« Remembering 9/11 | Main | Hand Reporting Belatedly To Deck »

September 11, 2006

Comments

Steward: So bad that you, Andrew, Slarti, Anarch all had to reply and Hilzoy practically wrote an essay to rebut it.

Well, that's us told.

It's a slow day, but I promise not to do it again.

Until next time, that is.

Just a couple of points.

Colorado is an odd place politically. True, Boulder proper is traditionally liberal. It is referred to as the People's Republic of Boulder by Colorado Republicans, who think that local littering ordinances are the second coming of Ho Chi Minh. However, the further you get away from Gary Farber's apartment into the rural area surrounding the town, things might become rather conservative.

Jefferson County (home of Columbine High School, one of the best high schools in the Nation, by the way, if you ignore the explosions), judging by local elections over the past 30 years, is a hotbed of far-Right nutcase anti-government hatred. Though I notice that once elected the nuts on the Right like their cushy offices up at the Taj Mahal County Building in Golden. Douglas County is very conservative, too. They hates their taxes and they loves their guns, though everyone seems pretty nice at the grocery store.

Then we have Colorado Springs. My favorite story from there (or nearby) is after the wackos got themselves elected on an all-gun, all-God, no-tax platform, some wag (of indeterminate political persuasion) started showing up at City Council meetings and sat in the gallery fiddling with a high-powered rifle. Didn't take long for the gun-lovers on the high chairs to pass a motion outlawing guns being in THEIR vicinity, which seems a little chickenhawky, if you'll pardon the term.

Speaking of which, I don't want the Bush twins in the Iraqi meat grinder. I do harbor rhetorical fantasies of Lucian Goldberg's kid or say, Erick at Redstate, doing some frontline duty in Falluja (sp?), but that has something to do with finding out what brand of diapers machismo tough talkers would prefer when their bowels liquify. It's kind of a Kimberly-Clark marketing survey.

And I can imagine, in my lesser moments, Dick Cheney, outfitted in a clearly marked uniform, swinging by a harness under the arms from a very tall crane every night in the center of Baghdad with a large spotlight trained on him, but only as a tourist attraction.

Beyond those feeble fantasies, I hope the U.S. Armed Forces keeps their ban on openly gay and lesbian folks intact, to spare as many people as possible from this ill-advised meatgrinder. I know Jes won't like that, but I make up for it by also hoping EVERYONE somehow becomes openly gay and lesbian to spare EVERYONE from the aforementioned meat-grinder.

Which has the advantage too of ticking off mullahs everywhere, whether they're in Tehran or Colorado Springs.

Andrew, are you going to tell us what the friggin title is from, or are you going to keep us twisting in the wind? If you're afraid that someone out there might not be ready to see the answer yet, you can post it in rot13.

Ihaven't figured out why Steward Beta's argument is so bad. Horribly embarrassing for me, I'm sure, but I haven't. I'm not interested in debating it and plan to vacate this thread, but I read the rebuttals and while hilzoy's essay made sense, I'm still left thinking that if most people really believed this war was a war for civilization, with the same stakes as WWII, one that requires three times as many troops in Iraq as we actually have, you'd expect to see hordes of people signing up for the military. The fact that one doesn't see this suggests that, most people do not in fact think this war is as serious as WWII. One can make this argument without descending to the vulgarity of singling out a particular individual and saying "Why aren't you volunteering?", since there might be various good reasons why individuals aren't volunteering. But I'd guess that in the majority of cases people don't think this war is worth risking a bullet for, and not worth disrupting their lives over it. Quite sensible of them, really.

This is a perfect example of revealed preferences.

Jonah, Ramesh, Glenn R., the Cornerites and assorted other heroically brave typists: (a) clearly support the war, (b) clearly think its WW Whatever, a clash of civilizations, an existential threat, etc., etc., etc. ("etc."); and yet (c) fail to join the military to help the U.S. fight etc.

I can only conclude that their true preference, as revealed by their actions, is that the U.S. lose etc. and that they be slaughtered by the terrorist hordes forthwith.

As such, they are clearly loser-defeatist traitors who must be rounded up and hanged, which, while not quite the same as being slaughtered by terrorist hordes, produces the same result.

Note, I'm not advocating this, just revealing their preferences and the logical policy response.

John: I hope the U.S. Armed Forces keeps their ban on openly gay and lesbian folks intact, to spare as many people as possible from this ill-advised meatgrinder. I know Jes won't like that

You kidding? I love it. My idea of perfect equality is that the US Armed Forces extend their ban to openly heterosexual people as well as gay, lesbian, and bisexual, and ban EVERYONE from serving in the armed forces - except eunuchs and Will Turner.

(No one. He's no one. Distant cousin of my Aunt's nephew twice removed. Lovely singing voice. Eunuch.)

Ken,

Sorry, nobody had guessed in a while, so I assumed no one cared.

It's from Rocky. When Rocky goes on his first date with Adrian, it's Thanksgiving Day, and Adrian is uncomfortable and says "But it's Thanksgiving." To which Rocky replies, "Yeah, to you. But to me, it's Thursday."

Getting back on subject, today's WaPo contains a follow up article by Ricks on offical response to the Devlin report:

The U.S. commander in western Iraq said he agrees with the findings of a pessimistic classified report recently filed by his top intelligence officer but also insisted that "tremendous progress" is being made in that part of the country.

"I have seen that report and I do concur with that [intelligence] assessment," said Marine Maj. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, speaking to reporters yesterday by telephone from his headquarters near Fallujah, Iraq. He said he found "frank and candid" the analysis by Col. Pete Devlin, the Marine intelligence chief in Iraq, who concluded that prospects for securing Anbar province are dim.

Although the U.S. military can achieve tactical victories daily, the general continued, the insurgency will be "problematic" in western Iraq until comparable success is achieved politically and economically.

[...]

During a hearing on Capitol Hill on Monday, senior Pentagon official Eric S. Edelman confirmed a Washington Post article about the intelligence assessment and discussed some of its findings.

White House spokesman Tony Snow treated the Devlin report gingerly yesterday when asked about it at a news briefing. "It is conceivable that other people have differing assessments," Snow said.

In his telephone news conference, Zilmer became much more upbeat than his intelligence chief, saying he saw long-term trends as positive. "I think we are winning this war," he told reporters. "We are certainly accomplishing our mission," which he defined as developing Iraq security forces.

In a statement posted on the Web site of the U.S. military in Iraq, Zilmer said that recent news reports "fail to accurately capture the entirety and complexity of the current situation." He also said that Devlin's analysis focused on the causes of the continuing insurgency in Anbar, not on the positive news there.

Zilmer said the number of Iraqi police officers has been growing steadily, and he predicted that he will have an adequate number in the province by next year.

The 30,000 U.S. and allied troops are "stifling" the enemy in the province, Zilmer told reporters. But he would not say insurgents are being defeated. The violence won't be "solved," he said, until progress is made politically, socially and economically.

One wonders how meaningful political, social and economic progress can be achieved unless the security issues in Anbar are dealt with first.

But I'd guess that in the majority of cases people don't think this war is worth risking a bullet for, and not worth disrupting their lives over it.

In which case they should not have voted for Shrub or any other Republican.

One can make this argument without descending to the vulgarity of singling out a particular individual and saying "Why aren't you volunteering?", since there might be various good reasons why individuals aren't volunteering.

If I know that you are a Republican/Bush supporter and you look healthy and young enough, why should I not not ask you why you are not in the Military?

It ain't polite but neither is war.

If I know that you are a Republican/Bush supporter and you look healthy and young enough, why should I not not ask you why you are not in the Military?

Because double negatives are bad for your teeth.

...and gums, too. Which leads, inevitably, to bad breath.

More Troops ...New Republic via Kevin Drum

"After failing to meet its recruitment target for 2005, the Army raised the maximum age for enlistment from 35 to 40 in January — only to find it necessary to raise it to 42 in June. Basic training, which has, for decades, been an important tool for testing the mettle of recruits, has increasingly become a rubber-stamping ritual. Through the first six months of 2006, only 7.6 percent of new recruits failed basic training, down from 18.1 percent in May 2005."

Hmm, 50+ but did 15 miles in 3 hours with 30 lbs on my back today. I still don't think they would take me. Intelligence test, and personality profile. But it has crossed my mind about going to help. Less to lose than so many.

Re-enlistment">http://armsandinfluence.typepad.com/armsandinfluence/2006/09/in_the_news_as_.html">Re-enlistment Puzzle ...kingdaddy

Recruitment sucks, but reups stay high. Breaks me heart.

If they keep upping the max age, I might have to enlist. Which wouldn't do the Army a great deal of good, because my wife would kill me.

Now that's an issue I would love to see the Democrats tackle. We missed our chance to expand the force immediately after September 11, and now we're watering it down rather than admit there's a problem.

Ok, I still say this joker has gotta be DonQ using a clever alias (for those who haven't read Voice of the Whirlwind, 'Steward Beta' is the clone of a murdered war hero) but I may be wrong. Note that s/he hasn't disputed my conclusion re: his/her 'true' identity.

Regardless, standard DNFTT protocol should be exercised, as 'Etienne' doesn't appear interested in meaningful discussion (although if s/he wants to discuss VOTW, a vastly underrated work of political SF...)

matttbastard: if so, s/he is using new IP addresses.

The watering down of recruitment standards goes beyond merely raising the age cutoff for enlistment. The New Republic article Drum cites refers to this SPLC report from earlier this summer detailing the growing number of white supremecists who have infiltrated the US military:

Ten years after Pentagon leaders toughened policies on extremist activities by active duty personnel -- a move that came in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing by decorated Gulf War combat veteran Timothy McVeigh and the murder of a black couple by members of a skinhead gang in the elite 82nd Airborne Division -- large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists continue to infiltrate the ranks of the world's best-trained, best-equipped fighting force. Military recruiters and base commanders, under intense pressure from the war in Iraq to fill the ranks, often look the other way.

Neo-Nazis "stretch across all branches of service, they are linking up across the branches once they're inside, and they are hard-core," Department of Defense gang detective Scott Barfield told the Intelligence Report. "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," he added. "That's a problem."

[...]

In 1996, following a decade-long rash of cases where extremists in the military were caught diverting huge arsenals of stolen firearms and explosives to neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations, conducting guerilla training for paramilitary racist militias, and murdering non-white civilians (see timeline), the Pentagon finally launched a massive investigation and crackdown. One general ordered all 19,000 soldiers at Fort Lewis, Wash., strip-searched for extremist tattoos.
But that was peacetime. Now, with the country at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the military under increasingly intense pressure to maintain enlistment numbers, weeding out extremists is less of a priority. "Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members," said Department of Defense investigator Barfield.

"Last year, for the first time, they didn't make their recruiting goals. They don't want to start making a big deal again about neo-Nazis in the military, because then parents who are already worried about their kids signing up and dying in Iraq are going to be even more reluctant about their kids enlisting if they feel they'll be exposed to gangs and white supremacists."

Barfield, who is based at Fort Lewis, said he has identified and submitted evidence on 320 extremists there in the past year. "Only two have been discharged," he said. Barfield and other Department of Defense investigators said they recently uncovered an online network of 57 neo-Nazis who are active duty Army and Marines personnel spread across five military installations in five states -- Fort Lewis; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and Camp Pendleton, Calif. "They're communicating with each other about weapons, about recruiting, about keeping their identities secret, about organizing within the military," Barfield said. "Several of these individuals have since been deployed to combat missions in Iraq."

This story, although not directly related to lowered recruitment standards, also seems apt (apologies if the following has been previously mentioned in this forum):

U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported for Sunday editions.

The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.

[...]

Some service members who committed suicide in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for “extended deployments.”

“I can’t imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal,” said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection. “You’re creating chemically activated time bombs.”

Although Defense Department standards for enlistment disqualify recruits who suffer “persistent post-traumatic symptoms,” the military also is redeploying service members to Iraq who fit that criteria, the newspaper said.

“I’m concerned that people who are symptomatic are being sent back. That has not happened before in our country,” said Dr. Arthur S. Blank, Jr., a Yale-trained psychiatrist who helped to get post-traumatic stress disorder recognized as a diagnosis after the Vietnam War.

Hilzoy: dynamic IP's are the bane of webmasters/mistresses worldwide;-) And I really do like his/her choice of blog handle (whoever s/he is).

Hardwired was better in my opinion, no stange Aliens, no weird planets, just capitalism unleashed.

Andrew and hilzoy: I reiterate my point above -- which was subsequently endorsed by Donald Johnson and Ugh, I'm pleased to say -- which is that I think the descriptor "chickenhawk" does have merit in some cases, specifically when someone maintains that this is a Clash Of Civilizations (or something equally overblown) but is unwilling (not unable) to serve because, for example, they got into the number-one business school in the country or they're 35, have a baby daughter and "their family couldn't support the lost income". I'm sorry, but let's be blunt: those are really really sh***y reasons to avoid serving when Civilization Itself is on the line. They're even sh***ier reasons when pretty much all observers agree that one of the reasons we're losing in Iraq, if we haven't already lost, is lack of manpower.

The common defense against this charge is, "Well, you believe that fires should be fought but you're not a firefighter, chickenfirefight!" or something similar, but that misses the point. If a fire began to rage out of control, threatening to consume the entire city -- threatening The City Itself, IOW -- and I railed against all the people who weren't fighting the fire but, when the time came for me to step up, ran the other direction with a lame-ass, selfish or outright narcissistic excuse, you're goddamn right I'd be a coward. And if I used my bully pulpit to whip the crowd into a fire-fighting frenzy, sending other able-bodied souls off to fight, get crippled and die in my stead while I fled the scene, yes, I would be a chickenhawk (or chickenfirefighter or whatever) and deservedly pilloried as one.

As for the charge about the children, I think specific instantiations of that notion are incorrect as I said above. The war will not be lost or won purely because the Bush twins do or don't serve -- although obviously the extra manpower would come in handy, right? That said, there's a larger point there which I didn't address: the war has enabled a form of class warfare to insinuate itself through the fabric of our society. When the leaders of the upper class are unaffected by the sacrifices they impose on others; when their children regard service as something for Other People to do; when the youths banging the drums of war to garner political accolades recoil at the thought of actually putting themselves in harm's way; then what we have is a social rift where the rich, the powerful and those aspiring to riches and power regard the less fortunate as objects to be manipulated and discarded instead of people to be helped (or left alone, as the case may be). In this sense, the failure of the Bush twins is not in itself a determining factor in the war, but it is representative of a great failing in this country and, as such, is a profound indictment of the jingoistic class.

None of this is to denigrate the service of those in uniform, nor the integrity of those who believe this to be a clash of civilizations and have acted accordingly. None of this is to claim that those waging this class warfare are fully cognizant of their failings, twirling their moustaches while they plot the doom of our military and our country. All of this should be taken to say that, until those people put their money where their mouth is, they should shut the hell up or be branded a chickenhawk and driven from out the public sphere. The war isn't costing them a damn thing -- in fact, many are profiting (either financially or politically) from it -- because other people are paying their bills; and that kind of despicable opportunism should be unacceptable to any American, or indeed anyone who believes in integrity, justice and honor.

mb - from a review of that book you linked - "I like this book so much there's a passage from it tattooed on my thigh." No mention of which passage, sadly.

Anarch,

The problem I have with the chickenhawk concept is this: if you cannot advocate a military policy unless you are willing to serve yourself, then what you are advocating is rule by the military. Now, as a military guy, I'm not wholly opposed to that (said tongue firmly in cheek), but I think it's a questionable way to run a railroad. Should the liberals who call for intervention in Darfur be run out of the public sphere if they don't volunteer for service there? Or does this only apply for existential threats, and it's perfectly ok to militate for use of the military for minor stuff, which sounds to me like a convenient way of making the 'chickenhawk' argument nothing but a convenient way to marginalize the opposition.

Just tell me this: if someone calls for an action that is the correct action, but is unwilling to undertake it him or herself, should that person not be permitted to speak? Where does it end?

Steward: I thought Hardwired was quite good when I first read it, although in retrospect now seems a bit dated by its self-consciously 'cyberpunk' atmosphere.

(Then again, I get off on strange aliens/weird planets;-))

Another SF book that delves introspectively into the subject of war (as opposed to masturbatory techno-wankery like Ringo/Drake/Pournelle, etc) is Lewis Shiner's superlative anti-war anthology When The Music's Over. Out of print, but well worth the effort of procuring.

rilkefan: hopefully it's not too long a passage.

My personal test was: would you support a draft, and willingly serve if they picked your number in the lottery, if that was necessary to win this war?

I don't know if that works for continuing wars, though--I honestly would not be willing to serve in Iraq; does that mean I am morally obliged to support withdrawal? I don't know. So I can't form a firm position about what we should do in Iraq now.

Andrew, the way I see it, if there were a draft for a humanitarian effort in Darfur, and liberals like me avoided it, and then cast aspersions on conservatives opposing the next humanitarian effort, your analogy would follow.

Anarch: not disagreeing with you when you put it like that, but (given the distinction between "Not being drafted" and "Not volunteering" which Hilzoy outlined) the difficulty I have with demanding of any individual "Why didn't you join up if you think this war is necessary to the survival of civilisation?" is the same difficulty I have with demanding of someone (even if she's a pro-natalist pro-lifer anti-birth control in-a-mixed-sex-marriage thorough bitkah) "So why haven't you had ten children?"

Because the answer, in both cases, may be something so nakedly personal that the person being asked of it would think twice before sharing it even with a close friend.

Andrew: The problem I have with the chickenhawk concept is this: if you cannot advocate a military policy unless you are willing to serve yourself, then what you are advocating is rule by the military.

Hardly. I think your political ambitions are showing. (Said tongue-in-cheek.)

I pretty much agree with Andrew, but I can see that there's not exactly nothing to Anarch's point as well. But I'm unswayed by the emotion with which it was put.

And I'm wondering...do you advocate law enforcement, Anarch? Trash collection? Continued existence of our system of justice? And if so, are you volunteering to do all those tasks you believe should be done? How about having a peacetime military, do you believe in that? And if so, are you in it?

Again, not saying you have no point, just that an unconvincing point put forcefully isn't any more convincing.

My personal test was: would you support a draft, and willingly serve if they picked your number in the lottery, if that was necessary to win this war?

Well, I certainly wouldn't, but then, I consider the draft a violation of the 13th Amendment.

And, once again, I ask: if an action is the correct action, does the fact a person is unwilling to do it himself render the action incorrect? Does the willingness of a person to perform an incorrect action make it correct?

I think your political ambitions are showing.

Ack! I've been busted.

"And I'm wondering...do you advocate law enforcement, Anarch?"

I would guess that Anarch doesn't feel (considers that our society doesn't feel) that there is an existential threat to us from burglars and tax evaders and so forth - that our democracy has reached a decision about the resources to devote to the certainly real problem, and that there are an adequate number of police officers catching criminals for the most part (ignoring complications like the war on drugs, which I imagine many here find a misallocation of effort). It sounds like we need 3x the current number of troops in Iraq and can't get them.

Mark Kleiman on the above.

I think the "chickenhawk" concept relates to our discussion of moral authority before -- if someone is advocating an action that requires sacrifice but is not himself willing to participates in that sacrifice, then his arguments lose much of their *power*, though not necessarily their *validity*.

One sometimes sees the same sort of reaction with anti-poverty programs -- if someone is advocating that we raise taxes on the rich in order to fund an anti-poverty initiative, that person will have more credibility if s/he is in one of the tax brackets getting hit than if s/he's just reaching into someone else's pockets.

Oh, and Andrew, thanks for posting the answer. I don't even remember that line (or much else about the movie, since it's been over two decades since I saw it), so I had zero chance of getting it (glad I didn't waste too much effort on it).

"if someone is advocating an action that requires sacrifice but is not himself willing to participates in that sacrifice, then his arguments lose much of their *power*, though not necessarily their *validity*."

I wouldn't call such a person a chickenhawk, esp. if he or she doesn't declare me immoral for disagreeing with the said action.

Well, before the discussion continues, maybe we should all agree on a definition. It seems to be used in a wide variety of ways, some more sensible than others.

Anarch: all I did above was draw distinctions. In fact, I am perfectly willing to say of someone who avoided (=got out of it for a trumped-up reason, not a good one) the draft while supporting the war in Vietnam that that person was a chickenhawk. In the case of people we know enough about to say that they have not changed in the relevant respects, like, oh, Bush and Cheney, I am willing to say that they are chickenhawks.

About people who don't volunteer: I think a lot depends on the circumstances. Leaving aside people who either wouldn't be accepted or are performing some other essential service to the nation, someone who doesn't volunteer when there are plenty of volunteers is,I think, off the hook. (I think this is the answer to the police question, by the way: to my knowledge the police force is not facing a recruiting crisis.) Someone who doesn't volunteer when there's a shortage, and when that shortage is affecting the prosecution of a war s/he thinks is vital to the nation's interest, is a lot more problematic.

Generally, though, I'm more comfortable not using the term, since it seems to mean different things to different people. To me, the basic problem the term gets at is: advocating a policy that is dangerous and (for some people) unpleasant, and assuming that the people who will have to do it are not people like me -- that I am too upwardly mobile or smart or generally valuable to be used in this way; or that wars are to be fought by all those other, less fortunate people. That's an odious attitude in any context, military or not; and it's why, when someone tells me that the reason he hasn't signed up is that he just got accepted to business school (so that I don't have to ask for his personal details, which he would be under no obligation to reveal to me), I am inclined to suspect that he feels something like this.

I wonder if sometime in the future, historians will suggest that what happened with Iraq was the inevitable result of a failure to adapt the military to the changing situations after the end of the cold war. It seems to me that because of a number of structural points (including the MIC and the pork barrel factor, hotspots reduced to small definitive locations, the desire for the US to abandon bases on foreign soil, among others), the US engaged in creating a smaller , more mobile military with a higher lethality, composed of volunteers who would be more politically reliable. Sorry about that last turn of phrase, and I don't want to put the blame on one side. Part of the blame goes to the left who demanded that ROTC programs be banned from campus, which had an effect of diluting the impact of those who may have had more liberal impulses.

Had a force that was designed more for peace-keeping/maintanence of order, Iraq would not have really been a possibility. Recall how Rummy is quoted as saying that there were no good targets in Afghanistan, or how the wired battlefield played out so much better as an armored flying V streaming across the desert that it would have with people trying to get a signal in the valleys of the Afghanistan, and it's clear that we didn't commit there not simply because we had bigger fish to fry, but because the military we have constructed would not have functioned in that environment. If you buy a nice suit, you don't then wear it to MacDonald's, you want to show it off where it will look it's best.

Most people (but sadly not me) don't spend a lot of time going out and buying garden tools and then never actually using them. A number of factors crafted the military that we have, and have led us to this impasse, and I think that some future historians might argue that it would not have mattered who was in office or who was playing chickenhawk or if the notion actually exists.

Hmm..not sure I have much to add to Anarch's 8:29. I will say in reference to my tongue-in-cheek-Jonah-wants-to-be-slaughtered post above, that my point was that his/their constant hyping of the, what I termed "etc." threat, yet seemingly obvious lack of sacrifice to combat that threat, causes me to question whether they really believe it's that much of a threat. And, if they don't, I wonder why they hype it so much and rarely come to a nice non-partisan answer.

On the "chickenhawk" argument more generally, I disdain the "you can't advocate military action unless you are/have/are willing to serve" line of argument, obviously that's incorrect. But to argue that fighting the etc. threat is essential to survival of the country (or the west or whatever), and yet make no sacrifice yourself, does seem to be ripe for rhetorical, if not completely substantive, picking. And if Jonah et. al. were willing to, say, advocate for and pay higher taxes so we could pay each troop $X per year and have all the troops we need to fight etc., I'd have a bit more respect for et. al.; but it seems to me that tax cuts for those who don't need them are somehow essential to... well, I'm really not sure. Of course, I'll bet they consider themselves essential cogs in fighting the etc. threat somehow (we must type over here so we don't have to type over there).

Andrew - if an action is the correct action, does the fact a person is unwilling to do it himself render the action incorrect?

Well, ceteris paribus, no. But other things are rarely otherwise the same. As I mention above, if et. al. were saying something along the lines of "the etc. threat must be combated and here's how the US needs to sacrifice to do it; I'm personally willing to [insert something more than typing here]," then good for them. But, it seems to me, they're not.

slarti: the difference between Anarch's argument and Andrew's turns on two points: the degree of the threat and the failure of our society to respond adequately.

Is crime a serious problem? yep. Existential? not so much. Crime is plummeting across the country in almost every category. So unfilled slots in police departements does not appear to be a major issue.

Does the war in Iraq / WOT ... present an existential threat to our way of life? Not to me. But plenty of conservative commentators have made that argument.

Going onto the next point then -- has our society responded adequately? Apparently not. Our armed forces need more high-quality troops.

This argument, to me, puts young conservative commentators on the horns of a dilemma: are they lying or are they cowards?

Now, there's nothing wrong with being a coward; i expect i'm one. but i'm not trying to persuade smart americans to enlist or that america is facing an existential crisis.

there is something extremely unseemly about people who wish to be future leaders of america to demand such a dangerous service from fellow americans when they're not willing to do it themselves.

what's unseemly? I'm having a hard time articulating it. Partly I think that cowards will make bad leaders. Partly I want our future leaders to have more integrity.

[let me sleep on this; maybe i can clarify my thoughts tomorrow.]

p.s. QandO has an interesting post on the moral case for continuing occupation. While much of it has been said before, it's a good recap of the major issues.

{my comments are, of course, brilliant (or not).}

It's generally hard to make the "chickenhawk" argument on an individual basis, because most of the time we simply don't know enough about the individual and his (her?) situation. (By the time someone runs for President or VP, the information gap is much narrower, so this does not apply.) I'm not saying accusing someone of being a chickenhawk may not be a valid political tactic in some cases, but it's an awfully weapon.

OTOH, it seems to me as a historian generally concerned with broader phenomena that if we can identify an entire class of people who are conspicuously not volunteering for a conflict, especially one that they publicly espouse, there's trouble for the war effort.

IOW, if the Bush twins didn't enlist, but we could at the same time point - as we could in WWII - to many other relatives of the rich and powerful, sports and movie stars, sons of politicians, &c. who did enlist, this would be trivial. We might seize the opportunity to tweak "Bush family values," but this would rightly be regarded as inconsequential in the larger sense.

This, however, is not the situation today. We are, AFAIK, not getting any meaningful share of the scions of the rich and powerful taking part. No sons of Senators (which is why Michael Moore's underlying point has some validity, even if his tactics are crass). One professional athlete (Pat Tillman) at the highest level that I know of. No movie stars. Not even, to the best of my knowledge, the politically ambitious sons of the elite trying to build up their war cred (think JFK in WWII, Al Gore in VN?).

To my mind this class abdication matters more than the motives (hypocritical or not) of most individual war-supporters.

Of course, YMMV.

Andrew - if an action is the correct action, does the fact a person is unwilling to do it himself render the action incorrect?

No.

How about this version:

If an action is the correct action, does the fact a person is unwilling to do it himself render the person incorrect?

Finally something on which to (perhaps) disagree with Andrew, gotta grab it while it's still warm :)

Andrew: Just tell me this: if someone calls for an action that is the correct action, but is unwilling to undertake it him or herself, should that person not be permitted to speak?

In general? Yes, they should be permitted to speak. But note that I didn't make the general claim there: I made the specific claim that when proclaiming an existential crisis an unwillingness to undertake the actions necessary to deal with said crisis while loudly beating the drum of their necessity render that person unfit for the public sphere. That's a very restrictive criterion, and one not met in, f'rex, Slarti's examples.

Slarti: And I'm wondering...do you advocate law enforcement, Anarch? Trash collection? Continued existence of our system of justice? And if so, are you volunteering to do all those tasks you believe should be done? How about having a peacetime military, do you believe in that? And if so, are you in it?

This was exactly what I was talking about when I invoked the firefighting example in my post above, and which rilkefan noted subsequently. Quick recap: were any of those genuinely necessary responses to existential crises -- if, for example, we were experiencing a crime wave of epic proportions; or the legal system were about to come apart at the seams; or we were, um, about to drown in a sea of garbage? -- you're damn right I'd be doing those or be rightly labelled a coward/chickenhawk/whatever. Since they aren't, no, I don't think participation in any of those should be mandatory.

Well, before the discussion continues, maybe we should all agree on a definition [of "chickenhawk"]. It seems to be used in a wide variety of ways, some more sensible than others.

I gave mine above; others can play too if they wish :)

Andrew: Just tell me this: if someone calls for an action that is the correct action, but is unwilling to undertake it him or herself, should that person not be permitted to speak?

As Hilzoy and Jesurgliac have answered before me, the sensible answer is "it depends on the circumstances". The nature of the risk and the grounds of the refusal both matter.

dr ngo: To my mind this class abdication matters more than the motives (hypocritical or not) of most individual war-supporters.

Yes. Comparing and contrasting: just as Moore driving round in a van with a loudhailer was so bad it was embarrassing, one of the most interesting parts of Fahrenheit 911 was where Moore shows that joining the military has really become one of those jobs that only people below a certain income will do. I was half-aware of this from the reasons that people usually gave me why they'd decided to join the military (I rarely ask: I would have considered that impolite except to a close friend and then only with the qualification "if you don't mind talking about it").

As has been pointed out elsewhere, the US has very low income mobility: what income-level your parents were, is likely to be yours. But, if you have no moral qualms about joining the military, I could see that it was - and especially of course for someone who couldn't afford to go to college otherwise - a very good job, with excellent benefits, and much stronger legal and social protection against racial discrimination than virtually anywhere else in the US. (Which is especially impressive to a Brit: our military still tends to be strongly stratified by social class, and no one from it denies that racism's a factor.)

But, a job that only low-status people take, becomes a low-status job.

(Oh, I meant to add: I rarely ask, but when soldier meets pacifist face to face, and pacifist behaves politely, I have noticed (as a pacifist) the soldier frequently comes out, quite unasked, with their reasons for becoming a soldier. It's kind of like declaring myself a vegetarian to a confirmed carnivore.)

I would guess that Anarch doesn't feel (considers that our society doesn't feel) that there is an existential threat to us from burglars and tax evaders and so forth - that our democracy has reached a decision about the resources to devote to the certainly real problem, and that there are an adequate number of police officers catching criminals for the most part (ignoring complications like the war on drugs, which I imagine many here find a misallocation of effort).

And similar. Some people can say that they feel exactly this way about the GWOT. During the first couple of years of our involvement in Iraq, additional troops were not being requested, but despite this, "chickenhawk" was exercised early and often. But you're saying that the validity of "chickenhawk" is a function of...something? What is that? Urgency? What is it about urgency that has things follow logically where they didn't before? And who says we don't need more policemen, just because more aren't being requested?

Some people see it as hypocrisy: those who maintain that their way of life is under dire threat, yet still won't fight to defend it. I see it as exaggeration: these people don't really believe their way of life is significantly threatened; that kind of talk is simply hyperbole. This is, I think, a legitimate question: if you really feel that we as a nation, or you as an individual, are actually, physically or culturally, threatened, shouldn't you be doing something about that?

then his arguments lose much of their *power*

I'm not all that interested in power. I think what I think; you think what you think. Do I get more than one vote, simply because I've got convictions that have power? And again, if Anarch is reading this, I'm not ridiculing, just pointing out that your feelings in the matter don't readily translate to persuasion, as far as I'm concerned.

that person will have more credibility if s/he is in one of the tax brackets getting hit than if s/he's just reaching into someone else's pockets

And even more credibility if he/she reaches deeply into their own pockets with or without the tax. By the rules of personal sacrifice, anyway. Maybe emptying out your bank accounts would be called for.

We are, AFAIK, not getting any meaningful share of the scions of the rich and powerful taking part.

If your point is that politicians are not shanghaiing their own children into service, agreed. If your point is that the convictions of politicians aren't being absorbed by their children to any large extent, agreed (if one accepts the premist, that is). Otherwise: not sure what your point is.

There are a few members of Congress with kids who are in or have been in Iraq, though, which even a casual Google search would reveal. Kit Bond, Todd Akin, Tim Johnson and Duncan Hunter. Four out of 545. Not stunning, but higher than, for instance, the national average.

But probably this is just me being slippery again, so I'm braced for that.

"premise"

Note to self: more coffee.

dr ngo--
"the politically ambitious sons of the elite trying to build up their war cred (think JFK in WWII"

Maybe, although there's no question that JFK went to nearly heroic lengths to get into the military. He was a 4-F if ever there was one. The 11/18/2002 Atlantic has a lengthy article about his (incredibly numerous) health problems.

There are a few members of Congress with kids who are in or have been in Iraq, though, which even a casual Google search would reveal.

Really? I'm curious: how do you google for that category? "children of congresspeople" Iraq?

Can't recall how I found it, but here's the article. Took me all of a couple of minutes to stumble across it.

Foxnews, certainly, but it's an AP article. It's over a year old, so places where it has been previously published now are linkbusted.

Also found it here.

then his arguments lose much of their *power*

I'm not all that interested in power. I think what I think; you think what you think.

Well, this is probably true for the sort of people who use their free time to engage in political discussions on blogs; but there are a lot of people out there who aren't sure what to think about a complicated issue and are apt to take the word of someone that they respect. It seems to me that such people are more likely to be convinced by someone who's ready to put his/her own life on the line than someone who would just be watching the war on TV.

But probably this is just me being slippery again, so I'm braced for that.

If you are slippery, it is probably difficult to brace yourself...

But seriously,
but despite this, "chickenhawk" was exercised early and often.

This seems to suggest that the use of the term earlier means that the term can't ever be used. I'm not sure how that is. The fact is that I would have been pretty dismissive of people who used the term a few years ago, but my reservations have lowered (though not disappeared) as it seems clearer that the administration want to have us feel like we are in a war for our fundamental values, but doesn't want to argue that we are.

It seems to me that such people are more likely to be convinced by someone who's ready to put his/her own life on the line than someone who would just be watching the war on TV.

That's a good point; one that I've been hitting now and again, but it seems to fall on deaf ears: to persuade, it's best to be persuasive. Probably not best to, on the other hand, pelt anyone who doesn't agree with you with the verbal equivalent of rotten vegetables.

Only tangentially related to the preceding discussion, but there has been some rotten-vegetable-pelting aspect to the great and ongoing debate that tends to make me ignore the source rather than listen to it. I know I've said this before. Not directed at you, kenB, nor at anyone else in particular. If this makes me "slippery" once again, I can name names.

If you are slippery, it is probably difficult to brace yourself...

Mmm...good point. But I could be slippery in a directional sense.

But I could be slippery in a directional sense.

or arguing in your spare time...

one of the most interesting parts of Fahrenheit 911 was where Moore shows that joining the military has really become one of those jobs that only people below a certain income will do.

That would be a misconception, according to this

Table 2 is a summary of ZCTA data ranked in order of population quintiles. In 1999 and 2003, the recruits generally mirror the percent distribution among the population, but the pattern shows clearly that there were fewer recruits from the poorest quin­tile of neighborhoods[4] (18.0 percent) and fewer from the richest quintile (18.6 percent) in 1999. In 2003, however, only 14.6 percent of military recruits came from the poorest quintile, whereas the wealth­iest quintile provided 22.0 percent. Enlistments from wealthier areas surged, resulting in a 3.4 per­centage point upturn. The middle-class quintiles (the third and fourth wealthiest areas) consistently provided disproportionately high numbers of sol­diers in both year groups.

I think dr. ngo's point is a good one, and it's what I was trying to describe the individualized version of earlier, when I was talking about feeling as though it was obvious that other sorts of people were the ones who should do the actual fighting and dying. It is what has always bothered me most about GWB's military record. It was an enormous problem in Vietnam, and one of the downsides of the volunteer army is that it has allowed it to become more legitimate, since privileged kids no longer have to go to the trouble of faking disabilities or in some other way lying to evade service.

I absolutely do not think that to advocate a war, one has to be willing to serve in it, still less that one has to have actually served. I do think two other things: first, that if someone does assume that obviously, it's other sorts of people who will be fighting that war, that's odious all by itself, and second, that people who make that assumption are more likely (not certain, just more likely) to underestimate the costs to others of the wars they advocate than they would be if they assumed that it would be their leg that might be blown off, or their children who would grow up without a parent.

Slarti: Can't recall how I found it

Pity. That was actually what I was interested in: how one would search, generically, on Google, for which children of Congresspeople are now (or have been) in Iraq.

DaveC: That would be a misconception, according to this

That looks suspiciously like research done to prove a point which just happens to prove the point the researcher wants proved....

Ok, since it's important, I looked at my history. Hard to tell, because history does some things that are...well, non-intuitive, but this is my best reconstruction:

This Google search led me here.

Since that last link led to a linkdead end, I googled the words in the title of the link, in order, thus.

The Foxnews link is on the first page of finds.

I didn't look any deeper than that, other than Googling the partial title of the AP article, which led me to the Chicago Sun-Times article.

That looks suspiciously like research done to prove a point which just happens to prove the point the researcher wants proved....

Is there any evidence to back up that statement?

Slarti, I think you're personalizing part of the argument in a way that I don't quite find legit. When you say that you personally didnt' feel that we were facing an existential crisis, I believe you. In my mind, you often sound like a late-night jazz DJ, with that relentless consistent tone, and an existential crisis would be something like a persistent shortage of remastered Miles Davis albums. When you recover from that... :-)

Anyway, there's a distinction here between what you, person with well-developed and distinctive views, think and the war we got. To argue "but I didn't endorse that part of it" strikes me as a bit like Thomas Friedman's delayed recognition that he wasn't going to get the war or reconstruction he personally wanted, but would have to deal with what the administration wanted. The people actually waging the war do present it in terms of existential crisis, and so do their favored advocates outside the administration. We don't quite get the option of "one war to go, hold the existential crisis".

In any event, I'm certainly willing to cut you as the aforementioned individual slack on this, but I don't see how that bears on the general issue. Bush and Cheney tell us that the fate of civilization hang in the balance. So do the folks who support them without the equivocations or nuances you bring to bear. (Presumably they also have to do it without the Miles Davis albums, but then maybe they're not troubled by it.) So what may matter in dealing with you doesn't seem to me to matter in dealing with them.

That looks suspiciously like research done to prove a point which just happens to prove the point the researcher wants proved....

Let me rephrase my question less belligerently. Could you elaborate on why you believe that? Thanks.

Is there any evidence to back up that statement?

Well, in partial defense of Jes, I would point out that it is from the Heritage Foundation, which is not exactly a neutral source.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and looking at this

Although all branches of the armed services have been able to meet recruiting goals in recent years, the Army's difficulty in meeting its goal of 80,000 new soldiers in 2005 has been widely reported, and some view it as a symbol of the need to reinstate the draft. However, this shortfall should be placed in the proper context. The Army is pro­jected to fall just 7,000 (about 9 percent) short of its 2005 recruitment goal, which is less than 1 per­cent of the overall military of over 1 million person­nel. Furthermore, there is the unexpected rise in re-enlistment rates. In other words, the total force strength is about what it should be.

It doesn't mention the raising of the enlistment age to 42 and the use of stop loss to maintain total force strength to name two.

But what is interesting is that this article and another one that he has written seem to concentrate on debunking Rangel's call for a draft, which seems to be something that you support, though perhaps not Rangel's call. I'm assuming that you have reasons for feeling that we are 'watering down our forces' that would contradict what Tim Kane writes, so it seems that busting Jes for her skepticism is a bit rash.

Sorry, cross-posted, I appreciate the rewording, Andrew.

Bush and Cheney tell us that the fate of civilization hang in the balance. So do the folks who support them without the equivocations or nuances you bring to bear. (Presumably they also have to do it without the Miles Davis albums, but then maybe they're not troubled by it.) So what may matter in dealing with you doesn't seem to me to matter in dealing with them.

Ok, now we're back to leaders. Is it your point that the leaders themselves ought to be in the Army, or that their children (who may or may not be in agreement with them) should be? If not, I'm at a loss. Please elaborate.

"The people actually waging the war do present it in terms of existential crisis, and so do their favored advocates outside the administration. We don't quite get the option of "one war to go, hold the existential crisis"."

They may say it is an "existential crisis" but that does not mean 1) they actually believe it is an "existential crisis, or 2) are acting or are going to act as if it were such, or acting because they believe it is one.

This is important. They lie. They lie on the record, off the record, to each other, to themselves. It is important to at least accept as a possibility that Bush does not really believe:"Whatever we believe, our enemies believe the opposite." Like the joy of children, the beauty of flowers, gravity.
It may be comforting to think that Bush is stupid, or mad as a March Hare, but like open your minds to the slim possibility that he is not being completely candid.

lj,

Stop-loss doesn't affect recruiting, as far as I know, although I am not an expert in that area. But stop-loss is normally a retention issue, not a recruiting one, maintaining a unit's integrity around a deployment to minimize unit turmoil during the deployment.

I would love to the Democrats take on the issue of lowered standards in recruiting, and to aggressively address the question of quality in our service, rather than simply quantity. (Lenin notwithstanding.) But I would be very opposed to a draft, because that would reduce quality, not improve it.

I concur that the piece is clearly aimed at undermining Senator Rangel's case for a draft. But that does not mean that his numbers are therefore incorrect. I'm curious is Jesurgislac saw something in the numbers that raised suspicion, or if she was privy to a different dataset.

Speaking strictly anecdotally, I have met an amazing cross-section of people in the 18+ years I've been with the Army. While my own assessment would draw the distribution weighted towards the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum, my experience is that it is not as sharply weighted as Senator Rangel appears to believe. But that is based strictly on my own observations, which is why I'm curious if there is good reason to doubt the data presented in the Heritage study.

Andrew: Could you elaborate on why you believe that? Thanks.

I could probably analyse out in boring detail how the researcher phrased his sentences that suggested why I'm of this opinion, yes. (I also googled Tim Kane PhD in Google Scholar, and got three hits (once I distangled out the other T- Kanes.))

But, as I read that essay Dave C linked to, it reads as if the person who wrote it had something to prove, and the research they did just happens to prove that.

And the second paragraph in, Dr Kane says that in fact the army has no recruiting problem anyway. (Would you agree with that assessment? Do you feel that the talk of more personnel being needed is just wrong, as Dr Kane says it is?)

If you want me to analyse out, sentence by sentence, turn of phrase by turn of phrase, exactly what gave me that impression, I'm not willing to do it in an ObWing comment: I'll do it in a post on my own journal. Might even be interesting. But it won't happen this evening.

But that does not mean that his numbers are therefore incorrect. I'm curious is Jesurgislac saw something in the numbers that raised suspicion, or if she was privy to a different dataset.

As I said, it was partial defense, in that Heritage has a bit of a rep. However, in the paragraph I quoted, 'total force strength' is something that can offset poor recruiting, so it is a bit misleading to include that. Furthermore, multiple deployments and the use of guard units make the invocation of 'total force strength misleading, I think.

I also think, given all the stories about recruiting problems, which are anecdotal but include recruiter malfeasance, privatization, raising of the enlistment age, lowered standards, increased enlistment bonuses, the fact that the Army only has a shortfall of 7,000 can be viewed as bit of smoke and mirrors.

Add that to the fact that officers are becoming more and more bold to reveal that they need more to reporters but are being refused by their superiors suggests that Kane is playing with numbers rather than trying to present an honest picture.

Furthermore, he uses data from 1999, before 9/11, which can't really be said to relate to the trends we see now. He also uses postal codes to determine household income, and argues that those from wealthier areas sign up. But areas are certainly not uniform, and the assumption that there is a perfectly even distribution so that the postal code represents the median income seems a bit off. It may be correct, but it is not proving that Rangel is wrong, since the level of granularity in the data does not permit that conclusion to be so strongly drawn.

Also, he quotes Rangel's claim that "A disproportionate number of the poor and members of minority groups make up the enlisted ranks of the military, while most priv­ileged Americans are underrepresented or absent". Note the 'poor AND members...'. Kane suggests that Rangel is wrong because

In April 2005, the Chicago Tribune cited a statistic that 35 percent of those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan were from small, rural towns, in con­trast to 25 percent of the population.[7] This point runs counter to the picture, painted by Rangel and others, of heavy enlistment reliance on poor, black urban neighborhoods. Indeed, recruits are dispro­portionately rural, not urban, and as rural concen­tration[8] rises, so does military enlistment.

Note that Rangel said poor and minorities, so presumably he is not making a claim that it is solely urban blacks. Perhaps Rangel made some claim about urban blacks (given his district, it wouldn't be surprising), but the statement Kane uses doesn't say that.

And I would also point out that Kane is trying to make two points, one, that we have enough men and two, that we are recruiting a wide range of people. Each of those points can be treated independently, so even if he is correct about one, the other can still be wrong.

Finally, the paper closes with

Logically, this suggests that if terrorists strike America again, young Americans will be more— not less—willing to volunteer for military service. We can also anticipate that successful terrorist attacks will result in a resurgence of popular sup­port for a draft. All Americans hope that day will never come, but if it does, Congress needs to remain steadfast in opposing coerced conscription and expose the myths of racial and class exploita­tion in military recruiting.

But the point is that absent successful terrorist attacks, we still need more men so arguing that we will have enough because another successful attack will have people signing up in droves is not evidence that there is not a problem.

Sorry, I should say that he also uses 2003 data, but I think that those two data slices should be separated more clearly. Unfortunately, the links to the full size graphs are broken, so I can't be precisely sure about their content.

Slarti: Some people can say that they feel exactly this way about the GWOT.

Naturally: I'm one of them. Your point?

But you're saying that the validity of "chickenhawk" is a function of...something?

...

Yes, of course. Same as any other word.

Urgency? What is it about urgency that has things follow logically where they didn't before?

I'm not really sure how to answer that except "It's bloody obvious, innit?" If the boat is sinking, it's all hands below. If the fire is burning out of control, it's all hands to the water line. If the enemy is actually invading, it's all hands to the guns. Increasing the urgency of the crisis almost invariably increases the necessity of the response; and when the crisis is (nominally) existential, that necessity of necessity dwarfs whatever personal allegiances you might normally have.

And who says we don't need more policemen, just because more aren't being requested?

Are we facing a crime wave of epic proportions that threatens to rock our civilization to its very foundations? Did I maybe miss something when I slept in this morning?

The issue wasn't whether we could use more -- that's clearly a debatable proposition and I'm not equipped to address -- but whether, as a matter of existential necessity, we need more policemen. If you'd like to assert that proposition, replete with the requisite justification, I'm all ears.

This is, I think, a legitimate question: if you really feel that we as a nation, or you as an individual, are actually, physically or culturally, threatened, shouldn't you be doing something about that?

I'm curious: where on God's green earth did you get the impression that I think we as a nation (or I as an individual) are threatened in an existential way? I would've thought my post made it damn clear that I don't hold this proposition to be true and was in fact castigating those who held that proposition but failed to take the necessary measures. Was I in some way unclear?

In fact, the more I read your question, the more I have to ask in return: did you not realize that my post asked exactly the same question?

[Only apparently with a lot more feelings which, contra your assertion above, were apparently pretty dang persuasive after all.]

Ok, now we're back to leaders. Is it your point that the leaders themselves ought to be in the Army, or that their children (who may or may not be in agreement with them) should be?
YES!!!

If not, I'm at a loss. Please elaborate.

It would do wonders to concentrate their minds.

matttbastard,

I thought Hardwired was quite good when I first read it, although in retrospect now seems a bit dated by its self-consciously 'cyberpunk' atmosphere.

You can never be too cyberpunk or cynical...

I like cyberpunk, in that it is the scifi style that has been the most accurate in predicting the world we live in, a new guilded age, powerful global amoral corporations and a large population of technologically saavy individuals thriving in black/grey markets.

If you like your future distotian, I would recommand Eclipse (A Song Called Youth) ,Moreau Omnibus, A good old fashionned future, pretty much anything by William Gibson, and recently picked up Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan.

I think a book recommendation open thread in time for the weekend might be nice right now.

Slartibartfast: If your point is that politicians are not shanghaiing their own children into service, agreed. If your point is that the convictions of politicians aren't being absorbed by their children to any large extent, agreed (if one accepts the premist, that is). Otherwise: not sure what your point is.

I'm a little surprised that you only mention scenarios in which the politicians' expressions of conviction are sincere, but the kids just won't cooperate. I guess kids these days are just no darn good, and there's nothing, short of enslaving them, that parents can do about it. Is raising their children to value service and sacrifice just not something that folks who sincerely, and quite vocally, value service and sacrifice do these days?

Are we facing a crime wave of epic proportions that threatens to rock our civilization to its very foundations?

Nope. We do have some problem areas, though. Or has America turned into Sweden while I wasn't looking?

As for the rest...well, I guess I'm confused. What kind of person do you think the "chickenhawk" label fits? Do you have anyone specific in mind?

Is raising their children to value service and sacrifice just not something that folks who sincerely, and quite vocally, value service and sacrifice do these days?

You don't have any kids, do you? You do what you can, and then you have to let them go.

Is that a "no", or just a non sequitur? Yes, some kids rebel against their parents' values. Of course the outcome isn't going to be 100% enlistment. But among those who supposedly think we are in a "war for civilization" wouldn't you expect the number be little bit higher than practically none? Dick Cheney can talk his daughter into campaigning for a man who wants to modify the Constitution to make her a permanent second-class citizen. Parents still have some influence on their kids, even those who might not live entirely up to their expectations.

And, to be clear, I don't think Jenna and Barbara's contributions would turn the tide of the war or any such nonsense. This phenomenon is a symptom, not a disease.

Still not getting you, Gromit. People make their own decisions, for their own reasons. My parents are no more responsible for my decisions as an adult than you are.

People make their own decisions, for their own reasons.

Yes, and contributing to those reasons is, quite frequently, their upbringing. Unless you mean to suggest that children don't typically get any of their values from their parents?

Slarti: My parents are no more responsible for my decisions as an adult than you are.

You assert that your parents had absolutely no influence on the kind of person you grew up to be? Because that is the only way you could truthfully say that your parents are no more responsible for the kind of decisions you make as an adult than Gromit is (assuming that Gromit had no hand in bringing you up, of course). Which I suppose he might have done. (Said tongue in cheek.)

Parents do influence the decisions their children make as adults. That doesn't mean parents make decisions for their adult children. It does mean that, if George W. Bush is a lazy, selfish man with a sense of entitlement up the wazoo, and no sense at all that having grown up with more privileges than most he had better work to deserve what he got, that we can guess he's like that because that's how his parents brought him up to be: and we can make a fair guess (though his daughters are still pretty young) that this is how he brought his daughters up to be.

re: recruitment and class -- those numbers would be a lot more meaningful if they were broken out by officer/enlisted and by MOS. It's entirely possible that more recruits are coming from wealthy backgrounds, and that those recruits are going into support roles as officers.

The report from the Heritage Foundation also does not tell us where most of the losses in the services are coming from and if recruits are filling those roles or other ones. I've read in several places that the services are losing Captains at a higher rate than anytime since Viet Nam, mostly due to decisions not to re-up. It takes time to replace an experienced Captain. I'd be interested to find out if the same is true for Sergeants.

Slart: 'What kind of person do you think the "chickenhawk" label fits? Do you have anyone specific in mind?'

Cheney (Vietnam booster [I think] but multiple deferments, ominous hints that war opponents won't defend America or are traitors) is a standard example - Rush Limbaugh is another.

I doubt I would label anyone I could have a civil conversation with about US foreign policy is someone I would label a chickenhawk. To me it requires a combination of moral censoriousness and refusal to follow the espoused principles.

Another bit of input - anyone in public is much more susceptible to this charge than private citizens. If (e.g.) Jonah Goldberg had announced he was enlisting and urged his readers to do the same, that might have gotten the army a number of decent recruits - my friend Joe War Supporter isn't going to start a trend by signing up.

You assert that your parents had absolutely no influence on the kind of person you grew up to be?

No, I assert that my parents are not responsible for my choices, just as I am not responsible for theirs.

No, I assert that my parents are not responsible for my choices, just as I am not responsible for theirs.

I think this goes along with your claim to be an annelid worm - sorry, to be a simple person without agenda or subtext.

Your parents are responsible for the kind of person you became, and are therefore responsible for your choices. They don't get to make your choices for you, and it's even possible that the kind of choices you make are a deliberate reversal of the choices your parents made: your parents are still responsible for them.

Children don't usually bring up their parents, and so you are not responsible for the kind of person either of your parent is, or for the choices they made. You are responsible, as a parent, for the kind of person your child may become: not merely by the choices you make that directly affect your child, but the choices your child sees you make.

People seem to have varying ideas about what "responsible" means. The web starts off:

# Liable to be required to give account, as of one's actions or of the discharge of a duty or trust.

Here I can see Clinton being responsible for the failure to stop OBL - I think he was ok on the issue, but he did need to account for his actions.

# Involving personal accountability or ability to act without guidance or superior authority: a responsible position within the firm.

# Being a source or cause.

Here's the point of disagreement I think on parenting. I don't think the word's up to bearing the distinctions being made here - maybe using "accountable" would help.

Nope. We do have some problem areas, though. Or has America turned into Sweden while I wasn't looking?

The word I keep using, Slarti, and which you keep failing to address, is "existential". I did not say that one is obligated to put up or shut up on all matters because, as I've noted a few times in this thread, I don't believe that. I very specifically limited my statement to existential crises. One could, if one were so inclined, try to make generalized or localized adaptations of this thesis; I didn't, because the language it would require is too subtle for me. You're welcome to try if you feel so inclined, though, because I'd like to see whether it could be done in any useful way.

As for the rest...well, I guess I'm confused. What kind of person do you think the "chickenhawk" label fits? Do you have anyone specific in mind?

I hate to do this but: you really didn't read my post, did you?

I'm not saying there's no influence, Jesurgislac. Just that at some point in your life, you're a free person. The degree to which one assigns responsibility for one's life to one's parents is, I submit, the degree to which one has abdicated responsibility for one's own life.

A lot of one's, I know. But I'm not going to rephrase.

you really didn't read my post, did you?

Read it, but didn't understand it. I suppose this is what I get for trying to understand.

Slarti: The degree to which one assigns responsibility for one's life to one's parents is, I submit, the degree to which one has abdicated responsibility for one's own life.

Or the degree to which one doesn't wish to look at and think about how one acquired one's opinions and values. "The unexamined life is not worth living." (Of course, the man who said that died shortly afterwards, so you may wish to disregard his ideas of what made life worth living.)

There is a very critical aspect to being a "chickenhawk", and it is one that I see a few people have brought up but has never really been seriously acknowledged by most of the folks arguing against the label. This is unfortunate, as in my mind it is the most critical attribute of the person in question, and it obliterates any of the sillier arguments or analogies like police and firefighters.

That attribute is this: the willingness to repeatedly and viciously slander others as cowards and defeatocrats, or otherwise smear them as being unserious, weak on terror, et al. The variations on this theme are numerous, and nobody reading this should be at all in doubt about what kind of thing I'm talking about or who the worst offenders are.

None of us is free from constraint, and for a great many of us our upbringing and the desires and wishes of our parents contribute significantly to these constraints. This is not in any way to say that we are our parents' slaves, nor that our parents must answer for all our actions.

But to suggest that our parents do not play a critically important role in shaping our decision-making processes (including those that motivate us to fight for what we believe in) is to not only immunize them against blame for our faults, but to deny them credit for our virtues. I think the reality of responsibility is a lot more complicated than that, and that responsibility is not atomic. Tiger Woods' dad gets a lot of much-deserved credit for his son's accomplishments, for example. The ultimate judgment goes to the person actually making the decision, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a lot of shared responsibility, and for kids just on the cusp of adulthood, a tremendous amount of this goes to their parents, for good or for ill.

Of course, we can't really point to this or that individual family and determine the extent to which the parents share blame for the faults of their children without knowing the specifics of each case in excruciating detail (and even then, maybe not). But looking at a group of 535, a very large number of whom are strongly supportive of this war, and seeing such a tiny portion living the ideals being expressed so passionately is another question entirely.

And, at the risk of being crass, does anyone doubt that the Bush apples fell far from the tree?

Slart, see the links in Anarch's comment here for examples of chickenhawks-according-to-him.

I'm a little tetchy and I apologize, Slarti -- hard times in Researchland today -- but as rilkefan noted I already linked to two specific examples of people I considered chickenhawks. [The second article, I think it is, consists of numerous more examples of varying weight; the "number-one business school" guy really sticks in my craw, though.] I had also anticipated the "firefighter objection" -- although in your case it was phrased using policemen, garbage collection etc. -- in that post; and given that your questions to me were, in fact, almost identical to the questions (well, accusations) I was making towards others, ones which I had thought were clearly inapplicable towards me, I hope you'll forgive me for thinking you hadn't actually read the post. Comity?

Hmm, "doubt" should be "really think" in my last comment.

But looking at a group of 535, a very large number of whom are strongly supportive of this war, and seeing such a tiny portion living the ideals being expressed so passionately is another question entirely.

The catch is that that group of 535 -- i.e. the Congresspeople -- is the wrong group to be looking at. We should be looking instead at the war promoters, which consists of almost all the GOP members of Congress, some of the Democratic ones (not entirely sure how or where to draw the lines there), their aides and -- this is key -- thousands if not tens of thousands of GOP operatives and abettors across the country. I'm talking about the College Republicans, the NRO staff, the arrangers of those "pro-America" rallies, the Washington Times crew, the WSJ editorial board, the right-wing radio demagogues and so forth. [If you want to be expansive, throw in the pro-war lobbying groups and executives in the pro-war business community, coming from places like Halliburton, Wal-Mart, Clear Channel, Club For Growth, etc.] Considered as a class, what is their rate of enlistment? Considered as a class, where do their personal priorities lie? Considered as a class, how seriously do they actually take the war?

And to be pointed: considered as a class, how have they profited from the war?

Like Jes I have no idea how to go searching for hard statistical data on those questions but what little I know of them suggests the answers are: low; elsewhere; and not at all. Oh: and way too goddamn much.

I agree with Catsy. The critical attribute that makes a person a chickenhawk rather than just a non-vet supporter of a war is that chickenhawks attack the patriotism of others. The chickhenhawk claims to have a superior commitment to defending this country. I am a proponent of calling the chickenhawks out on their crappy behavior. I'm sick to death of people who hide behind family ties or deferments, cheerlead for wars, and then demean the political discourse with the bullying tactic of claiming superior patriotism or attacking as inferior the patriotism of others. Bush and Cheney are classic chickenhawks. In fact that pattern is a staple with Republican politicians. Calling them chickenhawks is necessary in order to fight back against their bullying. Anyone who doesn't want to be called a chickenhawk has the option of not behaving like one. They can advocate for a war without attacking the patriotism of others.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad