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McCain’s Extremely Selective Sense of Shame

John McCain is deeply ashamed that the U.S. isn’t helping to get more people killed in Ukraine. He said this on the subject yesterday:

I’m ashamed of my country, I’m ashamed of my president and I’m ashamed of myself that I haven’t done more to help these people.

McCain feels shame only when the U.S. refuses to take futile action that would cause more death and destruction somewhere in the world. Has McCain ever expressed the slightest shame or remorse for the invasion of Iraq that killed well over a hundred thousand Iraqis and displaced millions more? If so, he has managed to keep it well-hidden for twelve years. Is he at all ashamed that he was a leading advocate for bombing Libya, which is now on the verge of collapse thanks to the “help” he urged Western governments to provide? I can’t recall that he has ever mentioned it. If the U.S. wages an unnecessary war that results in disorder, violence, and large losses of life, McCain’s conscience is unmoved. This is despite the fact that he has been a leading advocate for every U.S. military intervention of the last twenty years. If the U.S. does not volunteer to add fuel to an ongoing conflict and ensure that even more people die, that is when he begins to rend his clothes in mourning. Like his fellow amigo Lindsey Graham, McCain will probably “feel better” if the U.S. starts throwing weapons at the problem no matter what happens to the people he so desperately wants to “help.”

To be clear, sending arms to Ukraine would very likely result in the escalation of the conflict, a significant increase in casualties (most of them Ukrainian), and additional losses of territory to the separatists backed by Russia. By every measure, the people McCain thinks we should be “helping” would be worse off when all is said and done, and the U.S. would then be partly responsible for that outcome. Nonetheless, it is the opposition to making this major policy blunder that fills McCain with shame. One couldn’t ask for a better example of why McCain’s foreign policy recommendations should always be ignored.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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