Friday, July 30, 2004

Blogger Ross at Three Sheets to the Wind has a post about my comments about chickenhawks. Here is part of it, click here for the rest (he has a good blog, it's worth checking out).
  • But my point is more about the stupidity of the "chickenhawk" label. A chickhawk is apparently someone who has not served in the military but advocates military action. Now on the face of it is an ad hominem attack and I'd think a lawyer like PD Dude wouldn't engage in fallacious arguing. The appropriateness of military action has nothing to do with the person recommending it. It either is warranted or it is not. Whether the person advocating for the war has been to war or not is irrelevant.And it was irrelevant to the left when Bill Clinton, who didn't even bother to serve in the guard or reserve, was President and bombed Iraq and sent troops to Kosovo (not to mention continuing in Somalia). That, for the current "chickenhawk" name-callers is called hypocrisy.

Here is my response.

I think that the whole notion of "chickenhawks" came about due to the right. Remember, it was Bush Sr. who made a point about Clinton dodging the draft. The right has consistently used the left's unwillingness to serve, or opposition to the war, as unAmerican.
Now the tables are turned. At least those liberals who failed to serve opposed the war. There is a difference when you support something, but only support other people having to do it.
People like Cheney and Bush, Quayle, Buchanan, Limbaugh, Wolfowitz, Perle, and plenty of other present day hawks, not to mention the hawkish parents of at least some of these people (Bush and Quayle to name just 2) hold hawkish views, support sending people in to die, but are not willing to do so themselves. At the same time, they use (maybe not personally, but their political cohorts) language that assails the patriotism of liberals who protest and do not serve in the war.

Limbaugh made great hay over the years pointing out that Clinton was protesting and trying to avoid the draft while others were dying. Well, at least Clinton was opposed to the war he dodged, rather than supporting it like Limbaugh and avoiding it. I think that there is a qualitative difference. Regardless, this is a shield that has been turned into a sword by the left after years of being battered by it. It is only through the cruelest of ironies that just about every hawk in the Bush administration managed to avoid serving in the military, or at least avoided combat through personal or family connections. The administration doves (namely Powell and Armitage) both served in combat.

I don't think that you have to have served in order to lead, or even to lead us into combat. However, I think it represents something about a person's character when you are especially willing and anxious to send out troops into combat (as the neo-cons have clearly been), while at the same time you are equally willing and anxious to avoid serving on your own. If something is so important to risk so many lives, then it is important for all American lives, not just poor minority ones, or the lives of people without the connections to avoid the draft, get into the national guard (which during Vietnam was a get out of combat free card) or get college deferments.

Now, if Clinton had previously annuonced that he was a conscientious objector (CO), said that all killing was wrong, and he would not serve for that reason, and then gone on to become a president who bombed Iraq and Serbia and used force in plenty of other situations, then clearly we would have a similar situation. For that reason, I would have to say that anyone who feels that force is never justified is probably not someone able to properly lead this country. I would probably say this regardless of wether or not they served, as we need to use force in many instances. However, if such a person did become president and then used force, after justifying their non-service with a CO type of a claim, that person would have equally suspect character.

I do not consider it an ad homenum attack to point out how a person's lack of service may affect their thinking, and, especially in this administration, where the hawks so overwhelmnigly did not serve while the doves did, a clear pattern appears that cannot escape attention.


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