“”I will do anything in my power to support our military, short of enlisting.
“”I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never knowThe hell where youth and laughter go.
|—Suicide in Trenches by Siegfried Sasson|
A chickenhawk is a person in a position of public prominence or power who displays two traits:
- Aggressive support for military force as a primary instrument of foreign policy.
- A documentable lack of combat experience (usually despite having the opportunity to fight, or even actively dodging it).
The Bush Administration (2001–2009) had an abundance of these creatures. Indeed, after the resignation of Colin Powell, there was no one with genuine combat experience in any prominent executive position. In fact, several of the listed Chickenhawks below were notable draft dodgers, especially from Vietnam. This probably led to their policies being based on dangerously abstracted notions of the nature and efficacy of war.
Those who have witnessed the horrors of war first-hand tend to be cautious about willfully unleashing such havoc again, no matter how remote or foreign the field, with, perhaps, the notable exception of John McCain, who seems to jump at the chance of bombing the tar out of someone at every chance (then again even he doesn't share the Chickenhawks' fondness for torture). As well as not appreciating the full human costs of their decisions, there remains the uncomfortable suspicion that chickenhawks are prepared to send others to risk their lives in ways that chickenhawks would never risk their own.
We have yet to parse the nature of the Obama administration, however chances are a few will turn up there.
Note: Knowing the alternative and possibly unsavoury meanings of political labels is wise, as any Teabagger could tell you. "Chickenhawk" is also a slang term for a man who likes 'em young. Real young. Young enough to go to prison over.
 Prominent chickenhawks
“”This is the problem with civilians wanting to go to war. Once you've been there, once you've seen it, you never want to go again unless you absolutely have to... It's like France.
|—Lt. Gen. Miller, In the Loop|
Here is a short list of prominent chickenhawks:
- Glenn Beck
- Tony Blair (dishonorable mention)
- George W. Bush
- Margaret Thatcher
- Dick Cheney
- Tom Delay
- Larry Elder
- Newt Gingrich
- Sean Hannity
- Christopher Hitchens
- William Kristol
- Scooter Libby
- Joe Lieberman
- Rush Limbaugh
- Trent Lott
- Ted Nugent
- Bill O'Reilly
- Dan Quayle
- Karl Rove
- Paul Wolfowitz
 Special category
- Every Representative and Senator who voted for the Iraq War, but avoided serving if and when it was possible for them, and did not recant or repudiate their vote by the end of 2005.
 See also
- The New Hampshire Gazette ("the nation's oldest newspaper") is the home of the original Chickenhawk Hall of Shame.
- Chickenhawk Playing Cards were produced to honor the chickenhawks' contribution to war, since, of course, it's not real unless someone makes a deck of cards to commemorate it.
- Chickenhawks at commie Michael Moore's web site.
- Sourcewatch also reports on the phenomenon, but they include Pat Buchanan on their list which is ridiculous since Buchanan has opposed every war since the Berlin Wall came down.
- Flight of the ChickenHawks from toostupidtobepresident.com.
- "Chickenhawk" (video), a song by Roy Zimmerman
- Tony Benn, President of the Stop the War Coalition, takes John Bolton to task on being a chickenhawk. (Longer version)