I usually try to avoid discussing personalities in my blog and limit my musings to issues, but this time I’m going to make an exception. There is one particular class of people that really burns my ass, namely chicken-hawks.
What are chicken-hawks? Chicken-hawks are basically cowards who manipulate others to fight their battles. The worst of these are politicians who never served in the armed forces and know nothing about the realities of war, but advocate that our country must go to war for whatever reason (usually for glory or profit or both) and leave it to others to fight their wars. It’s especially easy now to avoid serving in the armed forces as there is no draft and we have a large, voluntary, professional (mercenary) military with large voluntary reserves that can be called on when the war is too much for the regulars.
Very few of the people we choose to lead our country have ever served in the military and fewer still ever engaged in combat or witnessed the slaughter first hand. Yet many of these are the first ones to goad the people into war, claiming that it’s absolutely necessary for our national security (which is usually bullshit). And when the war actually starts, they stand back out of harm’s way, wave the flag and cheer like spectators at a sporting event. (I sometimes think that war is actually perceived by the chicken-hawks as a spectator sport – and a profitable one at that.)
Now there is nothing new about this. It’s been going on as long as there have been cowards in the human species, which is to say, forever. So why am I bringing it up now? I’m bringing it up now because the biggest chicken-hawk of all who calls himself POTUS just hired another chicken-hawk, John Bolton (one of the worst) to be his national security advisor replacing a combat seasoned veteran who at least provided a modicum of sanity to Trump’s ravings.
Now let’s look at the track record of the chicken-hawks. Five of the the last six presidents (Reagan, G. W. Bush, Clinton, Obama and Trump) were all chicken-hawks. Ronald Reagan served in the Army but never went into combat. Instead he served as a public relations officer and later was assigned to the Army’s first motion picture unit. As president, Reagan dragged us into war in Lebanon, Grenada, Libya, a covert war in Afghanistan (ostensibly to defeat the Russians who were supporting a democratically elected president who, in turn, was attempting to protect the government against the Taliban insurrection) and provided logistical support to the Contras who were attempting to topple the government in Nicaragua. Bill Clinton, who avoided the draft and the military entirely escalated the war in Afghanistan and ordered bombing campaigns in Bosnia/Herzegovina, Haiti and Sudan. George W. Bush who avoided the draft by joining the Texas Air National Guard (and later went AWOL1) further escalated the war in Afghanistan after 9/11 (which subsequently spilled over the border into Pakistan) and later invaded Iraq claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. (This war was cheered on by Dick Cheney, who also avoided the draft, and other staff members including Condoleeza Rice). Obama also never served in the military but, in addition to continuing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, ordered bombing campaigns in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria. Donald Trump who, as we all know, avoided the draft because of bone spurs in his foot, is now continuing all of the above wars and is further advocating bombing Iran and North Korea (although we have at least a temporary detente with Kim Jong-un). In every case, the threat to U.S. national security was greatly exaggerated to justify military involvement.
And what have these wars cost?2 It is a fundamental problem that we only concern ourselves with the cost to the U.S. Since 2001 the cost to the U.S. is estimated somewhere around $5 trillion not including the regular defense department budget, projected future veterans care and accrued interest on the war expenditures (which were borrowed funds) and upwards of 8,000 military casualties (plus untold thousands wounded and others suffering from PTSD). But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What about those who were on the other side in our wars? Victims in these wars (combatants and non-combatants combined) are estimated somewhere between 5 and 10 million people dead. The number of people who have been displaced from their homes and the amount of infrastructure and property damage are astronomical. We can’t even begin to estimate the cost of restoring the countries we have bombed to the state they were in prior to these wars. And that doesn’t begin to consider the damage to our planet’s environment and the effects of war on global warming.)
All of these wars were led (and cheered) by chicken-hawks. And now we have another chicken-hawk as president3 who has just hired another chicken-hawk as his national security advisor. Given the history of chicken-hawk leaders, the willingness of our Congress (the majority of whom are also chicken-hawks) and the people who elect them to go along with the spectacle of never ending war, it bodes ill for our future and that of our children.
1 No AWOL charges were ever filed against Bush, but he missed his annual physical and his pilot status was revoked. He also missed numerous obligatory training sessions in the 1972-73 time frame but was nevertheless granted an honorable discharge from the Air National Guard – six months before the end of his obligated service. His father was chairman of the Republican National Committee at the time.
2 The cost estimates in the table were compiled in a study conducted at the Brown University in Providence, RI and presented in Politifact.
3 “I’m good at war,” Trump told an Iowa rally in 2015. “I’ve had a lot of wars of my own. I’m really good at war. I love war in a certain way, but only when we win.” Spoken like a true hero – with 5 draft deferments during the Vietnam war.