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chickenhawks(28 posts)

Aug 20, 2002 1:05 AM,12271,777567,00.html

Chicken hawks

Matthew Engel
Tuesday August 20, 2002
The Guardian

Of all the many nonsenses affecting American aviation at present, the most absurd by far is the post-September 11 regulation imposed solely on flights to and from National Airport (or, as the Republicans try to insist, Reagan National) in Washington that bars anyone leaving their seat for the half-hour of flying time nearest the capital.
No matter that you are old, young, sick or simply bursting. No matter that half an hour in the air takes you hundreds of miles away. No matter that the rule does not apply at Washington's other airport, Dulles (about two minutes' flying time from National), nor at any of the hundreds of other American airports near potential terrorist targets. The flight path at National goes close to the centre of Washington and the leaders' safety is paramount. As we saw when the president's jet zigzagged across the country in the hours after the attacks, members of the ruling elite are concerned about the safety of all Americans, but somewhat more concerned about their own. This fits, to a startling extent, with their personal histories.

Traditionally, the left has always had an inferiority complex about military experience. In Britain, Ted Heath (a wartime artillery colonel) used to patronise Harold Wilson (who spent the war in Whitehall) on the subject. Here in 1996 Bob Dole (badly wounded in the second world war) played the same card against the unheroic Bill Clinton. But as the Bush administration paints itself into an ever-tighter corner with its Iraq rhetoric, it is instructive to note the astonishing extent to which those so anxious to stage the next war managed to be absent from the last one.

The US is now mainly governed by men in their mid-50s, ie the Vietnam generation - except that this lot missed being the Vietnam generation. The enterprisingly original New Hampshire Gazette ( maintains a "Chickenhawks" database to tell their stories. Most of the allegations fit with facts recorded elsewhere.

Not everyone is implicated: Colin Powell's military record is solid, of course, which may help explain his distaste for fighting; and Donald Rumsfeld, an older man, was a naval aviator, albeit in the undramatic mid-50s. Otherwise, it starts with the president, who missed Vietnam by securing a cushy number in the Texas air national guard after (so everyone assumes) his congressman father pulled strings to get him in. It is less well-known that Dick Cheney avoided the draft by getting deferments, first because he was a student, then because he was married. "I had other priorities in the 60s than military service," he has said. Fine. Me too, Dick. Some people have got other priorities now. How about you?

Consider Washington's two most prominent superhawks: Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's deputy) and his adviser Richard Perle. Who's Who in America is curiously vague about their precise whereabouts in the late 1960s, though it is fairly clear where they were not. As the shrewd and sceptical Republican senator Chuck Hagel said last week: "Maybe Mr Perle would like to be in the first wave of those who go into Baghdad."

The two Democrat leaders in Congress, Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle, served; their Republican counterparts, Trent Lott and Dick Armey, did not. Tom DeLay, the most powerful hawk in the House of Representatives, missed Vietnam too: he was working as a pest exterminator. Reportedly, he once complained that he would have served; but, he said, all the places were taken up by ethnic minorities.

There are similar stories about almost every other prominent rightwing Republican of recent vintage. Newt Gingrich, ex-Speaker of the House, went the Cheney route; Kenneth Starr, Clinton's legal nemesis, had psoriasis; Jack Kemp, Dole's running mate in 1996, was unfit because of a knee injury, though he heroically conti
chickenhawks continued - Limbaugh's excuseMJ
Aug 20, 2002 1:07 AM
continued as a National Football League quarterback for another eight years; Pat Buchanan had arthritis in his knees, though he soon became an avid jogger.

The best story concerns Rush Limbaugh, the ferociously bellicose radio personality, who allegedly had either "anal cysts" or an "ingrown hair follicle on his bottom". It is not my custom to mock others' ailments, but anyone who has listened to Limbaugh's programme can imagine the dripping scorn he would bring to the revelation that a prominent Democrat had skipped a war over something like that. Also, in his case, a pain in the arse is peculiarly appropriate.

Admission: I did not serve in Vietnam either. My country was not there, and did not ask me, or anyone else. Like those named above, I was unenthusiastic about that war. Unlike most of them, I am profoundly alarmed about the one now being plotted.
Not that I care...TJeanloz
Aug 20, 2002 6:43 AM
While I recognize that this is the place for non-cycling discussions, I think it's getting a little bit old for re-posting articles from the Gaurdian every week. If we wanted to read their insightful reporting, we can find our own way to the website; God knows that MJ has pointed us there enough times.

Give it a rest, we're not all outraged at everything that the right wing does, and give us some of your own opinions, rather than re-hashing what some biased hack wrote in an exceedingly liberal newspaper that nobody cares about.

My question is: what do you hope to achieve? Your post asked no question- it merely quotes an entire article. It starts no discussion. Give us some insight, tell us how you feel about the article (your paragraph at the end doesn't mention the lack of a war record, or really add a discussion point at all). Don't just give us the article; that's boarderline spam.
if that's how you feel then of course it's spamMJ
Aug 20, 2002 7:14 AM
if you don't like it don't read it

I didn't realise that there were rules for putting in commentary and 'taking a stand' - I think you have been watching too much Jerry

and for a bit of commentary which I'd thought was more than self evident - but I'll spell it out for you - maybe you should be more alarmed by what the right wing does - particularly when you have the never been in the military gung ho go to war crowd making all the decisions while the American public is all but mute on the subject

perhaps it's your inherent Swiss conservatism and introspection which prevents you from noticing the rest of the world's opinion - but the point of view raised in the article is positively main stream on this side of the Atlantic

previous posts without comments have generated plenty of interesting discussions... and again if you don't like it don't read it
I just think it's retardedTJeanloz
Aug 20, 2002 7:31 AM
I just don't understand the motivation behind posting an article. Why not post a post that says: "I understand that many of the American hawks have no military experience, is anybody else troubled by this?"

Because I care about, and respect, what you have to say. I don't care about, or respect, what the Gaurdian has to say, because too many of their articles that I have read have been biased and rife with intentional inaccurracy.

You're right, I have the choice to read them, but I presume when I see your name after a post that there is going to be some insight from YOU in it. Then I have to sift through this long article, trying to find out what you have to say- because I don't care what the Gaurdian has to say any more than you care what the National Review has to say. It would make my reading more pleasant if you tag the line: "Gaurdian article, no value added from me".

My point is that if I want to read what the Gaurdian has to say, I will read it at their website. I read your posts, because I'm interested in what you have to say. It also mildly offends me that you violate their copyright in posting the article, but those rules seem to go out the window on the web.
New Hampshire Gazette Data BaseMJ
Aug 20, 2002 7:40 AM

not breaching any copyright rules - they get sourced (as did the NY Times article below)

the difference between us is that I do care what the National Review has to say - if there's an interesting article post away I'd be glad to read it
Point well taken but...Sintesi
Aug 20, 2002 10:16 AM
Newt Gingrich, Kenneth Starr, Jack Kemp, Pat Buchanan???

Why are they included in an article about war mongers with no military background?

PB is an isolationist, Ken Starr is an attorney whose ideas about war no one cares about. Has he even said anything on the record? All of these guys haven't exactly been relavent to US policy for some time if at all.

It's a nice article but the bias is appalling. Why can't the guy keep down the anti-republican swipes? This is right up there with the "Lance Armstrong is no athlete" article from recent weeks. I mean his point of view is just for "entertainment" right? With no real purpose other than to tweak rebublicans and provoke irrational response?

Wouldn't you say?
he's a tweakerMJ
Aug 21, 2002 12:15 AM
certainly - FWIW the NH Gazette chart is more interesting

I don't think that journalist is there for any in-depth political stuff - just social commentary with an (obvious) entertaining bent

I guess he just lumped all those objectionable guys together
Aug 21, 2002 8:32 AM
David Limbaugh

August 3, 2002

Invading Iraq is in our national interests

It is certainly appropriate for Congress to debate whether we should attack Iraq since it has the constitutional power to declare war. But it would be helpful if the discussions were focused on determining what is in our vital national interests.

Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, "In Iraq, we cannot afford to replace a despot with chaos. The long-suffering Iraqi people need to know a regime change would benefit them. So do Iraq's neighbors, and the American people will want that assurance as well."

With all due respect to the Iraqi people and with genuine concern for their interests, let's not fool ourselves. Our decision to invade Iraq will not and should not be driven primarily by their interests. If that were the case, we would have gone back into Iraq way before now.

When it comes to foreign policy, no nation -- including one as powerful as the United States -- can afford to interfere in the internal affairs of another nation every time it disapproves of the way it treats its citizens. If we were to intervene against every regime that repressed its people, we would need a military five times the size of China's and a defense budget exceeding our gross national product. We would be at war with at least every other nation on the globe -- simultaneously.

But given the limitations on our resources -- we have to make choices based on priorities that are viewed through the prism of our national interests. Other considerations must, at most, be secondary.

When we lose sight of this governing principle, our foreign policy is held hostage to other concerns, and it becomes incoherent and indefensible. Far too many of these concerns are currently muddling our judgment on Iraq. Some, for example, are arguing that we mustn't invade Iraq unless we can establish a nexus between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

We needn't saddle ourselves with this artificial burden. We know that Saddam supports the disruptive and murderous activities of terrorists against the United States and Israel. Saddam himself launched Scud missiles at Israel utterly without provocation during the Persian Gulf War.

Even if he didn't organize or subsidize the Sept. 11 attacks, he will do everything he can to encourage and abet terrorist activities in the future. That's all the justification we need under the Bush Doctrine, which calls for U.S. action against terrorists and those regimes that harbor or support them.

But we need not be limited by the Bush Doctrine anyway, as sound as it is. We are justified in preemptively striking Iraq because Saddam is developing weapons of mass destruction and would use them against our allies and us.

We also shouldn't wait for resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict before moving against Iraq, as some have naively suggested. If permanent Middle East peace is a condition precedent to our action, we'll have to wait past biblical Armageddon.

And those who are urging a tighter embargo in lieu of the military option or who insist that we may not attack without first being attacked are not making U.S. national security interests paramount -- and in the modern age especially, that could be suicidal.

Let's assume that we had been tipped off about the Sept. 11 attacks in advance and knew precisely where the terrorists were training in preparation for the atrocities. Would we have been morally constrained to await their attacks before swooping down on their training camps with heavy ordnance? I think not.

So, Senator Biden, we don't have to satisfy ourselves that an Iraqi regime change would benefit the Iraqi people, though it is hard to conceive how it would not. And we cannot be deterred from an invasion because it might produce "chaos." Of course it will produce chaos -- it better, or our military won't be doing its job.

I'm n
counter - restDougSloan
Aug 21, 2002 8:33 AM
I'm not saying that following our military operation we shouldn't try to help establish a stable, democratic regime in Iraq and do what we can to help the "long-suffering" Iraqi people. But concerns about post-invasion regimes should not dissuade us from attacking, so long as we eliminate Iraq's ability to produce weapons of mass destruction.

The military experts can debate over the best way to carry out this mission, and the diplomats can determine how best to restore order and stability afterward, but these issues should have no bearing on our decision to intervene. That decision is a no-brainer and should be implemented as quickly as is militarily feasible.
I think there's a problem withMJ
Aug 21, 2002 9:35 AM
the usual liberal stance on many things associated with military action - i.e. don't do it

my fellow 'liberals' are the first to complain about the west/US allowing [insert homicidal despot's name] 'campaign of terror' to continue against his population - they're also the first ones to say that any action taken is naked military aggression/will cause more suffering/is only linked to oil/etc.

appeasement is not always the best answer - there are many examples where we collectively intervened and where we should have

and where there was no intervention (and there should have been) is not grounds to say that had there been economic reasons we would have/or we shouldn't do what's right now...

I think the real concern is that while SH is clearly a liability - it appears people in positions of power aren't thinking things through - the implications of both action and inaction must be considered - I also think it is ironic that those who have a record of military service are overwhelmingly against intervention while those without such service are in favour of such an action

I question what is being considered by the (mainly US) public at large - there is very little debate in the US post Sep. 11 - very little demand for justification or facts - very little of the other side being considered - there are counterpoints to the refrain of 'SH has WMD's therefore we must end his regime' and I don't see those being considered or even discussed in the US press

I'm remain unconvinced and wish these things would be aired a bit more comprehensively - but I suspect we'll just keep being shovelled the same stories by the same people without any meaningful debate

two final hippy thoughts (still from me Tjean) which though simple, represent some pretty serious reasoning - 1. you can bomb the world to pieces but you can't bomb the world to peace & 2. fighting a war for peace is like fukking for virginity
What would you have done?DougSloan
Aug 21, 2002 10:07 AM
What would you have done, if possible, to deter or stop Hitler before WWII? There were many making the same arguments we hear now against military use. Are we doomed to repeat mistakes?
What would you have done?MJ
Aug 22, 2002 12:28 AM
yeah that's why I mentioned the appeasement thing above - I suppose the thing that makes me uneasy is that there is a total absence of discussion or public consideration of the alternatives - there's also not been a 'full disclosure' in relation to the alleged threats from those in power - who it must be agreed have not been 'honest' regarding any number of other issues and perhaps have a skewed, narrow interpretation/iew of the situation

SH is no Hitler - but Hitler never had (potential) access to WMD's

I guess the question is why is military intervention a efault position which everyone seems so comfortable with?
don't think soDougSloan
Aug 22, 2002 5:50 AM
"I guess the question is why is military intervention is the default position which everyone seems so comfortable with?"

Disagree. I don't think it's the default position. We have been trying since the Gulf War to get SH to shape up. What's that been, about 10 years? He thumbs his nose at us. So, I think military intervention is far from the default, it's the last resort.

Also, it's not the "position which everyone seems to comfortable with." Again, nothing could be further from the truth. Rayther than everyone, no one is comfortable with it. War is horrible. What are the alternatives, though? Wait for SH to sponsor more terrorism, create his own nasty weapons, kill more of his own people, invade a country again? At some point, military action, as horrific as it is, becomes almost a moral imperative compared to sitting by and watching this guy kill more people or sponsor the killing of more people.

Let's face it. If Clinton were in office, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Some people just hate the fact that a Republican is in office, and they will do and say everything possible to oppose everything he does. They just can't stand the fact that Democrats lost. They can't believe that the American people could be so stupid or duped to have voted for a Republican, with the associated loss of power for them and their leaders. This attitude is glaringly obvious, and colors every remark made on these subjects. All credibility is lost, for they knee-jerk oppose everything, absolutely everything the Republicans propose. Tell me I'm wrong. Point out some things Bush has done with which you all agree. Tell us exactly when military action is warranted. I don't intend to focus only on you, MJ, but all of the knee-jerk liberals. Establish some credability here.

don't think soMJ
Aug 22, 2002 7:02 AM
I don't think my post above was a typical liberal knee jerk response - read it again and see - though I understand you're perhaps making a different point re credibility and not about my points so far

from where I sit this thread is not a Democrat vs Republican thing - more of a I can't believe we're not alarmed by this and talking about it - there's certainly no dissenting US views in the media that I've seen - if so where are they?

we could have a Rep vs Dem thread if you want... I know lots of good ones :-)

lots of people/dictators thumb their nose at the west/US - that's not grounds for invasion - what terrorism has SH sponsored?, lots of people/dictators have nasty weapons, kill their own people and invade other countries - anyways which WMD does SH have?

you're right though at a point military action does become necessary - a point I made above re appeasement - I'm not comfortable with the usual liberal stance on the subject of military intervention - Haiti, Bosnia, Somalia, East Timor, Kosovo, Afghanistan and even the Gulf War are all good recent examples of necessary action in my opinion - the recently announced US position on Zimbabwe is also warranted and welcomed

however, I am not comfortable with the deafening silence coming from the US re considering the implications of 'action' - nor am I comfortable with the mainstream Euro view that the proposed invasion of Iraq is an American 'adventure' and should not be supported

if there is credible evidence that SH has WMD's that he's gonna use let's (within reason) present/see the info. and know that's what we're doing and why we're doing it - what about N Korea's WMD's? they're openly hostile to the US and have recently tested delivery rockets - the US/west's response is silence

as someone else said the level of pro-war propaganda is showing when CNN show the cute white dogs Bin Laden killed while not acknowledging US and other western militaries did/do the same thing - (let's see pictures of that) - if it was in a Clint Eastwood movie everyone would be cued up to know who was gonna get it next... naked foreshadowing
don't think soKing Henry
Aug 22, 2002 8:15 AM
Yes, the CNN pieces on cute dogs being gassed was over the top. Unfortunately, that is what CNN thought would get peoples' attention and make them watch, as opposed to an in-depth analysis of what WMD Iraq may have produced or be trying to produce. But that is the nature of ultra-mainstream media and, for better or worse, general human nature.

As for opposing views, perhaps you aren't looking very hard if you can't find them. Try listening to NPR for a while, which is very accessible. At least here in Minnesota, we routinely hear interviews with various experts who are both for and against military action, as well as insights into Palestinian and Israeli life, the possible motivations and mindset of terrorists (suicide and otherwise), etc. It is unfortunate that these stories are not played more frequently on the nightly news and CNN, but they apparently don't register enough in focus groups to warrant significant airtime. However, these stories are out there and readily accessible.
don't think soMJ
Aug 22, 2002 8:22 AM
sadly we don't get NPR here (I'm in the UK) - it's a beacon of rational thought in a sea of mediocrity - most people are only really interested in the weather I guess...

so clue me in to where the debate is that's accesible -shouldn't it be something that gets discussed in the mainstream media?

still having difficulty finding anything reliable about SH's WMD...
don't think soKing Henry
Aug 22, 2002 8:52 AM
National Public Radio gets many of its international stories from Public Radio International, which I would think would be broadcast in the UK. But there are other sources, such as the WA Post, New York Times, and other large city newspapers. I can't say I go through them all with regularity, but I have seen anti-aggression stories and am sure that they will continue to appear. I will never expect much from CNN or the other major U.S. networks.

As for accessibility and what "should" be discussed in mainstream media, I agree with your sentiments. However, mainstream media is largely driven by economics, and most of the U.S. public will not take the time and do not have any interest in watching or reading stories about opposing viewpoints.

As for SH's WMD, I can't point you to any place right now, but the reports I hear are all over the board. The biggest concern is nuclear technology, and various pundits swear either that SH is very close or that he cannot possibly produce a weapon. I am not sure whether we will ever get a clear answer on that one, short of taking over the country and uncovering the facilities. I think we know already that SH has at least crude forms of chemical, and perhaps biological, weapons and could, conceivably, deliver them via Scud missiles. Now, however, our primary concern is that he might provide such weapons to terrorist groups. Does he have an interest in doing so? That I can't tell, but maybe the mere possibility is enough to warrant action.
don't think soMJ
Aug 22, 2002 9:00 AM
that's the problem with the current approach - there's lts of bad things that could happen - but there's no evidence that's what's goiing on or will be going on re WMD - the viewpoint also doesn't take into account far more dangerous situations where we collectvely aren't taking action

there's lots of anti-war stuff here - in fact few seem to be supporting the invade Iraq approach

I go through the NY Times/Washington Post (and other international papers) almost everyday for work related stuff - thbey're more moderate than others...
don't think soKing Henry
Aug 22, 2002 12:39 PM
The point of the thread I started above was to explore the threshhold at which people would support military action against Iraq, which is precisely what you are wrestling with. Most people would not insist upon waiting for the next 9/11-type event that absolutely, unequivocally ties Iraq into direct attacks against the U.S. Similarly, I don't believe that most people would support military action based solely on Iraq's possession of WMD without regard for its potential use of WMD (e.g., we aren't invading Pakistan, India or North Korea).

So, the question becomes one of risk and threat. For all practical purposes, we know that Iraq has at least some WMD (chemical weapons). For Bush and his crew, taking into consideration Saddam's anti-U.S. position and certain less publicized actions (e.g., alleged links to 9/11 and terrorist support), that apparently is enough to justify war or similar military action. If a person's leanings are toward protection in the face of uncertainty, that person might very well side with Bush. But if a person's leanings are against military action without evidence of the proverbial "clear and present danger," then that person would likely oppose Bush. In the U.S. criminal system, we face a similar issue in connection with the crimes of conspiracy and attempt--namely, how close does a person have to come to committing a crime before we punish them? Now, where do we draw the line for Iraq and others?
here is what I think we should doDougSloan
Aug 23, 2002 9:10 AM
We should have a diplomat, general, or the President himself send a message to SH. Tell SH that if there is any, any, terrorism directed at U.S. interests anywhere in the world, we will hold him and his country accountable; in other words, not only are we cautioning that he will be punished, but we, in a way, force him to take a stand and maybe take an active role against terrorism. Plain and simple; you will pay for any terrorism, whether we can prove your connection or not. Doesn't sound fair, but might be effective.

Further, we inform him that he must cease all efforts to create or obtain WMD, and when and if we have evidence that he does not, there will be punishment; don't tell him exactly what we'll do. Further, if he ever attempts to actually deploy or sell WMD, he will receive the severest form of punishment imaginable, up to and including obliteration.

Then again, this may well have already been done.

Aug 21, 2002 8:53 AM
Change "Iraq" to "Soviet Union." Move the timeline back to 1980.

Shouldn't we have invaded the Soviet Union?

Why didn't we?
that's funnyDougSloan
Aug 21, 2002 8:57 AM
Not a good analogy. They'd have blown us off the map. M.A.D.

Aug 21, 2002 9:06 AM
Replace "Iraq" with "Iran." Move the timeline back to 1980 or the mid-1980s. Iran was the greatest sponsor of terrorism against America until Osama came along.

Why didn't we invade Iran?
don't knowDougSloan
Aug 21, 2002 9:33 AM
I don't know. Could have been pressure from the USSR. Could have been that we didn't take the terrorism threat seriously enough, yet. I just don't know. Do you have any idea?

lots of reasonsmr_spin
Aug 21, 2002 10:05 AM
I think cooler heads prevailed. It wasn't an environment we wanted to fight in, and it wasn't an enemy we wanted to face. Also, America had no real friends in the region at that time. If you could get past the initial problems, you ran into a huge logistical problem of how to get all the equipment over there, and where to put it.

The same problem exists today. Saudi Arabia isn't going to be the staging area like it was in 1991.

In the end, smart people looked at the problem and decided it wasn't worth the cost. What would an invasion accomplish, anyway? For the most part, Iran was just financing terrorists. The terrorists were living and training elsewhere, usually in Libya and Lebanon. Most of them weren't even Persian (Iranian).

I also believe that the Vietnam mentality was still present in our commanders. The Army didn't want to go anywhere where it couldn't win. All you had to do was witness the human wave attacks Iran did in the Iran-Iraq war to realize you weren't fighting a conventional enemy. And eight dead servicemen during the failed hostage rescue was not a good omen.

Today, the Vietnam mentality has been cleansed by the Gulf War. We are back to being the butt-kickers of the world. We are pissed off at the Sep 11 attacks. We are flushed with success in Afghanistan. But dammit, Afghanistan was too easy. We need a real man's challenge. We need to invade Iraq.

It's lunacy.

A better question is why we didn't invade India or Pakistan to prevent them from getting weapons of mass destruction. What is different there? Both of those countries now have them, and it scares everyone in the region.

The arguments for invading Iraq don't hold water. If we know of arms factories, let's bomb the crap out of them. If necessary, let's drop in special forces for quick commando raids. But a full fledged invasion? Pure lunacy.
One inaccuracy...Starliner
Aug 20, 2002 7:57 AM
Jack Kemp toiled as a QB in the American Football League, not in the National Football League
LOL - either way a great excuse - nmMJ
Aug 20, 2002 8:25 AM