Ducking service sharpens hypocrisy of call to arms
Editorial, The Times: Nov. 6, 2002

  I noted with interest Michael Kelly's defense of "chicken-hawks" where I think he "doth protest too much" ("Chicken-hawk insult sticks in my craw," Times syndicated column, Oct. 30).
  As a retired Army officer, I don't necessarily object to non-veterans making policy and decisions on war. The disgust many veterans have with the administration and its supporters applies to those who assiduously avoided service in Vietnam and now clamor for war while implying those who question it are, somehow, less patriotic than they.
  Isn't it interesting that the real warriors, such as Secretary of State Colin Powell, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, are the ones advising caution on Mr. Bush's unilateral approach?
  As a father of two military-age sons, I have a real problem with the likes of Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Trent Lott, Tom Delay, Dennis Hastert, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and George Will all calling for war with Iraq when they - to a man - failed to heed America's call as the Vietnam War raged. (And yes, I am also disgusted at the weak--kneed Democrats who can't seem to take a firm stand, with the notable exceptions of Robert Byrd and the late Paul Well-stone.) Even our bellicose commander-in-chief, as a "privileged son," was able to secure a safe assignment in the Texas Air National Guard, jumping ahead of many others less influential, and yet was apparently unable to fulfill a minimal military obligation.
  These people are elitists, pure and simple - too good to fight a battle themselves, but not too good to send others into the fray, a hypocrisy that, frankly, sickens me. My question for Kelly's comrades-not-in-arms is: What gives them the moral standing to call America's sons and daughters to risk life and limb in the name of their self-proclaimed patriotism?
Dean Wilson, Tacoma


Whites of their eyes
  I find it interesting that Michael Kelly did not describe any alternative volunteer services he performed for his country, town, community, whatever. He said his experiences while covering the Gulf War as a reporter were the cause of his hawkish views on Iraq. While that may be true, it's also true that he was in the Persian Gulf region for professional and personal gain, not volunteer or service reasons. Again, nothing wrong with that, but it sure doesn't put him in much of a "morally admirable position."
  And, I am a little disturbed by people who have given little, or have little to lose themselves, advocating war. I don't know exactly why, but I'd feel better if President Bush had a son or daughter in the Army. Or at least a close friend he'd have to look in the eye someday and explain why his son was dead.
Dennis Robertson, Tukwila


Honorable Abe
  Michael Kelly is a good chickenhawk example of "it takes one to know one." Not having a Vietnam experience included anxiety of military service for all eligible draft-age men. However, many did not or could not avoid the draft and served our country honorably. Others volunteered to help defend this country, and both volunteers and conscripted served with honor and distinction, and many gave the ultimate sacrifice.
  Kelly's rationalizations notwithstanding, his defense of the indefensible chickenhawks is intellectually arrogant. Going to war - any war - is not about chickenhawks or chickendoves or military service or lack of it.
  He does not seem to know much about history, either. Abe Lincoln actually served in the Illinois Militia during the time of Indian unrest (Black Hawk War) in what was then the West.
  Gen. Robert E. Lee said it best: "It is good that war is so terrible, lest we become too fond of it."

Jim Davis, Coulee City


Sauce for the goose

  Is Michael Kelly really so obtuse that he doesn't get the significance of the term "chickenhawk"? Or is he hoping to steer us away from that significance? Let me assist.
  The word chickenhawk has particular ironic resonance right now. While President Bush was calling for a unilateral attack on Iraq, the following military experts were telling us not to go it alone against Saddam Hussein: Gen. Schwarzkopf, Gen. Wesley Clark, Gen. Michael Rose and Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni (the president's special envoy to the Middle East). It's the stark contrast in opinion between these decorated military veterans and the Bush administration that made the "chickenhawk" word popular.
  Secondly, I'm guessing Kelly doesn't like the word because it points out the hypocrisy of conservative commentators. Remember when President Clinton was called a draft-dodger and a coward, and therefore unfit to command our military? Now that our leaders who evaded military service are on the right, such name-calling is "reactionary thinking." It's not so much fun when the shoe is on the other chicken's foot, is it?
Dan Green, Seattle