A BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
September 8, 2002
Teaching the Washington Post a Lesson About Chickenhawks
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
I sent this letter to a Washington Post reporter in reaction to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A45835-2002Sep6?language=printer
RE: "Chickenhawk Vs. Chicken Little"
Dear Terry Neal,
You apparently do not understand what a "chickenhawk" is. It is a person who found a way to avoid serving in his country's military during time of war -- when all about him men were being drafted -- and yet is blithe to send other young men off to die in a war.
It is not SIMPLY a question of certain presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln, not having served in the military; it is a question of avoiding serving during wartime. If there was no war and no draft during Abraham Lincoln's youth, or at least NOT a war where other young men were being rounded up to serve, then he is NOT a "chickenhawk" by definition.
It was deceptive of you to give the name of Abraham Lincoln as an example of a man who had not served in the military and yet led a war. His example was not that of a "chickenhawk"; he did not dodge serving. There was no war that needed or required his service. I should point out that to be a "chickenhawk," one must not only have avoided (by any creative means necessary!) serving in the military, one must also be a fierce advocate of going to war. I do not believe anyone would make the case that Abraham Lincoln was a fierce advocate of going to war; in fact, he was quite the opposite and did all he could to avoid war. Once it was forced upon him (remember Fort Sumter?), he fought the war to the best of his ability. But it was not his zealotry that led to war; it was the zealots in the South who wanted war.
As for the case of George W. Bush, he did not simply serve "with the Air National Guard in Houston during Vietnam," as you so blithely put it; he was AWOL from that same Texas Air National Guard for a year. In fact, as I understand it, one is AWOL only for a month; after that, if one is still "gone," it is DESERTION.
I think it is high time someone at the Washington Post investigates where Mr. Bush was during that year when he was not reporting for duty as required by law. He was not there for a year. Was he AWOL? Was he a deserter? Those are important questions that should be asked, and answered.
I'll say it again: a "chickenhawk" is one who evades serving in the military and finds an excuse not to serve -- during wartime when there is a draft. The term does NOT apply to people who simply, because there was no draft and no war, did not serve. It is the avoidance and the evasion that define a "chickenhawk" and a zeal for other young men to go to war.
First, there is the "chicken" and, then, there is the "hawk." Both parts must be satisfied to qualify someone as a "chickenhawk."
A BuzzFlash Reader
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BuzzFlash Note: Add to the definition of a Chickenhawk as a coward (who let other young man die in his place while advocating the war in Vietnam): Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Tom DeLay, among other members of the Grand Hypocrisy Party Hawk Wing.
is also important to remember that Bush CHOSE not to serve in Vietnam
This is not solely a question of military leadership versus civilian leadership. This is also a question of two cowards and hypocrites -- Bush and Cheney -- sending young men and women off to war when they had yellow streaks down their back during the Vietnam War.
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Reader Contribution II on Chickenhawks and the Washington Post
After having seen the letter you published trying to explain the meaning of chickenhawk to a frightened one, I offer this copy of one I sent to the Washington Post (and a copy to MWO)
This is the copy of an email I sent to the Washington Post after its publication of an op-ed piece entitled 'Hunting Chickenhawks' by Eliot A. Cohen: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A38443-2002Sep4.html
I am probably wasting my precious bandwidth writing this. But if this argument is any indication of Professor Cohen's writing, I am happy not to have wasted my time with his book.
In this piece, he creates one straw man after another only to demolish it with totally irrelevant argument. I suppose at Johns Hopkins University this passes as wisdom. The issue with 'chickenhawks', however, is not their lack of military experience per se, nor the intellectual or moral authority of the military per se, but the hypocrisy of the 'chickenhawks!'. The issue is that these persons, in order to advance their personal ambitions, avoided participation in a war which they themselves advocated (either at the time or later) and that now, for the advancement of their personal ambitions, they are very willing to concoct one argument after another, not significantly different in quality than the ones propounded by Cohen, the end of which is the endangerment of others.
They were wrong in avoiding participating in the adventure they advocated and even more wrong in their advocacy in that case. We are asked now to trust their opinions. On what basis? On their political connections? What else do they have to offer?
And isn't it odd that the largest group of advocates of a ground war with Iraq is made up of these people? What an odd coincidence! And isn't it just as odd that their defenders are of the same ilk?
Take it from this ignorant veteran, who volunteered during wartime and is discredited by these specious arguments and who doesn't have the military wisdom Professor Cohen gained as officer in the Army Reserve during the 1980's nor from a lifetime spent fighting the bloody battles of academia nor in the hand-to-back struggles that take place in the halls of politics or in think tanks, I find these pseudo arguments, this massacre of a batallion of straw men, offensively silly and supremely ignorant.
And the idea that they pay this ignorant ass for this is just as offensive. But then who else could write a book George W. Bush can read.
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Note from a Third BuzzFlash Reader:
Abraham Lincoln did serve in the military.
Abe volunteered for service in the militia during the 1831 Black Hawk War. His men promptly elected him captain. Lincoln said later in life that this honor "gave me more pleasure than any I have had since". It provided the first significant indication of his gift for leadership.
Source: World Book Encyclopedia.
A Buzzflash reader
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From a Fourth BuzzFlash Reader:
This was my response to the Washington Post re: an article excusing the chickenhawks by Eliot Cohen.
Poor Eliot. Poor Chickenhawks. Being picked on just because they did not serve in the military.
Well, as with most hypocrites, he has tried to obscure the real point. Didn't serve? That's okay. He's right: It is not a requirement to have military experience to serve in the government and make decisions about war. The real issue lies behind their own lies. How many of these people called Bill Clinton a coward because he did not serve in the military? How many of them question the patriotism of the Democrats -- who did serve their country? The 2000 campaign is just the most obvious point. They lashed out at Al Gore, saying he was only a journalist in Vietnam. At least he served.
And why did they not serve? Was it a matter of conscience? No, it was a matter of convenience, of being fearful of being hurt or killed. Cheney: Other priorities. Bush? Couldn't even complete all of his commitment to the reserves. Gingrich? Coward. Ashcroft? Coward. Lott? Coward. They show no compunction in questioning others' patriotism. They are liars and hypocrites.
On the same hand, being eager to send someone else to die in your place doesn't make you a patriot. The people of this country deserve to know the truth about those who are so eager to go to war.
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