Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Chickenhawks: What Makes Them Tick

Whatever you want to call them — Chickenhawks, Keyboard Warriors, the Chairborne Division — this species has been with us for a long time.

This article by Glenn Greenwald offers a glimpse into that pitiful mindset. There's nothing new about today’s armchair warrior who bravely fights Evil and Terror from behind his computer console. In 1776 Adam Smith wrote:

“In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them, scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies . . . .
They are commonly dissatisfied with the return of peace, which puts an end to their amusement, and to a thousand visionary hopes of conquest and national glory from a longer continuance of the war.”

Now fast forward to 1964 for this Harper’s Magazine essay: “The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms — he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point.”

And now we arrive at the 21st century for this New Yorker description of Joe Lieberman: “A few years ago, I was in a movie theatre in Washington when I noticed Lieberman and his wife…The film was ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ in which Owen Wilson plays a U.S. pilot shot down in Bosnia. Whenever the American military scored an onscreen hit, Lieberman pumped his fist and said, 'Yeah!' and 'All right!'"

It’s hard to picture that mealy-mouthed whiny-voiced little dweeb pumping his fist and yelling, but anyway…

As Greenwald says: “Far from being ‘psychologically exhausting,’ the Wars against the Most-Evil-Enemies-Ever that take place inside the head of the Mark Steyns and Joe Liebermans are exhilarating and fun, and they provide the weak, purposeless and powerless with their only opportunity to feel strong, purposeful and powerful.”

He also says: “This is why our nation's faux-warriors can never be reasoned with. It's why their greatest fear is having the Threats from Our Enemies be put into rational perspective, alongside all the other garden-variety manageable threats we face. To argue that they are exaggerating and melodramatizing the Enemy and the threat is to take away from them that which is most personally important to them.”

Kind of sad, isn't it. If you're a veteran and/or have lost family members or friends in one of America’s elective wars, there's a natural tendency to hate these sheltered keyboard know-it-alls. But maybe we should feel sorry for them instead.


cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger libhom said...

Our nation's obsession with spectator sports socializes men to feel like they are powerful and strong by watching and cheering for powerful and strong men. Some people respond very strongly to socialization.

February 19, 2008 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

So true. If you've been in a war, you're never in a hurry to wish it on other people.

February 19, 2008 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Libhom: That's a good analogy; a lot of people actually think of the Iraqi war as a sport and they're cheering for their team. I've seen rightwing bloggers respond to the chickenhawk accusation with "oh, so you're saying I can't even cheer for my home team unless I used to play for them."

J: Absolutely. Out of the entire Project for a New American Century (PNAC), I think Rumsfeld is the only veteran in the whole group. The rest of them wouldn't know a military uniform if it fell on them.

February 19, 2008 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

I dunno Libhom, I love spectator sports like baseball, football and basketball... and I never played any of those sports in my past... but I sure don't like war.

J.Marquis astutely said "If you've been in a war, you're never in a hurry to wish it on other people." My question from that is, what about McCain? How could someone who has been involved in war to the extent that he has make a comment as he did about how the U.S. ought to stay in Iraq for years and years? I guess McCain is indeed a mutant.

February 19, 2008 at 7:23 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: McCain is hard to figure out. At least he was against torture (having been subjected to it himself), before he flipflopped and voted for it after he voted against it. All the other Republicans who were in favor of torture probably never suffered anything worse than a paper cut, or a sore shoulder from carrying their briefcase too far.

But McCain has done so much flipflopping, who knows what he really thinks, about Iraqmire or any other issue.

February 19, 2008 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger Miss Kitty said...

Libhom and J. Marquis make some good points. Many combat veterans I know don't even own firearms anymore. A retired Army LTC I know once said, "I got all that playin-with-bang-bangs shit out of my system when I was in the Army."

Joe Lieberman? Ugh, that guy.

February 20, 2008 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Perhaps we should feel sorry for them, but personally, I certainly don't. Not when the evidence continues to pile up against their self-contained world view. Some sheltered 18-year old kid, sure, I could cut him some slack. Lieberman and Wolfowitz and 99% of the wingnut talking hairpieces and bloggers? Fuck no.

February 20, 2008 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Miss Kitty: That makes sense, what your retired Army friend says. And I think Lieberman is the most contemptible person out there, partly because he tries to disguise himself as a Democrat.

Randal: I sure don't feel sorry for any of them, even if they're teenagers (as some of these rightwing bloggers are). If they're old enough to know everything and hate everyone who disagrees with them, then they're too old to be cut any slack.

February 20, 2008 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

The horror of war is a lesson lost on participants who NEED to claim a heroic identity. Some swiftboater types plunked a typewriter behind the lines but describe their dreamed of combat experiences, in full color, to their flag waving, drooling voyeuristic audiences. Its funny how far chickenhawks will go to discredit those who exhibit character, values, and courage.

The greatest courage is that of those who stand up and say NO - NO More Ever Again. The strongest men and women I know are dealing with a conflict between what they were indoctrinated to do without question but ended up questioning. Most ended up deciding for themselves.

Chickenhawks enjoy being in charge and/or getting off on the whole war-thing as long as they are not called upon to really do their part. They make and support wars to profit personally, or financially, but NEVER, NEVER want to march their pinkie toes onto the killing fields.

I don't like Chickenhawks much.

February 22, 2008 at 7:12 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

KWW: Great rant. I don't like them much either. That linked article was really surprising. I had no idea the same chickenhawk personality was written about in the 1700s and again in the early 1960s. They didn't use the term chickenhawk, but it's the same personality type. I guess that type of person has always been with us.

February 22, 2008 at 7:29 PM  

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