Monday, July 24, 2006

The "ChickenHawk" Slur

Tip of the Karridine Kepi to Jeff Jacoby: here's his sterling dissection of

The ChickenHawk Attack! (568K)
(Right-click and "Save as...")



Jeff Jacoby on the progressive blogosphere’s favorite dishonest slur: Are you a ‘chicken hawk?’

“Chicken hawk“ isn’t an argument. It is a slur — a dishonest and incoherent slur. It is dishonest because those who invoke it don’t really mean what they imply — that only those with combat experience have the moral authority or the necessary understanding to advocate military force. After all, US foreign policy would be more hawkish, not less, if decisions about war and peace were left up to members of the armed forces. Soldiers tend to be politically conservative, hard-nosed about national security, and confident that American arms make the world safer and freer. On the question of Iraq — stay-the-course or bring-the-troops-home? — I would be willing to trust their judgment. Would Cindy Sheehan and Howard Dean?

The cry of “chicken hawk” is dishonest for another reason: It is never aimed at those who oppose military action. But there is no difference, in terms of the background and judgment required, between deciding to go to war and deciding not to. If only those who served in uniform during wartime have the moral standing and experience to back a war, then only they have the moral standing and experience to oppose a war. Those who mock the views of “chicken hawks“ ought to be just as dismissive of “chicken doves.”

In any case, the whole premise of the “chicken hawk“ attack — that military experience is a prerequisite for making sound pronouncements on foreign policy — is illogical and ahistorical. ...

You don’t need medical training to express an opinion on healthcare. You don’t have to be on the police force to comment on matters of law and order. You don’t have to be a parent or a teacher or a graduate to be heard on the educational controversies of the day. You don’t have to be a journalist to comment on this or any other column.

And whether you have fought for your country or never had that honor, you have every right to weigh in on questions of war and peace. Those who cackle “Chicken hawk!” are not making an argument. They are merely trying to stifle one, and deserve to be ignored.


Anonymous mike said...

I agree that past experience doesn't necessarily disqualify someone from being able to make sound judgments when advocating military action, but it sure does help to prevent committing to unnecessary wars unless its go#`#amned justified.

It helps to know the horrors that the troops will involved with when they execute the policy - and that horror wont have anything to do with whether the President will be reelected or what his legacy in history will be.

Too often, wars will be started because of pride or politics and have nothing to do with the defense of the country. A young president will feel enormous pressure from the hawks in govt to "do something" during a confrontation with an antagonist country or else be called "weak" - which is something that can end his career. In those situations its easier to start a war than to prevent one.
The inexperienced executive might have been advocating war up to a point, before seeing theres not enough reason to justify it, or just for posturing - but if the politicians and the generals are screaming for something to be done because their pride was possibly injured or how the country will "appear" if they dont take action Now, then the Easy way out might be to do what they want - to start a war.

But an exec who better knows the horror from the grunt's and civilian's view, will keep that weight in proper perspective and weigh it against the general's and politician's arguments.

A good executive will be one that avoids unnecessary war, at all costs to him personally. A good case in point was with a young president Kennedy, who was being pushed by the Russians and the military leaders here looking at him closely to see what he was made of. He had already demanded the missiles in Cuba be taken away, prior to the missile crisis. Most of the advise he was getting was against a blockade and for an invasion - the generals who won ww2 wanted to start bombing without delay.

At a risk of being called "weak", he chose the minority opinion to blockade instead of a military invasion. Nobody knew at the time how good a decision that was and how disastrous an invasion would have been because it wasn't known then how many nukes the defending Russians possessed and were ready to use on the invading forces.

Not all conflicts are going to be that high level - it might only risk a few people - They are still lives to be respected though. One "cure" or "qualifier" to shed a chickenhawk label is for the exec to spend some time in a hospital with the wounded, caring for them - or just being there and concentrating on whats going on from their perspectives. Maybe one day a month for a few months will help. (Cameras will be verboten, so it cant be confused as a photo op). I would almost guarantee a different exec for it - a better one (and not a pacifist).

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 9:47:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Mike, a cogent and well-articulated set of observations.

"..One "cure" or "qualifier" to shed a chickenhawk label is for the exec to spend some time in a hospital with the wounded, caring for them - or just being there and concentrating on whats going on from their perspectives. Maybe one day a month for a few months will help..."

This is one of the things which lets me be justly proud of America's serving president, when I find out MONTHS after it happened, that he's been visiting wounded, serving those in active duty and taking questions from military of all ranks, he shows some PRINCIPLED CHARACTER, and not the photo-op gutlessness of the media-addicted anklebiters who snipe at his every move.

Please don't misunderstand: I have VALID GRIPES about our President's efforts in several areas, but his honest caring compassion for America's military and those wounded in action is NOT among those gripes!

Stop by more often, THANK YOU for sharing!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 10:18:00 AM  

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