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Chicken Hawks: All Talk and No Action

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By A. Peter Bailey –

The shrillest chicken hawk supporters of United States military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan repeatedly insist that the country’s national security is at stake, that anyone who opposes these military adventures is literally putting everyone in the country in danger. Which, in my opinion, raises a very obvious question.

If the desk-bound warriors sincerely believe that the nation’s national security is at stake, why aren’t they or their children or other close relatives in the military where they can directly confront the enemy who they insist threatens the system from which they have reaped huge financial benefits? It would seem that the most productive way to support the troops fighting in the two wars is to join them in the trenches instead of blissfully preparing to celebrate upcoming holidays.

If all the chest-beaters and their viewers, listeners, and readers would do that there would be no need to continue sending the children of low-income Black, Latino and White families on 3-5 tours of duty in the combat zone. Because the chicken hawks talk the talk, but won’t walk the walk, there is basically an unofficial draft in place that sends youngsters on repeated tours of combat duty, while their offspring are attending college, partying in Las Vegas or Florida or launching potentially lucrative careers.

The chicken hawks pontificate on television and radio programs and in newspapers and magazines about what “we” must do to stop the enemy. “We” must fight for total victory; “We” must be willing to fight however long to defend national security; “We” can’t talk to terrorists; “We” must show AL Qaeda who’s boss; “We” must destroy the Taliban; “We” should not set any time table about leaving Afghanistan; “We” conducted a successful surge in Iraq; “We” don’t take no stuff from nobody. Sometimes such trash-talking is accompanied by the chicken hawk slamming a fist on his desk or sternly pointing a finger at anyone who dares to challenge his flagrant hypocrisy.

Much more often than not, the most ferocious we-spouters are people who managed to avoid being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, another military adventure they insisted involved concerns about national security. General William Westmoreland, former commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, has been quoted as saying that “the military don’t start wars. Politicians start wars.” I would say that politicians and trash-talking radio and television talk show chicken hawks and their counterparts on newspaper op-ed pages start wars, wars in which they have absolutely no intention to fight or send their children and grandchildren to fight in.

Personally, I will believe that the national security of the U.S. is at stake when I see the chicken hawks or their children in the trenches in Iraq and Afghanistan. Journalist/Lecturer A. Peter Bailey, a former associate editor of Ebony, is currently editor of Vital Issues: The Journal of African American Speeches. He can be reached at apeterb@verizon.net.

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