"Chicken Hawks," the sequel

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on December 30, 2002

Tuesday's New York Times op-ed page has a piece by Congressman Charles Rangel advocating a return of the draft. If you remember a few months back, some anti-war protesters were attacking "chicken hawks," identified as pro-war-on-Iraq Republicans (mainly) who had never served in the military in a combat situation (i.e. you must have been shot at -- wounded is even better).

Well, Rangel takes the argument a step further.

Carrying out the administration's policy toward Iraq will require long-term sacrifices by the American people, particularly those who have sons and daughters in the military. Yet the Congress that voted overwhelmingly to allow the use of force in Iraq includes only one member who has a child in the enlisted ranks of the military ? just a few more have children who are officers.

The chicken hawk label having failed, the new test of whether you can be pro-war is if you have a child in the military -- preferably enlisted (Army, Navy, Marines), but an Air Force officer (since they are the front-line troops in that branch of the military) -- before you are allowed to support regime change in Iraq.

But that's not all. Not only are the pro-war/anti-Saddam representatives in Congress cavalier with the lives of men and women in uniform, they're also hate minorities and poor people.

Service in our nation's armed forces is no longer a common experience. A disproportionate number of the poor and members of minority groups make up the enlisted ranks of the military, while the most privileged Americans are underrepresented or absent.

While this is undoubtedly true, Rangel belittles these same individuals' choice to serve in the armed forces by suggesting that they enlist only because they have little financial choice and do not understand what service in the armed forces entails. In short, Rangel thinks that people who volunteer for the armed forces are stupid.

As evidence to rebut this, I offer my good friend Marine Sgt. Jay Stang. Check out "Jeopardy" airing March 31 and April 1, 2003, where Mr. Stang, who plays a mean bagpipe, takes home more than $20,000.

That insult aside, Rangel's solution to this is to reinstitute the draft. An idea, in the current military, economic and political climate, which is daft. We may need more troops if a second front breaks out on the Korean peninsula, but merely enlarging the military without the necessary materiel to support the increase. The proposal sounds like little more than a full-employment plan. Not to mention the fact that such an (unnecessary) increase in the military would drastically increase the budget deficit that the Democrats are continually crowing about.

Rangel's proposal to reinstitute the draft at a time in which it is unnecessary is nothing more than a rhetorical ploy to resuscitate the chicken hawk argument in a new incarnation.

Unfortunately for Rangel, it Chicken Hawk Part II won't fly either.


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December 2002



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