John McCain and the Moral War – courtesy of Geopolitical Futures

by Marilou Moursund on August 29, 2018

in Military,Tribute

Geopolitical Futures published an obituary for John McCain today, and like many of their pieces, it ties together many historical and geopolitical threads.  From the linked article:

There’s a saying that John McCain never saw a war he didn’t like. That is only partly true. He understood the price of war more than most. What McCain believed was that the United States, rightly or wrongly, had a strategic and moral obligation to use its power to impose liberal democratic principles. He proselytized war, that heavy instrument of human violence, because he believed it was the best way to end tyranny and its associated human rights abuses. His voting record on the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, to name just a few, attests to this belief.

It seems ironic that a neoconservative (as he was called) should have the same moral ends as human rights groups (as they are called). Both hold that the values of liberal democracy are moral imperatives, and both want the United States to use its power to reshape the world, often with the same tools – lectures, sanctions, intervention, and so on. I say it seems ironic because it really isn’t. It is the vision of U.S. foreign policy that emerged from World War II, which imparted its lessons to students such as McCain.

The United States saw World War II as a moral war. The Axis powers were evil states that did evil things. Their people needed to be saved from their own governments. It’s a tempting thought to dismiss, but doing so, I think, would be a mistake. There were important strategic considerations for joining the war, of course, but the immorality of the Axis powers was the basis for the sacrifice. That sacrifice required the use of overwhelming force, which led to the destruction of those regimes, the imposition of liberal democracy and the liberation of the Japanese, German and Italian people.

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