Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Proud to Be a Chickenhawk

Jeff Jacoby, writing in the Boston Globe this week, attacked the use of the insult "chicken hawk," which is often hurled by anti-war activists at those who support going to war but have never served in the military. "'Chicken hawk' isn't an argument. It is a slur -- a dishonest and incoherent slur," writes Jacoby. "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." You can imagine the frustration and anger conservatives feel at having this insult lobbed at us. Considering all of the thought and hard work we put into coming up with various rationales for the War in Iraq, it hardly seems fair to respond by making personal attacks against us. We conservatives are morally opposed to ad hominem attacks and use them only as a last resort. The fact that these left-wing Moonbats (as we conservative bloggers endearingly refer to liberals) feel they have to resort to name calling just shows that they have no argument.

In response to Jacoby's article liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald jumped into the fray, claiming that Jacoby has "completely distorted" what "chicken hawk" means. He says that it is not merely aimed at those who advocate war without having served in the military but "is the belief that advocating a war from afar is a sign of personal courage and strength, and that opposing a war from afar is a sign of personal cowardice and weakness. A 'chicken hawk' is someone who not merely advocates a war, but believes that their advocacy is proof of the courage which those who will actually fight the war in combat require."

Greenwald has become something of a bête noire for conservative bloggers lately. Ever since he accused some conservative bloggers of hypocrisy for making death threats against Supreme Court Justices and New York Times editors, many of them have been on the warpath against Greenwald, undermining his credibility by attacking his résumé, pointing out that he is gay (not that there is anything wrong with that), revealing that he spends half the year in Brazil with his boyfriend who cannot spend more than six months in the U.S. (though he is perfectly free to marry a woman if he really wanted to stay here) and investigating whether he or someone from his household has allegedly been posting comments in other people's blogs under various names that are not their own, a practice known as "sock puppetry" (and something no conservative blogger would ever do). Hiding under more than one pseudonym, of course, is a despicable practice and the revelation that prominent blogger might have done this (though he denies it) has sent the right-wing blogosphere into a frenzy. Once Greenwald adopted the persona "Glenn Greenwald" he should have stuck to it as any expert in blogger etiquette will tell you.

Rick Moran of Right Wing Nuthouse, who delightfully calls Greenwald "Your Puppetress," which cleverly spoofs both Greenwald's sexual orientation and the accusations of sock puppetry in one fell swoop, has attacked Greenwald for defending the use of the unjustifiable ad hominem attack "chicken hawk," accusing him of trying to redefine the word to win the argument. Liberals are always trying to create new, broader definitions of words to win arguments. For example, liberals would have you believe that the word "torture" should include things like waterboarding and that we should follow the vague definition outlined in the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. signed, which defines torture as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person." The Justice Department tried to clear up all this ambiguity by defining torture more precisely by saying it "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." As Jeff Goldstein, whose blog Protein Wisdom was the Archduke Ferdinand of this latest blog war, points out in a balanced piece about how liberals want to kill your children, "controlling the narrative--first by bending it to fit your will, then by repeating it until it becomes provisional 'truth'--is at the heart of a progressive 'activism' that, let's face it, has failed to win people over using an unrigged marketplace of ideas." In other words, because liberals know they can't win arguments with ideas they have to resort to redefining words and making personal attacks.

However, the more I thought about the term "chicken hawk," the more I wondered if it really is an insult. Jacoby says that if in fact only people who serve in the military could advocate military force, then "US foreign policy would be more hawkish" because "soldiers tend to be politically conservative." Apparently, if we let the military decide when to use the military we would be at war all the time, which would wreak havoc on the economy. In fact, according to Jacoby, the American system of government is based on the idea that civilians have supremacy over the military. "Those who wear the uniform in wartime are entitled to their countrymen's esteem and lasting gratitude," he writes graciously. "But for well over two centuries, Americans have insisted that when it comes to security and defense policy, soldiers and veterans get no more of a say than anyone else."

Cliff May, writing in the National Review's blog The Corner, agrees that we should not be giving more weight to the opinions of military men. He says that in fact conservatives who advocate military action though they are not in the military are equally important as the soldiers themselves fighting in Iraq. "There is a war of arms. And there is a war of ideas," he writes. "They are not just inter-related, they are interdependent. They are equally consequential."

But I would take this one step further. I think that the fact that we pro-war bloggers are not in the military makes our voice even more important than the opinions of people in the military. Liberals who call people "chicken hawks" have got it backwards. I think that people who have never served in the military should be the only people allowed to advocate military action. While pro-war advocates who have never served in the military have the necessary detachment to objectively analyze the military situation without being distracted by emotion, people who have served in the military have lost all perspective. Look at people like Jack Murtha, who is "a rank coward" according to one conservative blogger and "a traitor," according to another, or John Kerry, whose reputation will never recover from the attacks of the brave Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Then there are all the generals who came out recently against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's leadership of the War in Iraq, who were accused by the right wing of insubordination after the fact. Clearly, these former military men have had their point of view distorted by their experiences in the military. On the other hand most of the men responsible for the success in Iraq, including Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush, Dick Cheney and the neo-cons on his staff have never served in combat. I think what many in the conservative blogosphere are saying to the military is that while we value your military service, you cannot really be trusted to make policy. So while I object to the use of ad hominem attacks like "chicken hawk" in principle, I wonder if it is really an attack at all.

There was a time when I felt guilty about the fact that I have been unable to serve in the military because of my inconveniently located boil, which as I have said before is a malady that I am proud to say Rush Limbaugh shares and is the reason he didn't serve in Vietnam. I realize now that it is the very fact that I have not served in the military that gives such enormous weight to my urging other people to fight in places like Iraq. Unlike Mr. Jacoby I am not angered by liberals referring to me as a chicken hawk. In fact, I am proud to be a chicken hawk.

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MistahCharley said...

You may not be aware of the more derogatory slang meaning of "chickenhawk", also used to refer to someone who is sexually interested in persons who are too young to be appropriate partners. For this reason, I would prefer a different term be used for the advocates of the muscular use of our nation's military strength overseas to achieve our strategic objectives.

Disenchanted Dave said...

Since your status as a civilian leader of the military will force you to make important decisions regarding military intelligence, I hope you find this memo outlining the best way to get intelligence from terrorists useful.

outofcontext said...

You are damn right about civilian authority, both political and moral, when it comes to the military. In fact, I think a lot of the blame for the few things that have gone astray in Iraq may be due to our President's military background. Those hours serving in the Air National Guard have skewed his thinking just enough to insist on "letting the commanders on the ground" dictate our strategy. I hate when he says that. Just imagine how screwed up this war would be if he had seen actual combat, or that if that ketchup guy had won in '04. Our military leaders should concentrate more on what they're good at, like picking out new uniforms and making sure the lobster tails at the officer's mess are the right size. Leave the strategy to the cool heads of civilian leaders, like Dick Cheney. With distance comes perspective and we've got "big time" perspective in office now. Same goes for the mainstream media. Did you know that NBC has a "mid-east" bureau chief who is actually stationed in the middle east all the time? How's he going to be able to see the forest for the trees. Of course, your going to get a bad impression of a situation when a missile whizzes by your ear. Fox News has no overseas bureaus (I think the Aruba one was temporary), that's why they have perspective. I'd rather have these things explained to me by Rush, a man who has had time to think in depth and from a thoughtful distance, while lying, face up, on a Dominican beach.

S. Puppet said...

Boy, that Out Of Context guy sure knows what the hell he's talking about. Smart fellow.

maha said...

On the other hand most of the men responsible for the success in Iraq, including Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush, Dick Cheney and the neo-cons on his staff have never served in combat.

This is either brilliantly dry humor or you are the dumbest f***er in the blogosphere.

RobW said...

Well, c'mon, Maha, don't leave us in suspense. Which is it?

Blogenfreude said...

Jon, I think they'll take you with the boil now - up to 42, even if you're a skinhead. Which you're obviously not from the drawing. just sayin'

BenMerc said...

"Lookit here son, I say son, did ya see that hawk after those hens? He scared 'em! That Rhode Island Red turned white. Then blue. Rhode Island. Red, white, and blue. That's a joke, son. A flag waver."

The indeterminate ramblings of Foghorn Leghorn...Never the less a vein of relevance may be parsed, with a bit of imagination a variable mother lode.

Jae said...

If what you say is true, then I am most deserving to create military decisions having never even registered for selective services! I am on the fast track to the top and I'm dressed for success in my camouflage suit!

Richard Fye said...

Whaaaat? A spin such as I've never heard. Boils beget brilliance? - my ass. Unashamedly ridiculous!

Arlo said...

Here is a perfect example of the pro-rad right caveman mentality refusing to acknowledge it's own weaknesses in order to project a stronger image. Excuse me, not just refusing to acknowledge but exhibiting, proudly, it's lack of knowledge. And I know I was right impressed!

Ummm .... keep up the good work. This will only make you "stronger."

Side-step, counter-"attack", backslap, and highfive your brother-in-law, Jethro. =0)

Giordano said...

I'm a left who marched against the Vietnam war. I dont criticise anyone who avoided going over there, even if they used a bumboil rather than a conscie. Not going was the morally correct thing to do INHO.

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