Chicken Hawk Meme, Take MMXVIII

In contrast to his fair minded critique of pro-war pundits for Pat Buchanan’s American Conservative (proving, if more evidence was needed, that politics do indeed make strange bedfellows) Glenn Greenwald today argues that Iraq war supporters who fail to sign up to support the proposed “surge” of forces are cowards:

A “coward” is someone who (a) fails to fight (b) in a war they consider to be necessary and just (c) notwithstanding their country’s need for more fighters and (d) in the absence of a unique and compelling excuse for doing so.

This chicken hawk nonsense continues to circulate among even the thoughtful critics of the war despite its obvious illogic having been pointed out dozens, perhaps hundreds of times over the past few years. It’s exasperating.

Our society, as with all modern societies, operates on division of labor along lines of specialization. Some people are constitutional lawyers, some are soldiers, while others are surgeons, firefighters, policemen, file clerks, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. One can simultaneously and without hypocrisy want fires put out without becoming a firefighter, want streets free of crime without being a cop, and enjoy eating steaks for dinner without becoming a butcher.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Carl says:

    Since Mr. Greenwald uses a personal definition that is not supported by any legitimate dictionary, his point is rendered moot. End of story.

  2. Anderson says:

    The “chicken hawk” bit is quite creaky as a serious argument, but it does make for good cartoons.

    More serious would be to ask war supporters whether they favor a draft.

  3. John Burgess says:

    Of course the bloviating rooster who gave Chickenhawk such a hard time in those cartoons might want to check the mirror first.

    Is there any evidence that Greenwald ever got off his ass to do anything more productive than push a pencil or keyboard? On any issue in life?

  4. RJN says:

    Your analogies are beyond bad James. Aside from my objection to the nice little class system you outlined in the last paragraph, I object to your implying that soldiers knew, when they signed up, that their political leaders would doom them to endless useless brutality and death.

  5. Anderson says:

    Is there any evidence that Greenwald ever got off his ass to do anything more productive than push a pencil or keyboard?

    As opposed to … President Bush, say?

  6. James Joyner says:

    RJN: You’re saying that people who volunteered for the military in the last five years plus didn’t know we were at war?

  7. anjin-san says:

    Yes we want fires to be put out. The problem with your analogy is that this is a fire that Bush started for no good reason while you cheered from the sidelines…

  8. Steven Plunk says:

    I see many here are still arguing over old topics rather than moving on to the issues at hand. President Bush secured the support of Congress before going to war (coupled with many UN resolutions) and he served in the military in his youth. Why would someone infer he has done nothing?

    The chicken hawk argument has been shown false in many ways many times. Why would anyone bring it up again? It exposes the childish petulance of many war critics. Those critics are best ignored since they are contributing nothing of value to the discussion while insulting many.

  9. srv says:

    Our society, as with all modern societies, operates on division of labor along lines of specialization.

    If your neighborhood were faced with an oncoming wildfire, would you shout for more fireman or do something to help?

    If your neighborhood were faced with wanton violence and gang warfare, would you shout for more police or do something to help?

    But if your nation is facing an “existential” threat from islamofacism, it’s just peachy to whine more troops (after saying there were plenty for 3 years) and just sit there?

    Whine all you want, the obvious illogic is yours.

  10. Sock Puppet says:

    Is there any evidence that Greenwald ever got off his ass to do anything more productive than push a pencil or keyboard? On any issue in life?

    The same amount of evidence that there is for you.

  11. someone says:

    And yet, if you suggest to them a Starship Troopers government they call you a facist.

  12. Steve Verdon says:

    More serious would be to ask war supporters whether they favor a draft.

    Uhhh…why? We currently have an all volunteer force. One reason to use the draft is to do it on the cheap…that is to get soldiers for less than it would cost to pay them to go voluntarily. If you support, you are in effect advocating the left of labor. Either that or all this nonsense about the draft is just a political ploy. Do you support the draft Anderson, and if so, which reason do you use?

  13. Blue Shark says:

    …As always what you fail to mention is that all the vocal supporters of this illegal and immoral war have no “flesh in the game”.

    …The chicken hawk label would disappear rapidly if say 30 prominent war supporters were to announce that they have personally persuaded …oh say 100 cousins, nephews, nieces, sons and daughters to volunteer to help “Freedom on the March”.

    …Until then …spare us the slogan-as-policy indignation.

  14. just me says:

    I oppose a draft, because at the very least everyone who is serving volunteered for the job.

    And to be honest anyone who has enlisted in the military since about 1990 would have to be a complete blathering idiot to think that they wouldn’t have to go anywhere dangerous or do anything dangerous, since our country has been at some kind of war or peacekeeping mission since then. None quite on the same scale that Iraq and Afghanistan are, but I have several friends whose husbands were called up to serve in Kosovo, and my brother in law spent 18 months in Bosnia (he was originally there on a 12 month tour, but they extended his units stay another six months).

    Would it be just grand if the children of the super wealthy were drafted? Sure, but I wonder if a draft lottery would recruit a higher percentage than the current volunteer force does, given the fact that the majority of draft eligible men would be from that middle quadrant, and the chances of getting called up in greater numbers for the wealthy seems doesn’t seem as plausible as the liberals would argue (I am not a statistician, these are just generalizations based on what we know about who serves).

    I object to your implying that soldiers knew, when they signed up, that their political leaders would doom them to endless useless brutality and death.

    This is just dumb, especially for post 9/11 volunteers. Nobody enlists thinking they are going to get to hang out at Ft. Hood and play soldier for 4-6 years. Every person who signs up to be in the service is aware of the fact that the CIC could call them to serve and risk their lives in a war.

  15. RJN says:

    James and just me:

    Colin Powell has just said our Army is “about broken”; maybe he knows something. Enlistees of 5 and 10 years ago are reevaluating their choices.

    “Maybe it is time to get out, if I can,” they say to themselves.

    “We did not sign up for perpetual useless war.” They say.

    “What must those politicians think of us when they break, and enfeeble our Army?” They ask.

    “I know many of these Beltway types consider us enlistees lower class and expendable, but I don’t feel expendable; maybe I will do everything I can to get out.” “Screw these assholes.”

  16. jw says:

    u dont get it; a, a draft would insure the end of the war, because most americans would not think this conflict has enough chance of victory, or success, to justify losing a member of their family; next, the wingnuts are not arguing that we should stay in this war, because it is like other jobs, they are saying that losing here is intolerable, unthinkable, and cannot, under any circumstances, be accepted; if one believes that, and uses that to justify continuing this , then one has to follow through with personal actions (ie, enlist and help); if u dont, then it is probable that u dont really believe the argument that is keeping us in there

  17. Dr X says:

    The funny thing about Neocons and free market capitalists who support the war is that they seem to have forgotten how markets work.

    Although I don’t favor reinstatement of the draft, without forced military conscription and without a tax policy that more realistically transmits information about the cost of war to taxpayers, support for the war comes relatively cheap. It is so cheap, in fact, that Americans still want more war than the military is able to supply.

    There Is No Free Lunch And There Is No Free Surge

  18. John says:

    Our society, as with all modern societies, operates on division of labor along lines of specialization. Some people are constitutional lawyers, some are soldiers, while others are surgeons, firefighters, policemen, file clerks, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. One can simultaneously and without hypocrisy want fires put out without becoming a firefighter, want streets free of crime without being a cop, and enjoy eating steaks for dinner without becoming a butcher.

    And in dire national emergencies where the very life of the Republic is at stake, all of the above become soldiers. GM shuts down its Impala production and starts cranking out Humvees with armor plating.

    Thank you for agreeing that the Iraq war does not constitute a dire national emergency, and that losing that war would not threaten the very life of the Republic.

  19. LJD says:

    …doom them to endless useless brutality and death…

    Some of them STILL don’t know this. They must be brainwashed!

  20. Anderson says:

    Do you support the draft Anderson, and if so, which reason do you use?

    No, I don’t, because I don’t think we should be in Iraq.

    Anyone who *does* think we should be there, and that Iraq is really crucial to our national security, would have a hard time arguing against a draft. The volunteer thang isn’t cutting it, obviously, though maybe if we paid privates at contractor-salary levels, that would change.

    (I have my doubts about the constitutionality of the draft, but those are moonshine.)

  21. Rick DeMent says:

    I would be happy if war supporters would simply support coughing up the cash to pay for the damn thing. If they don’t want to at least pay for it then they can be called chicken hawks (or chicken bankers … whatever)all day with no qualifiers.

  22. Terp Mole says:

    Ace of Spades fisks chicken-hawk meme;

    If “reasonable lefties” like Greenwald claim to support the War in Afghanistan, which they also claim is going to hell in a handbasket, why on earth do they not feel compelled to enlist in order to fight in that war, a war which they (supposedly) support?

    Chickenhawk? You mean supporting a war you’re not offering to actually fight in?

    Get thee to Afghanistan, boys.

    Or do you have “other priorities” that prevent you from risking your soft white asses to support wars you claim to wish to win?

    Letting poor, uneducated black kids and no-account rural whites fight in your place while you conduct CyOps in the 69th Chairborne Rangers/101st Fightin’ Keyboardist brigade?

    Tut, tut…

    Read the whole thing.