Senator John McCain, 81, died yesterday after more than a year of struggle with brain cancer. McCain passed at his ranch near Sedona, Arizona surrounded by his family.
In the year following the election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency, on a platform of blunt “America First” approach that seems to bypass any commitment, moral or contractual that the world’s superpower had previously taken, McCain was the one US Senator who undertook dozens of international trips, meeting with allies, partners, and interlocutors worldwide.
His message was consistent: the United States will remain committed to universal values, to the principles of justice, freedom, and fairness, irrespective of what one American Administration threatens or does.
It was John McCain, who died yesterday after more than a year of struggle with brain cancer.
The senator from Arizona sought twice the presidency, in 2000 and 2008, was nominated once by his Republican Party, in 2008, but never made it to the White House.
His biography is a textbook story of American values: of loyalty to country, with McCain serving, getting injured, and fallen captive, in the Vietnam war; of unmistakable dignity, refusing the privilege of being released early, as the son of the US Commander of the Pacific fleet; and of courage, enduring instead years of torture in captivity. Yet, decades later, McCain sought to normalize relations with Vietnam, which he visited repeatedly since.
McCain who, long before the inward looking “America First” posture of today, had “Country First” as his campaign slogan, understood the US interests as being tied to the prosperity and freedom achieved by others. His was not a zero-sum world, but one in which progress can be mutual and shared.
In the many parts of the world, the hope is today that the vision of McCain, as the calling of the United States will endure after his passing, that the life and career of this devoted man will continue to inform US policy in an age of uncertainty.
We in Bangladesh share the world’s sorrow for his passing and its celebration of his life. But we Bangladeshis also mourns John McCain as family. McCain is the adoptive father of a young lady of Bangladeshi origin. Bangladeshis share the personal loss of this young woman, and her country which remains proud of its immigrant roots, irrespective of any passing noise.
Maneeza Hossain is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Washington DC based think tank.