On Friday, Senator John McCain spoke at the at the 2017 Munich Security Conference to give his best defense for the neoliberal world order crumbling all around him. His speech—at times shrill and perpetually desperate—sought to rally the powers of North America and Europe in support of continuing Pax Americana.
Framing the debate as the survival of “the West,” McCain claimed only the United States of America had the right to rule the world because it promoted so-called universal values of rule of law, open commerce, and respect for national sovereignty and independence.
This strange formulation of the West only got stranger when McCain then claimed, “The entire idea of the West is that it is open to any person or any nation that honors or upholds these values.”
The entirety of the history of Western civilization refutes this claim. In fact, the notion itself of “the West” indicates a separation from the rest of humanity. Whether or not you support the ideal of a Western world, the notion that the ideal itself is open to all is blatantly untrue, unless one is redefining colonization and subjugation as a form of openness.
Semantics aside, McCain’s most pronounced gripe was that people in the United States and Europe were uninterested in waging aggressive warfare to maintain the neoliberal world order or Pax Americana. He framed it as a lack of will, and said, “We must be prudent, but we can not wallow in doubt. We must appreciate the limits of our power, but can not allow ourselves to question the rightness and goodness of The West.”
But appreciating the limits of power is not something Senator McCain is apt to do. He is the most reliable warmonger in Congress and supported every military misadventure of the last generation, including the Iraq War. He still supports a war with Syria and Iran, and an extremely aggressive posture with China.
McCain constantly uses his own service in Vietnam as bona fides for his hyper-aggressive approach to foreign policy, though his military record remains contested. McCain claims to have been tortured for his refusal to cooperate with North Vietnamese authorities after being captured.
At the same time, recently obtained recordings reveal McCain participated in North Vietnamese propaganda broadcasts.
In one broadcast, he says he “committed crimes against the Vietnamese people” while serving as an airman and lavished praise on the Vietnamese government for helping to repair the injuries he suffered when his plane was shot down.
A former acquaintance of McCain has also alleged McCain received special treatment while a prisoner of war due to his father being a high ranking military officer at the time.
Hard to believe the Spartans at Thermopylae would be impressed with that service record.
Senator McCain concluded his speech by breathlessly announcing, “I refuse to accept the demise of our world order!” He declared he would still fight for the West because it was morally superior to unnamed “adversaries.”
Regardless of McCain’s wishes, Pax Americana is undeniably imploding. The peoples of the West are disgusted with the last decades of war and economic dislocation and completely uninterested in fighting for a world order that has led to nothing but greed and brutality.
So, while Western imperialists may have left Munich with renewed hope after their group therapy session, the world kept spinning away from a reality that will accommodate their dark desire for domination.