Ah, Chickenhawks…

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Quite a few blogs, left and right, are having the great “chickenhawk” debate again. This argument always gets pecked over every week or so, with the idea being that war supporters are horrible hypocrites if they don’t immediately sign up for the Army and ship themselves off to Iraq. Now clearly that argument’s wrong, and a quick analogy makes that clear. I—like many other liberals—think this country needs higher tax rates than we currently have, for a variety of reasons, even though those higher rates will certainly affect me much less heavily than they will others. But for fairly good reason no one claims that only those making over $200,000 are allowed to support higher taxes on the wealthy. It’s a stupid argument.

Also annoying is the claim that Americans are kept free and safe only because there are U.S. soldiers are out there risking their lives in combat. Presumably this line is intended to make non-military war critics feel guilty and stop their carping. Well, in many ways the claim true, but then again, we can also afford to have the largest military on earth because Americans across the country are working hard and paying taxes. We’re all a community and dependent on each other, and that’s just the way the world works. It’s fine to be grateful; but it’s a bit silly to insinuate that a person has no right to criticize the military just because he’s some slouch in an office cubicle.

Back to the chickenhawk argument. It’s true that the Young Republicans and other junior war-supporters are too scared to sign up for war in Iraq. Rightly so, I am too! That doesn’t make them hypocrites. What it does signal, though, is that the war in Iraq just isn’t all that important to these people. If there actually was a conflict in which the fate of the United States—or the fate of freedom itself!—hung in the balance, and we didn’t have enough soldiers to fight it, then we’d obviously see a lot of people who thought the war was really and truly critical pouring into recruitment offices. How could they not? But if you don’t think this Iraq war—a war for which we may not have enough soldiers to win—is all that crucial in the grand scheme of things, then you won’t sign up. Simple as that. The Young Republicans are implicitly suggesting that if we fail in Iraq for lack of troops and have to leave, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Well, okay then. In many ways I agree; I just wish they’d be more open about it.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate