The antiwar puke's chickenhawk argument

Rich Lowry:

Invariably, whenever columnists like myself write in support of the Iraq war without having served in the military there, letters flood in deriding us as “chicken hawks.” How can writers support the war without fighting in it themselves? these letter writers ask, although usually not so politely.

The Cindy Sheehan controversy has revived the long-running chicken-hawk argument, since so much of her appeal has to do with her unique standing to pronounce on the war given the sacrifice of her son. Amazingly, after three years, President Bush critics still write chicken-hawk letters as if they have arrived at something clever and cutting, when they are really rehashing a bottom-of-the-barrel ad hominem argument. The chicken-hawk line is the “Oh, yeah? Your mama!” of antiwar arguments.

Its logic, if taken seriously, actually would boost the hawks. If only members of the military — who are overwhelmingly conservative — were considered competent to decide the nation’s posture on matters of war and peace, we would have an even more forward-leaning foreign policy. I’m comfortable letting the 82nd Airborne decide what we do about anti-American rogue states. Are opponents of the war? I’m guessing that even if you let only mothers of fallen soldiers in Iraq direct our Iraq policy, the result would be stay-the-course rather than the immediate pullout favored by Sheehan.

The chicken-hawk argument is nakedly partisan. During the Kosovo war waged by Bill Clinton and supported by Democrats in 1999, a cry didn’t go up from the Left that no one could support the war unless they were willing to strap themselves into B-2 bombers for the 33-hour ride from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to Belgrade and back to degrade Serbian infrastructure.
It is basically a patriotism challenged argument. In past wars, World War II, being an obvious example, it was patriotic to support the war. The chickenhawk argument is an attempt to suppress patriotism of non veterans. However, If you argued the reverse, i.e. you cannot oppose the war unless you are a veteran, you can immediately see the fallacy of their "logic." The patriotism phobia of the left is an acknowledgment of the weakness of their case.

If you use the example of a sports fan, would you say only players and former players can support a team?

As a former Marine, I was always appreciative of the support of people who did not serve. I also had a low regard for the antiwar pukes who were rooting for the enemy.


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