Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Trump is a "chicken hawk"

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was subjected to waterboarding.
Waterboarded 183 times

Debra Saunders in this morning's Chronicle:

In 2000, Democrats dismissed George W. Bush’s service as a pilot in the Air National Guard as akin to draft evasion. It wasn’t. But Bush didn’t help himself on that score when he chose as his running mate Dick Cheney, a former defense secretary who enjoyed five draft deferments during the Vietnam War. In 2004, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., branded Cheney a “chicken hawk” because the veep was a hawk on the Iraq War.

You don’t hear “chicken hawk” often these days, even though President Obama never served in the military. Vice President Joe Biden enjoyed five student draft deferments during Vietnam, and the no-military-experience Obama administration has continued to engage the U.S. military from Libya to Afghanistan. In 2009, I took a gander at Obama’s first Cabinet and found that members were three times more likely to be law-school grads than veterans.

Her "law-school grads" slur is just that. More importantly, Saunders is blurring a crucial part of the definition of "chicken hawk," which requires that those so labeled approve of aggressive military action but didn't serve when they were military age. That's why the term fits Cheney, not Obama or Biden, neither of whom were/are hawks by any reasonable definition. In fact Obama was elected in part based on his opposition to the war in Iraq, which he used effectively against Hillary in the 2008 primaries.

Saunders on the list of Democrats that might be Hillary's running mates:

Not one Democrat on the Times’ short list is a vet. All of the short-list Dems...went to law or graduate school. Whether they’ll be called chicken hawks is unclear. But if the experts are right about likely picks, most will have begun their careers barking orders and never had to learn how to salute.

Not at all "unclear," since, as far as I know none of those listed has any history of hawkish foreign policy opinions.

Donald Trump fits the definition, since he got a number of draft deferments during the the US attack on Vietnam, though he had no history of being a hawk until recent years---and particularly during the present campaign.

He has advocated using military force to take oil from other countries, along with some other highly dubious notions:

Trump famously summarizing his policy as "bomb the shit out of" ISIS. But the way in which Trump plans to wage war on ISIS is far more aggressive — and illegal — than anything Clinton proposed. One of Trump's signature proposals is targeting and killing the families of suspected ISIS fighters. "When you get these terrorists," Trump said in December, "you have to take out their families."

He also wants to bring back torture that's "much tougher" than waterboarding. "Don’t kid yourself, folks. It works, okay? It works. Only a stupid person would say it doesn’t work," he said at a November campaign event. But "if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway, for what they’re doing."

To be clear, both torture and the intentional killing of civilians are crimes under international and US law. Confusingly, Trump said in early March he would not order US military officers to disobey the law. But he subsequently suggested that he'd "like the law expanded" to permit torture.

When our government used waterboarding, it was supposedly to extract information from the victims, not to punish them "for what they're doing." Subsequent information and analysis showed that this form of torture didn't work. 

Incredibly, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times and still provided no useful information!

In short, Donald J. Trump clearly now qualifies as a chicken hawk. 

His sneer at Senator McCain is particularly contemptible, since as a US pilot in Vietnam, McCain was shot down and then tortured by his captors.

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At 8:49 AM, Anonymous sfthen said...

In the early 1980s sitting around a table at Hamburger Mary's with the floor staff during an afternoon lull this one guy mentions that in being tutored for his LCATs he learned a new word, "pederast." When no one said anything, probably figuring they're being set up for a joke, he gave the dictionary definition. One of the waiters thought for a second and then said, "Oh, you mean a chickenhawk."

At 1:49 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, that's another definition of the term but clearly not the one used here. Trump can be called many things but not, as far as I know, that.


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