What exploits was John McCain known for?

BILD recalls John McCain's heroic deeds and political positions.

"John McCain was an American hero." On the day of his death, this was not said by a companion of the Republican who died on Saturday at the age of 81, but by one of his greatest critics, the top left Democrat Bernie Sanders.

McCain achieved this heroic status very early in his life. On October 26, 1967, the then 31-year-old was shot down during a mission near the North Vietnamese capital Hanoi and was taken prisoner. Seriously injured, he was tortured for weeks and lost a lot of weight over the months in the horrific detention conditions.

After a year and a half, the North Vietnamese wanted to release him. The reason: They wanted to land a PR coup because McCain's father (like his grandfather) was a highly decorated admiral in the US Navy. But McCain refused and did not want to go back to the USA as long as soldiers who had been captured before him were still detained. This added four years to his term.

The veteran began his political career in the Republican Party in 1977 and was elected Senator for the State of Arizona in 1986. He held this post through multiple re-elections until his death on August 25, 2018.

But McCain's ambitions went far beyond that. He wanted to be president in both 2000 and 2008, but failed both times. 2000 in the Republican primary campaign against George W. Bush and in 2008 in the main election campaign against Barack Obama.

McCain showed true greatness in his speech on November 5, 2008, the night he lost the battle for the presidency to Barack Obama. When the people of Phoenix booed Obama, he asked them to hold back and instead support Obama in reuniting the US. McCain then declared, "All the best to the man who was my former opponent and who will be my president."

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He - Obama's opponent - had already fended off attacks on his Afro-American opponents from within his own electorate. When a woman accusingly complained during a campaign rally that Obama was “an Arab,” McCain countered: “No, ma'am. No ma'am. He's a decent family man, a citizen with whom I have disagreements on fundamental issues right now, and that is what this campaign is about. It is not him. Thanks."

McCain's commitment to Syria and Ukraine

As an influential senator with a focus on US foreign policy, McCain stood up for democracy and human rights and against dictatorships and the aggressive politics of Russia.

As early as 2013, before ISIS existed and at a time when mainly moderate opposition forces in Syria were still fighting against dictator Assad, he secretly visited the fighters of the Free Syrian Army in the country and called on the world to support them.

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McCain advocated arming them. With the exception of small CIA programs and indirect arms aid via Saudi Arabia, however, the Senator was unable to prevail against the soothing Obama administration or the isolationist Trump administration.

Correspondingly bitter, he declared in late 2017: “Reports that the Trump administration is ready to accept four more years of Assad's rule in Syria are deeply worrying and would confirm the de facto policies of two consecutive US administrations that could not finish the slaughter. "

In Ukraine, too, McCain was one of the driving forces behind a Western arming of the armed forces against Russia's hostilities in the south and east of the European country. As early as 2014, McCain participated in a Senate paper aimed at equipping Ukrainians with modern anti-tank weapons. Putin had sent over 600 main battle tanks to Ukraine, inflicting devastating defeats on the Kiev armed forces. But the Obama administration refused to authorize the military aid.

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It wasn't until December 2017 that Donald Trump signed the paper and the guns were delivered. McCain said the decision was "years overdue". President Trump's decision to "bring Javelin anti-tank missiles into Ukraine is another important step in the right direction and a strong signal," said McCain. The weapons would help Ukraine "defend itself against further Russian aggression".

McCain's summary words on the deal are representative of his belief that the US must intervene where democracy and freedom are at risk. Not with words, but with deeds on the side of the oppressed and Western-oriented forces: "As I have argued for a long time, the provision of defensive lethal aid is not directed against peace (...), but it is an essential component, to reach him. "