I was surprised to hear the great Stevie Wonder — the creator of the searing anti-war, anti-Vietnam song “Front Line” — paid tribute to John McCain in the middle of a concert this past weekend.
On one hand it made sense, as Wonder has always been about love and forgiveness, and he’s rarely had a bad word for anyone. But he is also a political voice, who sings passionately about America’s inability to reckon with its violent nature.
That 1983 song, “Front Line,” describes a phenomenon we don’t talk about much: Our unthinking worship of all things military, and our unparalleled ability to quickly forget military atrocities, so as to embrace the inevitable next invasion.
We leave smoldering ash-piles around the world, and instead of wondering why we’re hated in those places, we keep thinking it’s football and we’ll just call the right plays the next game. “We’ll get ‘em next time” became our official foreign policy, and McCain was long ago elevated as chief spokesperson.
McCain never changed his mind about Vietnam, in particular, and it colored his opinion of every war that followed. Here’s what McCain wrote in 2003, months into the invasion of Iraq:
We lost in Vietnam because we lost the will to fight, because we did not understand the nature of the war we were fighting and because we limited the tools at our disposal.
McCain added that Iraqis had less chance to “win” because they “do not enjoy the kind of sanctuary North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos provided.”
Between 1963 and 1974, we dropped two million tons of ordnance on Laos — not North Vietnam, but Laos — which works out to “a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, 24 hours per day, for nine years.”
The death toll from that one country is said to be 70,000 (50,000 during the war, 20,000 who died later from unexploded bombs). Similar operations in North Vietnam are said to have killed 182,000 civilians, and estimates about bombing deaths in Cambodia range from 30,000 to 150,000.
Posted by Libergirl