CORRECTION: As a blog that strives to maintain credibility and transparency, we would like to explain our mistake. When we were alerted to the tip that Adm. Ziemer gave a similar speech in 1996, we searched LexisNexis and McCain’s campaign site for whether the senator used the disputed phrases before that time. We did not find anything. After we published the post, the McCain campaign contacted us and pointed to a speech given by the senator in 1995, which appears on McCain’s Senate site. As soon as we were alerted to the error, we rushed to publish a correction. Once again, we regret the error, and we apologize for it.
Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) gave a foreign policy speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. He stated:
I detest war. It might not be the worst thing to befall human beings, but it is wretched beyond all description. When nations seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million tragedies ensue. The lives of a nation’s finest patriots are sacrificed.
Innocent people suffer and die. Commerce is disrupted; economies are damaged; strategic interests shielded by years of patient statecraft are endangered as the exigencies of war and diplomacy conflict. Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers most keenly.
These lines are not McCain’s own. As TP reader 5th Estate discovered, they were in fact taken largely from a 1996 speech by ret. Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer. Below is a comparison of McCain’s address yesterday with Ziemer’s in 1996:
|War is awful and when nations seek to resolve their differences by fighting, a million tragedies ensue. [Link]||When nations seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million tragedies ensue. [Link]|
|War is wretched beyond description. [Link]||It might not be the worst thing to befall human beings, but it is wretched beyond all description. [Link]|
|Nothing, not the valor with which it is fought, nor the cause with which it serves can glorify war. [Link]||Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. [Link]|
Nowhere in yesterday’s speech does McCain give credit to Ziemer. Additionally, it’s not the first occasion that McCain has stolen Ziemer’s words, as 5th Estate notes. McCain also used these words on Aug. 20, 2007:
“We do share a secret, but it is not a romantic remembrance of war,” McCain said early in his speech. “War is awful. When nations seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million tragedies ensue. Nothing, not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war.“
It’s unclear whether Ziemer is tied to the McCain campaign, but a search of both his campaign and Senate websites turned up no references to the admiral. He does, however, have ties to the Bush administration. In June 2006, Bush appointed Ziemer to head his President’s Malaria Initiative. Ziemer was also honored with a spot in First Lady Laura Bush’s box at the President’s 2007 State of the Union address.
As Huffington Post noted yesterday, portions of McCain’s World Affairs Council speech were recycled from a pre-war speech the senator gave in 2001.
,It appears that Ziemer’s speech may have been plagiarized from McCain. According to the McCain campaign, the senator used these lines before Ziemer — in 1995. We regret the error.