Friday, January 05, 2007

McCain, Vietnam, a Troop Surge and the Presidency...



I'm going to combine two posts into one here --not out of laziness, but because the two things mesh so perfectly...

I finished reading "When Hell Was In Session" on Wednesday (so good I read it in 1 day and a half -even though it was printed in the '70's and had that Bible-sized font...). I am so glad this was recommended to me because I would have never known it existed. It's out of print, but you can find it on Amazon's Used Marketplace. Everyone should read it.

Anyway, as I read this recount of the Hanoi Hilton written by one of its longest occupants, Jeremiah Denton, I was in constant horror at what these men endured...some for up to 9 years! I couldn't help but think about John McCain as I read about the rats eating through infected flesh, the roaches, the feces soup, the prolonged torture, the starvation and the hopelessness. After reading what he went through I vacillated between thinking I may have to vote for him regardless of how much he annoys me sometimes (--this man has earned the right to be the President by virtue of this sacrifice alone) and being more mad at him than I was before by the fact that he belittled his own torture (real, actual, horrible torture) by equating what American troops were doing with what the North Vietnamese did to him.

Adding to the tremendous respect I've always had for McCain as a man, is the fact that he is pushing for this surge in troops even though it might mean his 18 year old son goes to Iraq. There could be no better proof that he believes in what he's proposing--whether I agree or not.

Another aspect of the book I wish more Americans knew about are the sections that described how the treatment of the POWs got worse as the anti-war crowd became more vocal and how their statements were played inside the prison to break the morale and spirit of the already physically broken men.

...So first I said if it wasn't Fred Thompson in '08 it would be Giuliani--but after reading this I think I'm now over with McCain...It's going to be a long two years...

There are SO many excerpts from this book I'd love to transcribe here...but I'll pick one that former Senator Denton wrapped up the book with (which is just as applicable to the situation today):

"Sadly, I believe that apathy and disunity at home led to the betrayal of millions of Southeast Asians. The war that was won by the heavy bombing of North Vietnam in December of 1972 was lost in the following months by a mood of disunity and by weakness in the national character.
In a democracy, the leadership can't just do what it wants to do. Essentially it is governed by the mood and the morality of the people and what the people will permit. I believe we should have some consideration for the leader who tries to run the country amidst tremendous complexity and ever-ready criticism. For many years now this country had operated without a bipartisan foreign policy, and one result has been a flood of one-sided criticism of the leadership...
Arms, of course are just part of the answer; we must be morally and spiritually strong as well, and believe in our mission. And we must remember that peace is not simply the absence of war. Those in slavery have no peace, as Solzhenitsyn tells us."
-Admiral Jeremiah Denton

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