MJ: You not only have had combat experience in Vietnam, but you were also a prisoner of war. When you look at terrorism right now, with people like Osama bin Laden, do you have any reservations about watching strikes like that?
John McCain: You could say, Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that’s depicted? Most of us have never heard of him before. And where there is a parallel with Vietnam is: What’s plan B? What do we do next? We sent our troops into Vietnam to protect the bases. Lyndon Johnson said, Only to protect the bases. Next thing you know…. Well, we’ve declared to the terrorists that we’re going to strike them wherever they live. That’s fine. But what’s next? That’s where there might be some comparison.
It’s worth noting this interview was right after the Clinton Administration attacked Al Qaeda in Somalia and Afghanistan. It’s also worth noting that Sen. McCain’s comments came in mid-September 1998, fully a month after President Clinton ordered U.S. military strikes at terrorist-related facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan because of the imminent threat they presented to our national security.
It’s also worth noting Sen. McCain’s comments questioning whether Osama Bin Laden was really the bad guy that he was depicted to be came only a few months after Bin Laden threatened the U.S. on television, saying:
“We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians. They are all targets.”
Yeah, I guess I can see why Sen. McCain didn’t think Osama Bin Laden was the bad guy people were making him out to be.
H/T to Jim Dallas.