- tend to advocate, or are fervent supporters of those who advocate, military solutions to political problems, and
- personally declined to take advantage of a significant opportunity to serve in uniform during wartime.
"Some individuals," it continues, "may qualify more for their political associations than for any demonstrated personal tendency towards bellicosity. Some women may be included for exceptional bellicosity."
The Online Urban Dictionary defines a chickenhawk as "A politician or other person who promotes war without having had any personal experience of it; especially those who have avoided the experience." Another reference to chickenhawks is that "the closest they have come to a tank is a think-tank."
The term 'chickenhawk' is thought to have been coined by Ralph Nader.
"The term '101st Keyboard Brigade' mocks not those who merely support wars, but who strut around as though their support for the war means that they are fighting it, and who consequently apply the warrior attributes to themselves (and the coward/deserter attributes to war opponents)," Glenn Greenwald wrote July 25, 2006, in his Unclaimed Territory Blogspot.
"A 'chicken hawk' is one who strikes the pose of a warrior, who imputes the personal courage of a soldier in combat to themselves by virtue of the fact that they are in favor of sending that soldier off to war, or who parades around with the pretense of personal courage and resolve while assuming none of the risks. And a 'chicken hawk' will, conversely, attempt to depict those who oppose such wars as being weak, spineless and cowardly even though the war opponents are not seeking to avoid any personal risk to themselves, but instead, are arguing against subjecting their fellow citizens to what they perceive are unnecessary dangers," Greenwald wrote.
"A 'chicken hawk' is one who fails to recognize these logical principles by desperately equating advocacy of wars with fighting a war itself, or opposition to wars with running away from risks. 'Chicken hawks' are not those who simply urge war without fighting in it, but who urge war and then pretend that doing so makes them courageous, powerful and strong. They are the ones who use dichotomies such as strong/weak, resolute/spineless, and courageous/cowardly to describe not those who fight or run away from wars, but those who encourage or oppose wars from a safe distance," Greenwald wrote.
Senator Lautenberg speaks out
In response to the recent rhetoric regarding presidential candidate Senator John Forbes Kerry's military service during the Vietnam War, as well as that previously of Max Cleland, the medals which Kerry earned, comments made by Karen Hughes regarding the Sunday, April 25, 2004, March for Women's Lives, and the pre-Operation Iraqi Freedom war planning and subsequent actions of President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and other members of the Bush administration, on April 28, 2004, World War II veteran Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) made a lengthy speech in the U.S. Senate entitled "An Illustrated Guide to Chickenhawks." As reported by Carl Hulse in the April 29, 2004, edition of the New York Times, Lautenberg, "In a take-no-prisoners display, ... lashed out at Republicans critical of Mr. Kerry, calling them chickenhawks."
- "Chickenhawks: they shriek like a hawk but they have the backbone of a chicken," Mr. Lautenberg said. "We know who the chickenhawks are. They talk tough on national defense and military issues and cast aspersions on others. When it was their turn to serve, where were they? A-W-O-L, that's where. A-W-O-L."
Lautenberg used a colorful poster of a chicken in full-dress uniform, complete with a chestful of medals, to illustrate and define precisely what a "chickenhawk" is. The article contains both a picture of the Senator with his poster and a link to a lengthy video of Lautenberg's presentation in the Senate. An "enlargeable" copy of the poster, as well as an audio transcript of his speech is available on Lautenberg's web site.
CBS News' Dick Meyer asks in the April 30, 2004, "The Gall Of The Chickenhawks"
- "What kind of absurd political twilight zone is it where George Bush and Dick Cheney can make John Kerry look like an unpatriotic chicken by focusing attention on his combat duty in Vietnam?
- "It's a doublethink world of issues-ephemera, spin, and manipulated perceptions that Bush's technicians have mastered and that we the media and we the people aid and abet: Campaign 2004, a truth odyssey.
- "What is the word that has more gall than gall? Nerve? Cheek, chutzpah conceit, arrogance, condescension? You name it -- the squadron of chickenhawks that steers both the campaign and government of President Bush's have pots of it. Where do these people come off impugning John Kerry's Vietnam era guts and patriotism? John McCain, Colin L. Powell, Tom Ridge or Chuck Hagel might have some moral standing, but not these chickenhawks.
- "This whole chickenhawk issue has become sort of politically incorrect, in a Republican sort of way. It's considered a rude charge. I don't buy that.
- "John Kerry's 'national security identity' (I use this phrase because that is how campaign operators think, they are trying to forge perceptions of his character, record and patriotism) has been sliced bloody by the orchestrated switchblades of Bush's surrogates this past week. So it is hardly irrelevant that John Kerry fought in Vietnam and George Bush didn't.
- "The list of Bush supporter's in government, in the campaign and in the ideas industry who also had no military service at all, not just no combat, is also relevant: Karen Hughes, Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, I. Lewis Libby, William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, and Tom DeLay. Oh yeah, and Dick Cheney.
- "Make no mistake: the hubbub about Kerry's national security identity was a precision strike."
- "Conservatives are usually wary of ideas and intellectualism in statecraft and politics. Not these conservatives. And for most of them, unlike for many generations of government leaders charged with national defense, their experience didn't include military experience.
- "But these people are, to my bewilderment, skilled at tearing down people who have made that sacrifice. They did it to Max Cleland, an ousted senator from Georgia who suffered awful wounds in Vietnam. They did it to John McCain in 2000. They're trying to do it to Kerry.
- "What gall."
Related exterior articles
- John Forbes Kerry's military service for more details.
- A link to the "Chickenhawk Database" is now available on the Ocean County (NJ) Democrat web site.
- Donna De La Cruz, "Lautenberg calls Cheney 'lead chickenhawk'," AP, April 28, 2004.
- "Defending Kerry, senator blasts 'chickenhawks'. Lautenberg criticizes Cheney for questioning record," CNN, April 28, 2004.
- Katherine Q. Seelye, "Cheney's Five Draft Deferments During the Vietnam Era Emerge as a Campaign Issue," New York Times, May 1, 2004.
On April 29, 2004, blogger Matt Yglesias published a Chickenhawk "Ornithology": "Since this came up on the radio," he says, "it's worth trying to discuss with some precision and less rancor. What is a chickenhawk? There are several different things that could plausibly be taken to mean.
- "First you've got the straw-man chickenhawk. This would be the theory that it is wrong to advocate a war if you have never served either in the military or perhaps in an actual war. This is a very silly position to have. Among other things, since most Americans have never been in the military (just combine the people who are currently over 18 with the women who were not allowed to serve back when they were young enough and you have an awfully large slice of the population) it would follow from this that the country may never fight a war.
- "Then you've got the present-day chickenhawk. This would be an able-bodied person who is of roughly military age (not sure exactly what this is -- 17 or 18 to something between 25 and 30 I guess) and who favors some war, but declined to volunteer to fight in it. Now there are various degrees of chickenhawkery here, according to how you would behave under alternate scenarios, to which I think it's appropriate to have different responses. The most important question is probably this. Suppose the president said to you, 'Sure Citizen X, I'd be happy to invade Nation Y, but if and only if you volunteer for service in the conflict.'
- "Then you've got your 'Vietnam-era chickenhawks.' These are people who, during an era of conscription, avoided military service in a war they nonetheless supported. There is, of course, a class edge to this. Obtaining educational deferments and National Guard slots was much easier to do if you were relatively well off. Thus, the position of your average campus chickenhawk (see, e.g., Cheney, Dick) was that we ought to fight this war, and, indeed, people ought to be coerced into fighting this war, but my well-born friends and I ought not to be coerced and, indeed, ought not to fight at all. I think it's obvious what's morally problematic about this stance. Does it disqualify you from future political service all on its own? No, but it speaks to character in a powerful way."
Resources and articles
Related SourceWatch articles
- Bush administration
- draft evasion
- Exit Strategy from Iraq
- Selective Service System
- The Cheney-Rumsfeld Cabal Deception
Profiles / Data files
- Chickenhawk in the dKosopedia.
- "Who served in the military?," awolbush.com.
- New Hampshire Gazette: Chickenhawk Database being relocated to new site. See archived material stored by the Wayback Machine.
- "The Chickenhawks," Liberals Like Christ Blog.
- Republican Chickenhawk Hall of Fame (archived).
- Republican Chickenhawks Cards.
- "Flight of the Chickenhawks," TooStupidToBePresident (humorous Shockwave animation featuring a number of prominent chickenhawks).
- Chickenhawks Hall of Shame flash video.
- Justin Raimondo, "Attack of the Chicken-Hawks. How come the military is antiwar, and the policy wonks want blood? It's very simple…," antiwar.com, August 2, 2002.
- Terry M. Neal, "Chickenhawk Vs. Chicken Little. Many Iraq Hawks Have Never Seen Military Service," Washington Post, September 6, 2002.
- John Sugg, "Roast the chicken hawks", San Francisco Chronicle, October 8, 2002.
- Ben Tripp, "A Bird Lover's Guide to Chickenhawks or Chickenhawk a la Mode," CounterPunch, October 15, 2002.
- "Chickenhawk Politics," The Nation Editorial, October 17, 2002.
- Christopher Hitchens, "'Armchair General'. The ugly idea that non-soldiers have less right to argue for war," Slate, November 11, 2002.
- Jeff Hauser, "Chickenhawk, Part 118.2," Pandagon, November 18, 2002.
- Tom Stephens, "Chickenhawk Circle of Hell. The Verdict of History," CounterPunch, March 29, 2003.
- Eric Alterman, Why Chickenhawks Matter, TheNation, November 13, 2003.
- David B. Livingstone, "A Chickenhawk Thanksgiving in Baghdad," AlterNet, November 28, 2003.
- "Search Results for 'George W. Bush' chickenhawk, bickner.net, March 9, 2004. (83 results).
- Jim Lobe, "Chickenhawk Groupthink?" Inter Press Service (Common Dreams), May 12, 2004.
- Max Blumenthal, "Generation Chickenhawk," The Nation, June 28, 2005.
- Rich Lowry, "'Chicken-Hawk!' Same old ad hominem," National Review Online, August 26, 2005.
- Aaron Kinney, "Chickenhawk: The other right meat," War Room / Salon, August 26, 2005.
- Jeff Jacoby, Opinion: "Are you a 'chicken hawk?'" Boston Globe, July 23, 2006.
- Glenn Greenwald, "What makes someone a 'chicken hawk'?" Unclaimed Territory Blogspot, July 25, 2006.
- Glenn Greenwald, "ATTENTION: War supporters - your country needs you. (updated below - updated again - updated again with responses)," Unclaimed Territory Blogspot, January 8, 2007.
- Taylor Marsh, "Chickenhawk Cheerleaders Unite!" TaylorMarsh.com, May 4, 2007. See the full signature list of bloggers and others supporting the cheerleader approach to the Iraq war at WeWinTheyLose.com.
- Max Blumenthal, "Generation Chickenhawk: With The College Republicans," YouTube, July 19, 2007. re College Republican National Convention