the creators of the film actually think about the U.S. army but my interpretation of this part of the film is that it is making fun of the mindless worshiping of the U.S. troops. Some troops may do important things but it is not known in advance. Most soldiers never do a truly useful thing throughout their life because they live their careers in a time of peace. They just go to gyms etc. and are prepared – for years, decades, careers. And others, who experience a war, are captured, disabled, or killed in dull circumstances. Is that really something that should be applauded? On the other hand, even in conflicts, the contributions of totally non-military folks such as Richie Norris may be essential. This is the conclusion that viewers should draw from Mars Attacks! but I am not sure whether they're capable of doing so.

Soldiers are important for the safety of nations or alliances. But that doesn't mean that it's some stellar, spectacular job. Instead, it tends to be a job for healthy men who have trouble to do anything else. I would describe it in the same way as the Higgs sector of the Standard Model was described by – I think it was – Sheldon Glashow. He called the sector "Weinberg's Toilet" because Weinberg added it to the Standard Model and because "it's something that is important for your apartment but it's not necessarily the first thing you want to proudly show to guests". Soldiers are important but they're not something you should brag about.

The neo-Marxists are clearly the most important political group that has temptations to establish a new totalitarian system in many Western countries – or the whole Western civilization. Their conservative opponents are naturally more pro-freedom, more supportive of the individual thinking. This is a potential paradox or a tension that all self-described rightwingers must be aware of. If you worship the discipline excessively, you're bound to be taken by the neo-Marxist Left because it's the side that has clear plans (which are already underway) to benefit from the discipline of the people, often blind discipline.

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