Ron Paul’s Phony “Chickenhawk” Attack On Newt Gingrich

Last night, Ron Paul decided it was a good idea to bring back the ghosts of the Vietnam War era.

One of the odder and more emotional exchanges from Saturday night’s debate had its roots in a statement that Ron Paul made on Wednesday in which he criticized Newt Gingrich for seeking deferments from the Vietnam War era draft as a student and, later, a father:

(CNN) – Rep. Ron Paul said Wednesday that rival Newt Gingrich was a “chickenhawk” for voting to send American troops into war while never having served in the military himself.

Paul was responding to a question from CNN’s Soledad O’Brien on the program “Starting Point” about Gingrich’s assertion that the Texas congressman would be a “dangerous” candidate.

“You know, when Newt Gingrich was called to serve us in the 1960s during the Vietnam era, guess what he thought about danger? He chickened out on that and got deferments and didn’t even go,” Paul said. “Right now he sends the young kids over there and the young people come back and the ones in the military right now, they overwhelmingly support my campaign.”

Paul pointed to the number of veterans who are supporting his bid for the GOP nomination, citing their endorsement for his platform of limited American involvement overseas

“We get twice as much support from the active military personnel than all the other candidates put together,” Paul said. “So Newt Gingrich has no business talking about danger because he is putting other people in danger. Some people call that kind of a program a ‘chickenhawk’ and I think he falls into that category.”

Paul has previously criticized the former House speaker for deferments he received during the Vietman era. Paul himself served as a surgeon in the U.S. Air Force after attending medical school.

This all came to a head last night when the two men were on stage together:

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul engaged in a very personal exchange in Saturday night’s debate in which Paul criticized the former House speaker for not serving in the military.

Paul has repeatedly criticized Gingrich for taking a deferment during the Vietnam War, calling him a “chickenhawk” for having no problem sending young men to war despite his lack of serviGingrich noted that he comes from a military family — an “Army brat” — and said he wasn’t eligible for the draft because he was married with a child. And then appeared to get a little choked up recalling his father’s service.

“I think I have a pretty good idea of what it’s like as a family to worry about your father getting killed,” Gingrich said. “And I personally resent the kind of comments and aspersions he routinely makes without accurate information and then just slurs people with.”

Despite Gingrich’s emotion, Paul didn’t back down.

“When I was drafted, I was married and had two kids,” Paul said. “And I went.”ce.Here And Gingrich took exception to it during the debate.

The words don’t really communicate the emotion that came out in this exchange, so here’s the video:

It’s fair to say that I’m no fan of Newt Gingrich’s for many reasons. When it comes to foreign policy specifically, I’m probably closer to Ron Paul than the former Speaker in many respects, not the least of them being the wisdom of continued American involvement in Afghanistan and the proper way to respond to Iran (although I disagree with Paul’s assertion that Iran’s nuclear program is nothing to worry about). In fact, there’s not very much I like about the former Speaker of the House, and I’ve noted many times his hypocrisy on issues related to fiscal conservatism compared to his actions in the years since he left the House of Representatives.

Despite that, I’ve got to say that I find Paul’s argument here disappointing and just a little bit appalling. Whether he intended it or not, Paul’s argument involves nothing less than picking at the scab of a very old wound in American politics, one that many had thought we had left behind after the 2004 Presidential Campaign at the very latest. I’m referring, of course, to the Vietnam War and the divide that seemed to be part of American politics from the time the last helicopter left Saigon between those who had served and those who had utilized a variety of deferments to avoid the draft. In Gingrich’s case, it was student deferments and the deferment granted to men with children. Mitt Romney also utilized student deferments, as well as a deferment granted to ministers during the time he was serving as a Mormon Missionary in France. For what seemed liked decades, the question of what a candidate did or did not do during the Vietnam War would always come up and candidates like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush would find themselves being criticized for not subjecting themselves to the draft.

Paul supporters tell me that this is a legitimate attack on Gingrich because of his current foreign policy positions, which are undeniably militaristic. I’ve got to wonder, though, what relevance the actions of Newton Leroy Gingrich the 18-25 year old have on the fitness for the Presidency of Newt Gingrich the 68 year-old who happens to be running for President. Are we really going to dredge up 40-odd year old political debates in a race for the Presidency in the 21st Century? And, haven’t we reached the point where what people did during the Vietnam War should be put to rest once and for all? After all, most of the people affected by the argument are in their 60s at this point at least and the only reason it even comes up now is because we happen to have two men who were draft eligible running for President. Hasn’t the statute of limitations on the question “what did you do during the war” expired at this point? I would suggest that it has, and that Paul (who served as an Air Force Flight surgeon after being drafted in the years before Vietnam) bringing it up again was unnecessary and just a little low-class.

The Paul-Gingrich exchange also brings up another issue now that we live in the era of an all-volunteer force. Does the fact that someone has not served in the military mean that their arguments in favor of a more aggressive foreign policy stance somehow less relevant or less legitimate? While I understand the hypocrisy argument that Paul and his supporters make in this context, the only acceptable answer strikes me as being no. Whether or not someone served in the military does not make their opinions on foreign policy more or less legitimate. A veteran who advocates non-interventionism has as much right to his a opinion as does a non-veteran who advocates increased U.S. military involvement in the world. Whether the policy is wise or not depends not on the resume of the person advocating it, but on whether its objectively a good idea or not. Paul’s argument boils down to saying that only people who have served have the right to made the decision on whether or nor people should go to war, and that’s just nonsense.I’m not sure why he has gone down this route with respect to Gingrich (although interestingly, not Romney) but it’s little more than ad hominem nonsense

There’s one final part of Paul’s argument that’s puzzling. As a libertarian, one would think he would oppose the draft and support any persons lawful attempt to avoid it. After all, it was a libertarian economist, Milton Friedman, who played a pivotal role in convincing President Nixon to support ending the draft (the politics of the situation helped Nixon make that decision too, obviously). Wouldn’t someone who supports individual liberty and autonomy also support a person’s right to prevent themselves from being subjected to the whim of the state in this matter? Or is Paul just cynically using this issue for political advantage? Based on the available evidence, I think it’s the second.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    I agree that we cannot start excluding from politics anyone who didn’t fight in a war. This is not Sparta.

    On the other hand,

    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

    I was abed in England, so to speak, while other men fought in Vietnam, sat in freezing tanks at the Fulda Gap and walked the perimeter at the DMZ. I don’t know that I hold my manhood cheap, but those men did what I did not, and it does mean something to me that Ron Paul did and Newt Gingrich did not. It’s data worth considering.

    And the enthusiasm for war of men who never fought is always going to be a bit suspicious.

  2. Console says:

    If you ran from responsibility then you will be called out on it. Especially in the context of a conservative campaign. Being conservative in america pretty much involves pretending privilege doesn’t exist, and even if it does, pretending that privilege certainly never helped you become the man you are. Which is how you get Romney trying to cry about how hard he had it in Paris, meanwhile many of his contemporaries were being maimed and killed in a jungle.

    The chickenhawk argument plays into tearing down false illusions of equality. It appeals to the “the rich and poor are both not allowed to sleep under bridges” liberal outrage, and I’d imagine the anti social hierarchy tone of the argument plays to libertarians.

  3. ponce says:

    Paul’s argument involves nothing less than picking at the scab of a very old wound in American politics, one that many had thought we had left behind after the 2004 Presidential Campaign at the very latest.

    Says the wingnut who started foaming at the mouth at the sight of the damn dirty hippies of the Occupy movement and their drum circles.

  4. Herb says:

    And, haven’t we reached the point where what people did during the Vietnam War should be put to rest once and for all?

    At 76, Ron Paul may be the last one we need to worry about….

    But was Ron Paul even in Vietnam? I know he was an Air Force surgeon in the “Vietnam era,” but a Vietnam vet?

  5. Herb,

    Ron Paul’s years of service as a flight surgeon in the Air Force were from 1963-1965 and then served in the same position with the Air National Guard (Texas, I presume) from 1965-68 so he was mostly outside the Vietnam Era and served stateside. (Got that from Wikipedia it’s not like I memorize this stuff)

  6. Ben Wolf says:

    I just don’t see why this isn’t a legitimate avenue of criticism. It’s hard to miss that so many politcians who have avoided military service have such a crush on the military and using it against other countries. I’d pummel Gingrich for being a big fat Tough Guy who hides behind the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans too.

  7. anjin-san says:

    It’s hard to miss that so many politcians who have avoided military service have such a crush on the military and using it against other countries

    Bingo. Sorry, the chickenhawk issue is very much alive. It is very easy to see why the right wishes it otherwise…

  8. mattb says:

    @doug,

    It’s also fair to say that this fits into a larger pattern of Republican/Conservative loud-mouths who got Vietnam deferments but still talk about how we “should have won that war” and are among the first to call for military strikes. How is this different that Rush avoiding Vietnam due to anal cysts?

    Honestly, after GHWB do we have any high profile politicians with any degree of Military Experience that isn’t in the Guard (during a period where the Guard was not deployed)?

    I’m sorry but I do think that combat experience does matter when making a decision to send troops into harms way. I’m not advocating for a Starship Trooper’s mode of citizenship or political credentials. But it is fair to call people out on this.

    BTW, I don’t expect that this is going away any time soon. I expect that we’ll be having similiar discussions in 20 years thanks to the War on Terror.

  9. Ernieyeball says:

    The draft was the antithesis of democracy. The federal government could shanghai your young arse and send you off to kill or be killed at 18 AND YOU COULDN’T VOTE THE B*ST*RDS OUT OF OFFICE UNTIL YOU WERE 21!
    Many draft age men did what they could to beat the system as long as they could. We all made our choices. Some went to jail and when they got out they were still eligible to be drafted.
    17,725 draftees CAME HOME IN BODY BAGS!
    There was nothing good about the draft.

    When it comes to Gingrich, Perle, Lott and George Will et al I defer to the late Korean War Veteran and excellent journalist Mike Royko.

    Republican Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, who can really talk tough, especially when he is flailing liberals, most of whom he considers to have less spine than a night crawler. But during the Vietnam War, when Gingrich was of prime draft age, he found himself in college.

    When he was asked why, because he favored the Vietnam War, he didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to go shoot some commies, he said:

    ”What difference would I have made? There was a bigger battle in Congress than in Vietnam.”

    Oh, I don’t know about that. The body count in Congress never amounted to much.

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1985-06-20/news/0310060097_1_vietnam-war-wimps-star-wars
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1988-05-30/news/8801030177_1_vietnam-war-war-wimp-war-wimps

  10. Gustopher says:

    Because Newt and Romney used student deferments, two other young men who weren’t wealthy enough to afford college were drafted in their place.

    That’s the plain truth of the matter.

    I would have done the same thing in their shoes, but I’m also a coward. (And I think the Vietnam war was a mistake, and wouldn’t have wanted to risk death for it, and was only born in 1970, so it’s all just conjecture on my part anyway)

    And Newt is so eager to send the troops into Iran, or anywhere else. I think if he had the experience of being in combat, he wouldn’t be so eager to send others.

  11. Tano says:

    Paul’s argument boils down to saying that only people who have served have the right to made the decision on whether or nor people should go to war,

    I don’t think so. Rather it boils down to saying that if you are going to take an overtly militaristic stance toward dealing with the foreign policy challenges that we face, and you evaded service yourself when the country was at war, then you will be expected to explain yourself. How do you reconcile your aversion to military service for yourself but your enthusiasm for it when others must go into harm’s way.

    How that question is answered (and there are many possible answers that could be persuasive) would be an informative piece of evidence that voters can use to assess the character of the candidate.

  12. It’s not that chickenhawks advocate more agressive foreign policy, it’s that they GLEEFULLY advocate it. The casualties that would result from a war with Iran should be a disturbing prospect, even if you think it is inevitable and necessary. But Gingrich doesn’t seem to be disturbed; he seems excited.

    That’s the result of being a man who’s view of war is based on too many action movies and video games, and not enough real world perspective. Now there are many ways beyond serving to get that perspective, but Gingrich seems to have cheerfully avoided them all.

  13. DRS says:

    Have we forgotten the McCain campaign of 2008 where the ads trumpeted his service and his torture at the hands of the enemy? “Country First” and all that? You really got the impression that we almost owed it to McCain to elect him president to make up for all he’d had to undergo for the nation.

    And that was after 8 years of Richard “I had other priorities” Cheney and his 6 (or was it 8?) deferments when he was eligible to be sent over.

    I don’t care whether or not Gingrich was an Army Brat. If he wants to pin his father’s medals to his own chest then he can go ahead – but I don’t have to be impressed by it. The biggest thing Gingrich ever shot off was his mouth.

    And I would argue that in fact Americans have not dealt with Vietnam. We’ve successfully ducked the issue just as we’ve ducked most of the controversial issues of our times. We fall back on the old “you can’t criticize the troops!” and don’t go any further.

  14. Rob says:

    I think it is a fair statement to make. Why call for war if you yourself are not willing to go and fight it?

  15. steve says:

    The chickenhawk argument extends beyond Vietnam. It has also been an issue with our recent wars. One sees that a lot of those who most forcefully advocated for war, avoided it themselves. You also see, most notably in the case of Romney, that his sons do the same. When some one is willing to send other people’s kids to war, when he avoided going himself, I think that says a lot about a person’s character. TBF, it does not nullify that person’s ideas. Chickenhawk or not, one’s policy ideas may still be sound and should be judged on their own merits. Therefore, I generally ignore the chickenhawk argument when it comes to policy discussions. If character matters to a voter, it should be a factor in their decision.

    Steve

  16. anjin-san says:

    Did I hear Newt correctly? He said he exempt from the draft because he was married and had a child? How does that work?

  17. Fiona says:

    And the enthusiasm for war of men who never fought is always going to be a bit suspicious.

    This is especially true in the case of someone like Gingrich, who, as another commenter pointed out above, seems downright giddy about the thought of sending troops off to the Middle East and other places. It was also galling to see him try to weasel out of his failure to serve with his “but I was an Army brat” argument. So what? When it was his turn to serve in a war he supported, he did everything he could to get out of going.

    I think Paul got the better of Newt in that exchange. I doubt Paul supports the draft but, when called on by his country to serve, he served. Newt didn’t.

  18. Rick Almeida says:

    The Paul-Gingrich exchange also brings up another issue now that we live in the era of an all-volunteer force. Does the fact that someone has not served in the military mean that their arguments in favor of a more aggressive foreign policy stance somehow less relevant or less legimate?

    To me, the answer is yes, in the “less legitimate” sense.

    I’ve been thinking about this often since I started my faculty career in 2002. I was honorably discharged from the Army Reserve in 2000, and after 2002 I lost track of how many times I was called a “traitor” for opposing the Iraq war by fat, 19 year old suburbanite kids who’d never accomplished anything beyond stumbling through high school.

    I remember very well a late-night conversation with an older acquaintance I’d become very fond of. We’d both had a few drinks and were quietly mulling over the state of the world, particularly the Middle East, and he leaned in toward me and said softly, “You know, Rick, I’m afraid we’re just going to have to go over there and kill a whole lot of those people.”

    To which I responded, “Who’s we? It’s not you, you’re close to retirement and didn’t serve in your generation’s war. It’s not your child, who was fortunate to receive a high-quality Catholic education, graduate from college, and start a family in a time of peace and prosperity. It’s nobody like you.

    The idea of moral credibility is increasingly important to me. I believe that a message or a policy position has some force or validity in its own right, but so does the messenger.

    If someone appears to be cavalier about, say, the human costs of military intervention while never having spent a day in uniform, I think less of him. If someone rails against “class warfare” while reaping the benefits of inherited privilege, I want to reach for my torch and pitchfork.

  19. SimpleAndEasy says:

    Paul used Gingrich’s logic on Gingrich himself to unveil Gingrich’s hypocrisy and I think he did it pretty well.

  20. @SimpleAndEasy:

    A pointer. You don’t need to boldface all your responses.

  21. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    I don’t know that I hold my manhood cheap, but those men did what I did not, and it does mean something to me that Ron Paul did and Newt Gingrich did not. It’s data worth considering.

    It’s probably not my place but – at which point did “flight surgeon” start to make one a combat veteran entitled to criticize non-serving colleagues?

    If Paul had been a grunt, perhaps (though it would still be questionable due to the reasons above). But as far as I know the biggest danger a flight surgeon faces is accompanying extraction flights. Not exactly a basis on which to attack others for cowardice. Seems to be a pretty cozy place to spend your Vietnam draft.

  22. Chris says:

    @DRS: There was a very telling article in “The Rolling Stone” that year called “Make-Believe Maverick” concerning McCain. Everybody should have read that. You can look it up. Its still online. It charged that everything he said about his military career had some spin on it so it wouldn’t seem as bad as it was. For instance, when one of his buddies was getting ready to re-deploy to the middle East, he asked McCain where he was going. (I think it was) “Rio De Janeiro” came the answer. “Whats in Rio”? Lots of loose women apparently. 🙂 Even though the “maverick” was married with a kid at the time. It charged that he also received preferential treatment because he was an admiral’s son.

  23. erschiessen says:

    Newt flat out LIED on Saturday night.
    He started off saying he never sought a deferment.
    Then he slandered Ron Paul by saying Dr. Paul has a history of saying things that are not true.
    Then he deflected, insinuating that since his step-father was ARMY, somehow that transfers to Newt.
    Ron Paul crushed him with his retort:
    “When I was drafted I was married, and had two kids, AND I WENT”
    He could have pulled a Newt and ducked serving his country when called, since he was Married w/ Children. He didn’t. He volunteered to enter the Air Force.
    Then Newton shrieked “I wasn’t eligible, I wasn’t eligible” muted by the applause of the audience.
    http://www.nndb.com/event/806/000140386/
    Says there that he received a deferment.
    I didn’t think one could receive a deferment if one didn’t apply for it.
    I didn’t think that there would be a requirement for a deferment, if one wasn’t eligible for the draft.

    No.
    Newt has proven himself to not only be a liar, but a dispicable phony.

    He wouldn’t leave his wife and child to fight in Viet Nam (or serve in another capacity)

    He sure would leave them both for a younger, presumably prettier girl, though.

    Chasin’ Tail was more important to Newton.

    But now he wants to send the grandchildren of the folks that answered the call, when he didn’t think he could make much of a difference.

    “Serial Hypocracy”

  24. steve says:

    “If Paul had been a grunt, perhaps”

    Once you are in, you dont really get to decide where you serve. There have been flight surgeons in Iraq. I think the idea is being willing to serve your country during a war and putting yourself at risk.

    Steve

  25. Chris says:

    @Rick Almeida: your comment hit close to home. I have a friend I almost came to blows with a few nights ago because he believes we should go into Iran and start another war to “play it safe” while I believe we need to get out of other people’s business. Before all of this, I tried to show him pictures of what had happened with all of the thousands of youngsters who had become deformed after Chernobyl. He said: “Don’t show me that. I can’t look at that!” And he couldn’t look at it. Well, I did. And I look at the deformities of the kids being born in Iraq now after “somebody” dropped chemicals and depleted uranium warheads in their backyards. T “Chernobyl-syndrome” all over again. (It is going to happen in Fukushima, big time). And it will happen in Iran if we go in there, as well. These people who can’t stand to look at the suffering we cause want to start more wars. If they could only actually see the suffering it causes, they would be totally against it. Don’t they understand that these kids could just as well be their kids? It is disgusting to me how much most of these politicians want war. I can’t understand their mentality… makes me want to get out a pitchfork too! 🙂

  26. DRS says:

    Hi Chris. Yes, I’m pretty sure I read that article. There were a few that examined McCain’s career in some degree of depth and one I remember in particular that described how during his Senate campaigns he would claim that he wasn’t trading on his war years to get elected but that in fact much of the PR was devoted to – drum roll – his war years.

    As for the admiral’s son thing, the impression I got was that he was as consumed with daddy issues as GWB and it was his pedigree that didn’t get him booted out after he lost five planes. Someone who didn’t like McCain much said that the biggest difference between GWB and McCain wasn’t that Bush didn’t go overseas but that he was the better pilot.

  27. Jason says:

    Newt Gingrich is a ChickenHawk! He is a flip-flopper. He profited off the American people. He is no conservative. He is a fake. He deserves what he gets. If he wants to get respect, tell him to run as a democrat.

  28. Ryan says:

    So questioning Newt’s military record is off the table because it’s old news but questioning Paul’s publishing record is vitally important for judging his candidacy?

  29. Mike says:

    Well what if all those serving in the military had the same approach as the 18-25 year old Newt? Do you think troops want to serve under a person who preaches to Americans the necessity of war, but avoided serving themselves? Would you want Newt as your commanding officer in a combat zone? Why not? There is wisdom gained by people who served, and Newt as bypassed that experience for his own reasons. I don’t think it’s wrong to not wan to participate in war, but for him to turn around and tell other young men, who also have families and children, that they are to put their life on the line? Give me a break. Ron Paul is only pointing out the absolute hypocrisy in that.

  30. Gustopher says:

    Another definition of a chickenhawk is an older man who chases after much younger sexual partners. I’ve mostly heard it applied to gay men, but if is also used for straight men, it would certainly fit Newt’s strategy of trading wives in for a younger one.

    Not what Paul meant, of course, but it amuses me anyway.

  31. Daniel says:

    well newt started it in that show. He says his father, where As paul says Himself, which is more reputable/reliable? The one who said on behalf of that one or the one that Sees it himself and says it? Ron Paul for 2012!

  32. Ron Beasley says:

    After four college deferments I graduated in June of 68. By November of 68 I was in basic training. Believe me I spent four months trying to find a way out. Newt was successful I was not so I can’t really be critical.

  33. I don’t care to slog through all the preceding comments, so I apologize if I’m late to the party on this. The interesting angle I saw on this was that deferred military service from 40 years ago is fair game for picking on Gingrich, but Paul bristles at the mention of 20 year old newsletters.

  34. steve says:

    “t Paul bristles at the mention of 20 year old newsletters.”

    🙂 We were looking at the college term papers of the wives of some candidates if you care to think back to the last election.

    Steve

  35. Ernieyeball says:

    @steve: I met a guy my age after the Vietnam War ended.
    He told me he ended up in the Army because he was given a choice by a judge…jail or the Army.
    I know there were more guys who enlisted on those terms but whose to say how many were killed in action. My friend ended up in the military choir in Korea and never saw any action.

    I recently heard Jesse Ventura on the radio after Osama Bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals.
    Jesse, a former UDT (before the Seals) said “not everyone can be a Navy Seal. Not everyone is cut out for it. Everyone in the military is doing their service, even if you’re in the band.”

  36. James R. Fegan says:

    This was a good thread with a variety of opinions. There is a fascination with the war dead. How about the odds of living? A lot served and lived to tell the tale of patriotism even as REMF’s. The odds were always good unless you volunteered to high casualty rates.
    Chickenhawks go through tortured logic to justify cowardice, in the face of certain but rather low odds of injury or death, then get all misty eyed about patriotism. I remember their smug rebuke and open hostility coming home from VN with serious injuries in 1969.

    When these feckless old men with their tortured logic start sabre rattling, they have my contempt. A little verbal dust up a podium is a lot less lethal than joining up. Good for Senator Paul. But nothing approaches the nastiness of having one’s shot at combat record ripped up by the combat innocents in a political contest: John Kerry and John McCain.

    There was always the Peace Corps if you couldn’t stomach the war corps.
    You don’t see much of that either. Attitude is not commitment. Live with it.

  37. Ernieyeball says:

    I always said that Bush II should have a third term. As long as he and Cheney spent the time living in FEMA trailers in Iraq near the front lines supervising the American troop withdrawl…
    I guess they would be home by now.

  38. RP for POTUS says:

    @Ebenezer Arvigenius: All these people that say Paul was only a flight surgeon and therefore not really in harms way are missing the point. Firstly, it’s an insult to serving flight surgeons, as if they don’t count. Secondly, once you’re in the military you DON’T usually choose where you will be stationed. Thirdly, Paul point is that Gingrinch is a person willing to send your kids to war because that is what he advocates, however he was too chicken to serve when it was his time to serve, contrary to Paul, who does NOT advocate war, however he at least had the balls to show up for service even though he does NOT support the draft. Educate yourselves. I truly believe Ron Paul is America’s last chance!!!!!

  39. Matt says:

    Chickenhawk is a legitimate, though often misused and misinterpreted charge. As others have pointed out, it’s not this:

    Paul’s argument boils down to saying that only people who have served have the right to made the decision on whether or nor people should go to war

    Being a chickenhawk is the very specific combination of avoidance of service (not simply not having served), combined with a particular enthusiasm for war.

    The confusion is understandable though, since the left basically ruined the term by applying it to pretty much everyone who supported the Iraq war who hadn’t served in the military.

  40. There is the wide perception outside the United States that since there was no real war in the Domestic United States since the Civil War, most Americans simply don´t know what “war” means. I always thought on that when I see “conservatives” talking about Chamberlain or about the way that the French “surrendered” to the Nazis.

    If these people KNEW what war really is they would never think that´s easy. That simple as it is.

  41. Rob in CT says:

    Paul is dead-on balls accurate here.

    Matt: indeed. Chickenhawk is really the toxic stew of avoiding war but advocating for it at every opportunity. Being a warmongering politician after having dodged/deferred your way out of Vietnam. Sadly, this describes much of our political class.

    I recall getting into a heated argument with a guy I know who was (and is) all about ME wars & killing Arabs (his words, as I recall, were “well, they want to kill me!”). I demanded to know when he was going to fight. Ah, but he’d already served in the military, so he was able to deflect that easily. He’s not a chickenhawk. He’s got some pretty screwed up political views, but he’s not a chickenhawk. 😉

  42. DRS says:

    It would be interesting to see if our views of war would change if, as Andre says, war was something that people experienced right here at home as opposed to on the other side of the road. I suspect there would be a lot of panicky insistence that somehow this was unfair and the other side (whoever that might be) was being dishonourable.

    But it might make peace a more attractive proposition much faster, hmm?

  43. DRS says:

    Sorry – that should be “other side of the world”. Sheesh. Preview is your friend…

  44. Mike says:

    Sorry but the title of this article is inaccurate and down right ignorant. Ron Paul was right Gingrich is a Chickenhawk. Google it if you dont believe me. Even a damn 5 year old knows how to use google. Do people like you actually do any research before you write articles? Let me guess since gingrich said it wasnt true during a debate you actually believe it? Politicians wouldn’t lie or fake emotions for votes would they? Lets remember this is the same guy who was earning $60,000 a speach and $1.6 mil as a “Historian”.

  45. Terence says:

    Ron Paul was responding to Newt’s charge against him, that Paul was dangerous. Santorum also claims this.

    Both are hawks and both did NOT serve in the military… so who is really dangerous?

    Ron’s point is not to defend the Vietnam war, or even to criticise those who choose not to serve, but to point out that as far as dangerous goes – maybe if you’ve never served you should not be so quick to ask others to do so by fanning the flames of war.

    [Newt on Ron Paul]

    “The fact is his views on foreign policy I think are stunningly dangerous for the survival of the United States.”

  46. Terence says:

    @Eric Williams: This was Paul’s reply to Newt for calling his foreign policy ‘dangerous’. He bristles at the news letters because he has answered the charge so many times before. If this was the 100th time Paul brought up New’t service record then I would allow that he too could bristle.

  47. huntdoc says:

    Newt got some medicine from the good doctor!
    Ron Paul served active duty as a flight surgeon from 1963 to 1965, in South Korea, Iran, Ethiopia, and Turkey — all while married with children! Then, went on to serve in the Air National Guard while completing his residency at a hospital through 1968.
    As much as his foreign policy views are taken out of context, skewed, or just lied about – I give him the benefit of the doubt on this one against Newt who routinely talks half-truths and lies about RP’s record and views while the media stands idly by. Newt brought this one himself — just like in the 1996 primary where Newt and the Bushes supported a Dem-turned-Repub Greg Laughlin in the primary against Ron Paul. Didn’t Newt say or imply he would rather support Obama than Paul, too?

  48. Steve Verdon says:

    There’s one final part of Paul’s argument that’s puzzling. As a libertarian, one would think he would oppose the draft and support any persons lawful attempt to avoid it. After all, it was a libertarian economist, Milton Friedman, who played a pivotal role in convincing President Nixon to support ending the draft (the politics of the situation helped Nixon make that decision too, obviously). Wouldn’t someone who supports individual liberty and autonomy also support a person’s right to prevent themselves from being subjected to the whim of the state in this matter? Or is Paul just cynically using this issue for political advantage? Based on the available evidence, I think it’s the second.

    I think it is the whole hypocrisy thing Doug. It is like a very rich person complaining I don’t want to taxes and yet they utilize even [legal] loopholes and avoid taxes.

    Or even better, Warren Buffet complaining about the rich while his own company fights tooth and nail to avoid paying their corporate taxes.

  49. Katharine G says:

    There’s one final part of Paul’s argument that’s puzzling. As a libertarian, one would think he would oppose the draft and support any persons lawful attempt to avoid it. …Wouldn’t someone who supports individual liberty and autonomy also support a person’s right to prevent themselves from being subjected to the whim of the state in this matter? Or is Paul just cynically using this issue for political advantage? Based on the available evidence, I think it’s the second.

    If Doug had done about two minutes of internet research before posting he would have found that, in regards to the draft, Dr. Paul is neither a hypocrite or a cynic. Ron Paul is against the draft. As he himself stated:

    “For years now I have routinely introduced legislation to get rid of the selective service, because why have a selective service if you’re not planning to have a draft. And to me that is the most serious attack on personal liberty. It is involuntary servitude. If you can draft young men and women and send them overseas in wars that are undeclared and think this is part of a method to preserve liberty, then we are sadly mistaken. And the truth is, in this day and age, if there is to be a draft, it will be both for men and women, because we sure wouldn’t want to treat one sex unfairly compared to the other, but that is a heck of a way to have equality to treat both sexes the [same] way by enslaving them and forcing them to go overseas and fight wars.”

  50. Then Katherine, tell me why Congressman Paul is cynically exploiting for political purposes the fact that 40-odd years ago someone used legal means to avoid complying an immoral law?

  51. Katharine G says:

    Doug,

    Because that “someone” is not just some average citizen voicing his or her opinion about current events but, rather, a person running for President of the United States who, if elected, will have the ability to send American troops into combat potentially leading to the deaths of untold numbers of soldiers and foreign civilians.

    If a potential president – whether with military experience or not – approached the possibility of war with trepidation and humility, rather than Newt’s bluster and clear excitement, perhaps then Ron Paul’s attack would be unjustified.

  52. Paul says:

    @michael reynolds: I was very blessed and never was forced to go to war but do believe I would of if asked by my country. I’m going to say this real simply. That tired old SOB has no right to tell me what I think about foreign policy because he safely looked between ladies legs here in this country why men and women were fighting and dying for a very difficult war in Vietnam. I think he is a huge fraud to even try to claim he went over there. What a joke. I didn’t serve but I can smell BS when its in the air and he blows it more than anyone else up on that stage. Flight Surgeon. Gosh what bravery. I think he kinda knew he’d never have a bullet buzz by his head don’t you. Brave my ass.

  53. Paul says:

    @huntdoc: Again. Everyone knows that a flight surgeon has no combat risk. Ron Paul had no combat risk. What experience or perspective did he gain from this world travel as an officer in the Air Force that makes him a better President than anybody else. Newt actually had more experience traveling around from non-combatant base to base than Ron Paul. What is your point. That RP got some insight from the officers club in Iran. The bullets were flying in Vietnam.

  54. dvictor says:

    It does no good to call out a candidate who didn’t want to go to war for sitting it out. Its the hypocrisy of calling for war and verbally supporting one you aren’t willing to fight that gets you in trouble.

  55. MD Steve says:

    Doug M. : I’m a VietNam vet and I resent your reference to the meaning of that 10 year conflict as a running sore that should have been forgotten after 2004. What was special about 2004, other than our re-electing a draft dodging rich kid to the Nation’s highest office – the guy whose principal achievements were getting us into a useless war in Iraq and bankrupting the country? As time goes by, it gets easier for you inside (or ‘below’) the Beltway types to denigrate what we did in Southeast Asia and its importance to our eventually prevailing over the Soviet Union. The number of Americans who have dies in all the conflicts since totals to less than 1/6th of the men and women who dies for us in those jungles. This was the last existential conflict our military has engaged in. All the rest have been ‘wars’ of choice. You will never understand how folks like me felt serving as soldiers under Bill CLinton and George W., men who intentionally and repeatedly avoided putting themselves in harm’s way for our country. This doesn’t mean that being in war qualifies you to make weighty geopolitical decisions or that choosing not to makes you a worthless person. But it does help in a profound way to define a man’s character. And to the person who asserted that ‘America is not Sparta’ – look up which side prevailed in the Peloponnesian Wars. Those would be the wars between Athens and Sparta, in case you were blogging during history class. Those who are ignorant of history are bound to repeat it.

  56. nader paul kucinich gravel mckinney baldwin ventura sheehan perot carter says:

    bloodthirsty AIPAC Neocon chickenhawk war profiteers ?