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John McCain & the Liberty Medal: history just rang a bell

On 16th October the world received a clear signal of what is valued by the ruling elites of the United States – John McCain was awarded the 2017 Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Centre. Whatever John McCain received that medal for – it was not ‘liberty’.  History doesn’t actually ring a bell, but it does provide signals of what is to come. John McCain’s medal represents the hijacking of liberty to justify tyranny.

“Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few” – James Madison, ‘Political Observations’, 1795.

“The truth is that neither British nor American imperialism was or is idealistic. It has always been driven by economic or strategic interests” – Charley Reese, American Journalist, 1972-2008.

A warning

Within the next twenty years, students of history will be asking themselves what led to the rapid decline of US influence in global affairs in the early 21st century. Some will focus on economics, some on demographics, some will point to the rise of China. These will all shed some light. But those who view history through the prism of ‘power’ and its effects on ‘ethics’ will have a more compelling and morbid tale – particularly for the many billions of people who are not members of ‘the western alliance’.

The growing number of nations that hold the US in fear and contempt, rather than trust, speaks of a government that has ceded its moral legitimacy. The governing class of the United States has turned its back on its founding principles: liberty and the right of self-determination. Ironically, Washington has become the thing that its namesake overthrew at the birth of the republic: a liar and a bully – a ‘taker’. The arrogance and hubris that brings an empire to its knees is not something new; it happened to Rome, but it wasn’t supposed to happen to America – the founders gave numerous warnings of the dangers.

These modern historians will find the roots of this decline in the numerous wars that America has embraced since WWII – wars like Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. They will analyse dozens of ‘regime change’ operations that the US has led, from Iran in the fifties, to Libya and Syria in our current decade. They will point to assassination attempts such as the recently revealed plots against Castro; they will list numerous ‘false flag’ incidents such as the Gulf of Tonkin and others yet to be officially acknowledged; and perhaps even more disturbingly – the media will be found to have been complicit in these false narratives.

Many careers that look quite ‘shiny’ through our current lens will look very tarnished in the years ahead. The fabulous ‘legacies; that politicians dream of and journalists drone on about, will be revealed for what they are – fantasies of the self-obsessed. There will be no vindication for Bush and Blair, no matter how many pictures they paint or rehabilitation projects they mount. They set fire to the Middle East on a false pretext – end of.

And most importantly historians will connect America’s decline with the ascendency of corporate, military and ‘intelligence’ interests that have put elected politicians and the media exactly where they want them – in their pockets and under their thumb. Eisenhower called this the ‘Military-Industrial Complex’; some people call it the ‘Deep State’, Obama referred to ‘The Blob’. Personally I don’t care what you call it – what matters is that the vested interests that ‘own’ Washington are real, and they make a lot of money out of America’s wars.


When I was in business, I would read the prevailing ‘culture’ in an organisation, and the likely effect it was having on productivity, without having to wait three weeks for a team of number crunchers to tell me how good or bad the news was. Data is important, but you don’t need a spreadsheet to know something is wrong. When you walk into a room and nobody makes eye contact – it tells you something. When people drop litter on top of an over-flowing waste-paper basket because ‘it’s the cleaners job to empty it’ – it tells you something, as it does when you sit in the boardroom and the smell of bullshit overpowers the aroma of the coffee. But the biggest ‘tell’ is to look for signs of ‘what we value around here’ – what gets appreciated, rewarded and reinforced, and what doesn’t.

On 16th October we got a very clear signal of what is valued by the ruling elites of the United States – John McCain was awarded the 2017 Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Centre.

John McCain and Liberty

Whatever John McCain received that medal for – it was not ‘liberty’. It is said that Hillary Clinton has never met a war that she didn’t like. If that is true, as it undoubtedly is, I would have to add that John McCain has never met a war that he didn’t want to make babies with. Here he is in a foreign policy debate during the Republican Primary campaign in February 2000:

“I’d institute a policy that I call ‘rogue state rollback’; I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically-elected governments.”

McCain lost that campaign to another great lover of national self-determination, George W Bush. Having returned to the Senate, he came back eight years later to win the Republican nomination, before losing to Barack Obama in the general election. Here he is from a meeting during that campaign, singing an alternative version of the Beach Boys’ hit ‘Barbara Ann’:

“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran”.

Fast-forward a further eight years and America has another new president, Donald Trump, a man who was elected on promises of détente with Russia and a policy of non-intervention. Less than a year later and those promises are long dead, poisoned by an epidemic of Russia-phobia, conducted through a media that takes every opportunity to attack Trump…except when he engages in war talk and/or snuggles up with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Washington is addicted to war and the threat of war. The corporate interests that feed off a military budget of $700+ billion a year, along with their cronies in Congress, will have it no other way. In recent years the number of organisations in the ‘death business’ has continued to grow as military interventions are increasingly outsourced to private ‘security’ contractors, AKA mercenaries, and even terrorist organisations such as ISIS and al-Qaeda – a fact that was finally admitted a few weeks ago when Trump publicly ordered the CIA to cease its funding of al-Qaeda in Syria.

Despite being eighty years old with major health problems, John McCain is still the poster-boy for this war machine.

You will not read these criticisms voiced in the mainstream media, and of course Washington will never tell the truth about its wars.

The purpose of the mainstream narrative is to create moral justification for them: To make the homicide of thousands of innocent people seem like the unfortunate side effect of fulfilling a ‘noble cause’ – rather than what it really is: the slaughter of people deemed to be expendable in the interests of economic and strategic objectives.

McCain’s acceptance speech was a perfect example of such propaganda.

The Acceptance Speech

You can read the full speech here:

There were essentially four sections to the speech. I am not including the opening remarks, which were the customary ‘buddy’ routine with the other big cheese in the room – in this case, the former VP Joe Biden, with whom McCain has a long relationship.

1. The ‘set up’ – McCain casts US hegemony as a ‘blessing’, granted at the end of WW2, and alive to this day:

“We are blessed, and we have been a blessing to humanity in turn. The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and that we defend to this day, has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world. And as we did so, we made our own civilisation more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7, 1941”.

2. The ‘against’ – here he puts his stake in the ground in opposition to Trump’s election promise to stop intervening in other nations’ affairs:

“To fear the world we have organised and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain “the last best hope of Earth” for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history”.

3. The ‘sell’ – he appeals to a moral crusade, to ‘ideals’ that have long since been soaked in the blood that he dismisses as secondary:

“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to”.

4. The ‘big finish’ – to rouse the crowd and draw them into the delusion that ‘the world’ really is dumb enough to regard 21st century Washington as an example of anything other than duplicity:

“May God bless America, and give us the strength and wisdom, the generosity and compassion, to do our duty for this wondrous land, and for the world that counts on us. With all its suffering and dangers, the world still looks to the example and leadership of America to become, another, better place. What greater cause could anyone ever serve?”.

What greater cause could anyone ever serve? Liberty. Let other nations find their own way…as America sought to find its own way 241 years ago.


America’s wars are not fought for high ideals – they are fought to maintain its economic and military supremacy.

When the US levelled North Korea to the ground in the early fifties, it was not done to free the 2.5 million people that died in the process (some 30% of the population).

Saddam was not championing liberty when he used chemical weapons against Iran in the eighties. His war was conducted with the full support of Washington. Neither was he threatening the US when he destroyed his WMDs in the early ‘noughties’. On the contrary he did it in the mistaken belief that this would dissuade the US from invading Iraq.

The evidence is clear: When Washington wants war; it finds an excuse for war. Here are the words of General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the US forces that slaughtered 30% of the North Korean population – a guy in a good position to comment:

“Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear – kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervour – with the cry of grave national emergency…

Always there has been some terrible evil to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant sums demanded.

Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.”

History doesn’t actually ring a bell, but it does provide signals of what is to come. John McCain’s medal represents the hijacking of ‘liberty’ to justify ‘tyranny’.

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