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The Bravery Required to Stay Home
July 25, 2006 8:53 PM   Subscribe


 
Wow, Greenwald's response is wonderful. I like his blog more and more each day.
posted by mediareport at 8:57 PM on July 25, 2006


To the extent courage and cowardice play a role in war advocacy at all, one could argue that those who blithely want to send other people off to war in order to protect themselves against every potential risk are driven by fear and weakness. And those who are less fearful will require a much higher level of personal threat before believing that it is desirable and just to send other people off to risk their lives.

Great point.
posted by interrobang at 9:03 PM on July 25, 2006


US foreign policy would be more hawkish, not less, if decisions about war and peace were left up to members of the armed forces.

i don't buy this at all. most soldiers are proud to say that they will do what they are ordered to do and get the job done, regardless of their personal opinions on the matter.

however when they are given the chance to make that decision, they seem to advocate restraint far often than those who've never fought.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 9:05 PM on July 25, 2006


Ooh, let me guess -- Jacoby still sucks?
Now I'll go check it out.
posted by uosuaq at 9:21 PM on July 25, 2006


And those who are less fearful will require a much higher level of personal threat before believing that it is desirable and just to send other people off to risk their lives.

This is a vital point, and I don't know why it's not obvious to more people.

Generalized neo-conservative response: "OH SHIT OH SHIT the TERRARISTS are going to get us! (even though I live in Bumfuck, Idaho) We have to be STRONG and go BLOW THE CRAP out of some place! Turn Irak into a parking lot!"

Generalized pinko-liberal response: "Terrorists? Meh. Unlikely. I think we should do something about global warming, though, coz that shit is looking nasty."

I'd argue the former is significantly more cowardly than the later. Or just stupider. It's hard to figure out which.
posted by Jimbob at 9:25 PM on July 25, 2006


Oh, damn. I was right. I keep forgetting why the Globe publishes this guy. And then I remember...I just don't know.
posted by uosuaq at 9:27 PM on July 25, 2006


Or just stupider. It's hard to figure out which.

It can be both.
posted by pompomtom at 9:32 PM on July 25, 2006


Nice. Greenwald's post is great, as usual.

Maybe the Globe will print it.
posted by homunculus at 9:39 PM on July 25, 2006


Crunchy cons?
posted by homunculus at 9:44 PM on July 25, 2006


So a newspaper guy wrote some shit, and a blogger guy called him on it? Man that is so crazy! Best of the web.
posted by LarryC at 9:46 PM on July 25, 2006


Jimbob, liberal opposition to the war isn't about opposing the fight against terrorism, it's about knowing that the war doesn't have one fuck of a thing to do with fighting terrorism.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:50 PM on July 25, 2006


Can someone who lives near LarryC go by his home? I think someone has broken in and put a gun to his head and forced him to read the two links of the FPP.
posted by bardic at 9:54 PM on July 25, 2006


While I don't agree with Jacoby on pretty much everything, I think it is incorrect for Greenwald to say he "completely distorted what it (chickenhawk) actually means" in everyday use.

Although there is no formal definition for it, the "chicken hawk" criticism is not typically made against someone who merely (a) advocates a war but (b) will not fight in that war and/or has never fought in any war (although, admittedly, there are those who mis-use the term that way).

Actually, I believe that a majority of the times when the term is used on Metafilter and in other forums and blogs, the meaning is pretty much exactly what Greenwald indicates it doesn't mean. His admits that there are some who use it that way, but I would say most do.
posted by Arch_Stanton at 9:56 PM on July 25, 2006


But even the usage he's deprecating hits home when you consider things like Cheney's five deferments.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:01 PM on July 25, 2006


Here's an example that highlights the problem with Greenwald's putative chicken hawk definition: a brave combat veteran could be a chicken hawk according to him (since all that requires is espousing some views), but that seems to me to defy common usage.
posted by grobstein at 10:07 PM on July 25, 2006


A chickenhawk is someone who advocates war but is too much of a wuss to participate, right?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:11 PM on July 25, 2006


Jimbob, liberal opposition to the war isn't about opposing the fight against terrorism, it's about knowing that the war doesn't have one fuck of a thing to do with fighting terrorism.

Believing there to be other more worthy fights isn't the same as opposing the fight against terrorism. Our definitions of "liberal opposition to the war" do not conflict. I'm sure there are liberals out there who believe fighting terrorism to be the most important mission of mankind, and that we're simply going about it the wrong way. There are others, like myself, who think finding ways to prevent tens of thousands of children dying from drinking polluted water is a wee bit more important than Al Queda. That's the thing about being liberal, you see - it's not all black and white, there's room for wiggle.
posted by Jimbob at 10:17 PM on July 25, 2006


Actually, reading your comment again George_Spiggott, it pisses me off a bit.

liberal opposition to the war isn't about opposing the fight against terrorism, it's about knowing that the war doesn't have one fuck of a thing to do with fighting terrorism.

You man, liberal opposition to the war is about whatever you say it's about then, with no free thought and personal investigation involved? Liberal opposition to the war is whatever Daily Kos says it is? I'm not allowed to oppose the war out of pure pacifism, or because of the imperialism it involves, or because I think there are more important battles to be fought? There is only one way to think?

Man you remind me of the chick from the Socialst Youth Organisation I was a member of for 2 days, before deciding I was more of an anarchist anyway.
posted by Jimbob at 10:24 PM on July 25, 2006


Well if it gets your dander down at all, assume I put a "from what I've seen" or "in my experience" or "the general tenor of opinions I've heard is to the effect that", etc.

On the other hand, if you prefer your dander up, then by all means continue to suppose that I was somehow decreeing it.

Man you remind me of the chick from the Socialst Youth Organisation

Well I hope she was hot, otherwise I'll be really offended.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:39 PM on July 25, 2006


I always thought a chickenhawk was an old gay guy who preys on young boys. Or that loudmouth little bird in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons.
posted by turducken at 11:01 PM on July 25, 2006


And whether you have fought for your country or never had that honor...
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you haven't yet had the honor of fighting for your country, I think the folks down at your local recruitment office would be happy to help you remedy that right quick.
posted by anjamu at 11:11 PM on July 25, 2006


Aaaand.......scene.

That was Jimbob and George_Spiggott illustrating just why the conservatives have trounced liberals these past, what, 8 years? While you kids are bickering about exactly how opposed to the Iraq war you are and for exactly what reasons and your reason isn't as good as mine and "Isn't every one just entitled to their opinion anyway, man?", the conservatives are amassing the fundies in their megachurches, the corporations, the ignorant, the just plain stupid, the predators and the prey all in one big steamroller to flatten us out.

While you're busy with your "personal investigation" to find to just precisely why you feel the way you do, you stand to lose another election and now the country's armed forces stand on the edge of yet another invasion.

But go ahead. Let's get pissed off a bit at the next guy for not being perfectly equally accomodating to every shade of the war opposition rainbow. I'm sure once we all manage to agree that those who oppose the war on the grounds of pure pacifism are better than those opposing it because of it's relation to the War on Terror we'll be able to get cracking on fixing up this world of ours.
posted by quite unimportant at 11:23 PM on July 25, 2006


Plus they cheat.
posted by Artw at 11:26 PM on July 25, 2006


Actually, q.u., I agree with you about bickering. I was responding to what I felt was a mischaracterization of the nature of opposition to the war -- I've never heard anyone suggest that terrorism is not worth fighting. My offering an alternative generalization hardly plays into the hands of the right, and I think if you look back, only one of us got spitting mad.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:31 PM on July 25, 2006


Hmm, I always though "chicken hawk" just meant someone who advocated for war while avoiding the fighting, which makes more sense for babyboomers who dodged the draft.

Either way, they're all wankers!
posted by delmoi at 11:32 PM on July 25, 2006


My own sense is that the chickenhawk meme will only grow stronger as we go into the fourth, fifth, and tenth years of the occupation of Iraq (speaking as an American). This war was supposed to be over in one year, two tops, and easily winnable with using only volunteers. It kind of made sense, in those heady days following the collapse of Saddam's regime, to say that if I were to enlist tomorrow, by the time I was trained and geared up and shipped this little tin-horn will have righted itself into a beacon of freedom.

So I do think it's a tad bitchy to throw the chickenhawk thing out in the first place--plenty of great American leaders didn't have miltary experience (then again, many did). But if you're going to slime living, breathing Vietnam vets like Kerry and Murtha (hate on them for their politics, their personalities, fine, but a "purple heart bandaid" is never, never appropriate, since it demeans the service of all current soldiers and vets), expect me to repeatedly and heartily remind people that you can enroll in the military until the age of 42 now, as can your sons and daughters.
posted by bardic at 11:37 PM on July 25, 2006


Re: Jeff Jacoby, "Chicken" is a fine start, but "hawk" would not be my preferred second half of the appellation.
posted by stenseng at 11:37 PM on July 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


G.S., I'll suggest it: Terrorism is not worth fighting. Engaging in a "war on terror" is like engaging in a war on sadness. Declaring war on an emotion (or the tactic that elicits it) is the goofiest of oxymorons -- and it's unwinnable. Yet taking our collective eye off the ball is pretty much the idea: A state of ill-defined yet permanent war is good for some folks on both sides of the current conflicts in the Middle East.
posted by turducken at 11:54 PM on July 25, 2006


turducken, that's a fair enough opinion to hold, and were it not said in the context of the Iraq war I'd see nothing to disagree with. But used here it comes across as accepting the right's framing the war in Iraq as a war on terrorism. It plays right into their spin: "liberals oppose the war because they're soft on terrorists." Do you actually believe that this war is about fighting terrorism?
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:03 AM on July 26, 2006


I didn't get that spitting mad, really. Forgive me, kind sir. GS, you just seemed to be following the line that "Liberals must believe THIS to be TRUE liberals!", when any definition of liberal generally includes the idea of "plurality" and "open minded" and "free thinking".

I've never heard anyone suggest that terrorism is not worth fighting.

And for my part, I've never known anyone to be opposed to the war only because Iraq had nothing to do with Islamic terrorism. There are dozens of reasons to be opposed to what's going on at the moment.

Let's get pissed off a bit at the next guy for not being perfectly equally accomodating to every shade of the war opposition rainbow.

I got pissed off for the exact reasons you're talking about, quite unimportant. We need, to borrow another crappy Marxist term, solidarity. Inclusiveness. I'm not saying "pure pacifism" is a better reason than any other, I'm just saying the "pure pacifists" are on the same side as GS, even if they aren't as ideologically pure as his specified reason why "Liberals oppose the war".
posted by Jimbob at 12:09 AM on July 26, 2006


After all, US foreign policy would be more hawkish, not less, if decisions about war and peace were left up to members of the armed forces.

This is so true. I remember back in '02-03 when Colin Powell was trying to get us to invade Iraq. Luckily the civilian leaders llike Bush, Rumsfeld, et. all, with less active military backgrounds were able to hold him back or things could have turned ugly.
posted by justkevin at 6:21 AM on July 26, 2006


"US foreign policy would be more hawkish, not less, if decisions about war and peace were left up to members of the armed forces."

Wesley Clark?
posted by klangklangston at 6:50 AM on July 26, 2006


Clinton's draft dodging made him unpatriotic and unfit to run the military.

Bush's, and Cheney's, and Bolton's, et al draft dodging instead, mysteriously makes them awesome military leaders

quotes of the day:

"I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy" -- Bolton

"I had other priorities in the '60s than military service." -- Cheney

one wonders if the two boys who went to Vietnam in Bolton's and Cheney's place wanted to die, or if they had other priorities, too. maybe, instead, those American corpses that have come back from Iraq really did have a death wish, unlike young Bolton. sucks for them I guess, eh Ambassador?

this is a old debate, but it's always fun to hear the chicken noises from the OMFGATTQIRAQ trantrum-prone children
posted by matteo at 6:56 AM on July 26, 2006


Re: Jeff Jacoby, "Chicken" is a fine start, but "hawk" would not be my preferred second half of the appellation.
posted by stenseng


Great! I had to see it once more.

How to win the war on terror?

Quit being scared chickensh*ts!

Next!
posted by nofundy at 7:03 AM on July 26, 2006


From Greenwald:
There is nothing courageous or strong about wanting to send other people to war or to keep them in wars that have already been started.
So true. It's really annoying to hear the constant equating of warmonger with warrior.

matteo wrote:
one wonders if the two boys who went to Vietnam in Bolton's and Cheney's place wanted to die, or if they had other priorities, too.
Yup, I did. Too bad for me that I didn't have their connections.

I read Jacoby's bullshit column when it came out, hoping he'd finally own up to being wrong. Silly me.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:27 AM on July 26, 2006


Boo hoo, we questioned your military record. Aren't we mean.

Hey, thousands of dead American soldiers in Iraq. Tens -- if not hundreds -- of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians. Hey, civil war in Iraq. Hey, no weapons of mass destruction. Hey, no ties to 911. Hey, terrorist cells are flourishing as a result of this war, so the world is now less, rather than more, safe as a result of this illegal war built on lies.

We impugn you for supporting this war. You fucked up the world with the war. Take your medicine. You're lucky "chickenhawk" is the worst we're calling you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:31 AM on July 26, 2006


Some combat veterans display great sagacity when it comes to matters of state and strategy. Some display none at all. General George B. McLellan had a distinguished military career, eventually rising to general in chief of the Union armies; Abraham Lincoln served but a few weeks in a militia unit that saw no action. Whose wisdom better served the nation -- the military man who was hypercautious about sending men into battle, or the ``chicken hawk" president who pressed aggressively for military action?

Civil War buffs help me out: wasn't McLellan's reluctance to field troops because he was at heart a Confederate sympathizer?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:45 AM on July 26, 2006


Yep, "chickenhawk" is an unfair term...

...is much closer.
posted by wendell at 9:51 AM on July 26, 2006


Greenwald is (slightly) less interesting these days than when he first broke out (oh man that 'authoritarian cultists' post is a classic, for succinctness and not novelty but oh man), I think, in part because his comment-audience of spluttering buffoons pushes him to greater rhetorical intemperance. But he's one of the best in the blogosphere, no question.

Writing about the 'fantasy ideologies' at play in contemporary politics home and abroad (very good article here clarifying the term) seems most on the mark of all punditdom. Tom Frank is a good place to get a bracing dose - see What's the Matter With Kansas? for a concise version of the 'certain ideologies are pathological fantasies' argument, complete with lots of on-the-ground journalism re: contemporary backlash conservatism.
posted by waxbanks at 10:45 AM on July 26, 2006


in part because his comment-audience of spluttering buffoons

So, you've posted there?
posted by nofundy at 11:01 AM on July 26, 2006


Civil War buffs help me out: wasn't McLellan's reluctance to field troops because he was at heart a Confederate sympathizer?

There are plenty of grounds on which to critique McLellan, but this isn't one of them. Sounds like something that was levelled at him in 1864 when he ran as a Democrat against Lincoln (R) in the national election, and almost won.

His "problem" was that he totally underestimated the capabilities of the Confederate military, and hence didn't take any chances with his troops. He thought he could somehow take Richmond without losing any of them. And eventually, he was fired.

Lincoln had a string of bad generals for roughly the first half of the Civil War.
posted by bardic at 11:43 AM on July 26, 2006


McLellan was excellent at training and drilling soldiers, and he was very popular with the troops.

He actually overestimated the capabilities and size of the Confederate army. He was deterred from attacking Confederate positions in northern Virginia because the Confederate built fake cannons out of logs, and he was deterred from attacking during the Peninsula Campaign because the Confederates marched a bunch of soldiers in a circle and he thought they outnumbered him. (He significantly outnumbered the Confederates, but held off from attacking and demanded reinforcements, prompting Lincoln to say, "If McClellan doesn't want to use the army, I'd like to borrow it for a while.") McLellan was a War Democrat, but he was the Democratic Party's candidate in 1864 on the party's peace platform. More on McLellan.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:33 PM on July 26, 2006


Eisenhower anyone?
posted by longbaugh at 12:35 PM on July 26, 2006


“After all, US foreign policy would be more hawkish, not less, if decisions about war and peace were left up to members of the armed forces. Soldiers tend to be politically conservative, hard-nosed about national security, and confident that American arms make the world safer and freer.”

Strangely despite this, they wish to watch their children grow up instead of being as willing to engage in a war that doesn’t directly impact the country’s interests as a businessman who stands to profit but doesn’t serve. Weird.
Easily one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read (and I’m a conservative, hard nose).

I particularly like:
“On the question of Iraq -- stay-the-course or bring-the-troops-home? -- I would be willing to trust their judgment.”
and
“Some combat veterans display great sagacity when it comes to matters of state and strategy. Some display none at all.”

“Although there is no formal definition for it, the "chicken hawk" criticism is not typically made against someone who merely (a) advocates a war but (b) will not fight in that war and/or has never fought in any war (although, admittedly, there are those who mis-use the term that way).
Actually, I believe that a majority of the times when the term is used on Metafilter and in other forums and blogs, the meaning is pretty much exactly what Greenwald indicates it doesn't mean. His admits that there are some who use it that way, but I would say most do.”

I’d agree, but I don’t think that’s invalid either. Someone who advocates was should be willing to serve if otherwise unable and should serve in some other capacity whether that be volunteering a few times a week at a VA hospital or helping some folks down at the DAV, whatever.
Unfortunately it’s the tough guy stuff chickenhawks want by seeking to emulate, at least outwardly, courage under adversity. Warfighting breeds a ruthlessness in action, a finality that some folks find dramatic and bold. This can be mistaken for righteousness and a willingness to engage in it. That I wouldn’t hesitate to kill someone who, for example, threatened my family, and to some extent my country, does not impart a virtue in such action that I’d seek situations in which to prove it. On any level, national, organizational, or personal - I don’t care if someone calls me unpatriotic and such. In real life encounters you keep that chip on your shoulder long enough and someone will knock it off no matter how bad ass you are.
The advantage of being a chickenhawk is that you never actually are in real life adversity, you have the trappings and drama of courage without the substance. War itself is a means to an end, and being pro-war is no more virtuous than being pro-screwdriver or pro-wrench. There is nothing heroic or courageous about advocating for war. It’s a position like any other, with no inherent value beyond the ethic and reasonableness of the position and can be debated on those terms. Chickenhawks deserve the condemnation they get because they support war as an end, not as a means to acheive certain ends. Debate about the validity of those ends is something those kinds of people do not want.
It’s the same thinking that makes John Wayne a heroic tough guy.
Narrating a tribute to Chesty Puller isn’t the same as being Chesty Puller. (I mean if we’re talking tough guy actors: Audie Murphy, but I digress)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:34 PM on July 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


"Are You a 'Chicken Hawk'?"

The better hed would have been, "Is Jeff Jacoby a 'flaming asshole'?"
posted by blucevalo at 2:40 PM on July 26, 2006


Name calling, as usual, the backbone of political debate.
posted by dreamsign at 5:06 PM on July 26, 2006


At least he has a backbone.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:51 PM on July 28, 2006


I've heard Democrats are growing backbones from stem cells. No wonder God hates them.
posted by homunculus at 7:43 PM on July 28, 2006


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