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August 9, 2007 [LINK / comment]
The "chicken hawk" canard
I recently came across the Operation Yellow Elephant blog, whose main purpose is to ridicule Republicans who support the war in Iraq but do not volunteer for military service. Lately they have been attacking Gov. Mitt Romney because his sons have not enlisted in the armed forces. They make a careful distinction between "Yellow Elephants" who are eligible to serve, versus "chicken hawks" (like me?) who are too old. I believe in a strong national defense and an unapologetic use of military force to advance American interests and ideals, when necessary, but I dislike political divisiveness and therefore refrain from gung-ho drum-beating.
This reminded me of an argument another local Republican and I had with a Democrat on July 4, 2005 in front of the Republican booth in Gypsy Hill Park. The Democrat was a veteran (Air Force, I believe) was was opposed to the war and told me that anyone without a military service record had no right to voice support for the war. I told him that such a statement was ridiculous. The other Republican, Tom Nelson, is a retired military intelligence officer who served in the Middle East and elsewhere. Unlike me, who "dropped out" of ROTC after one semester, Tom has solid military credentials and first-hand experience.
Here's the big irony: excluding civilians from decision-making on war matters is inherently anti-democratic. At the top of my War blog page, I quote former French premier Georges Clemenceau: "War is too serious a matter to entrust to military men." The "chicken hawk" label may be appropriate in some cases, but generally speaking it is basically a canard that is used to shut down honest discourse over war policy.
It was 62 years ago today that the city of Nagasaki was destroyed by a single American-made bomb. Hiroshima (bombed on August 6) probably gets ten times as much attention as Nagasaki, but there was much less difference between the respective death tolls: 78,000 versus 35,000. (Obviously, these are only rough estimates, and don't include those who eventually died of radiation sickness.) For years to come, people will continue to debate whether it was necessary or appropriate to drop the atomic bombs on Japan (see July 14), but whatever one thinks about the matter, we should all reflect on how to avoid future situations in which so many lives are sacrificed.
Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 10 Aug 2007, 2: 23 PM
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