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The Return of Brave Sir Robin

January 28, 2007

“Monkey on my back” Rob Asghar, has taken up residence at The America Bug again. Therein he deigns finally to eat with this particular sinner, as well as strike a more irenic tone in our dialog, to which I respond in his comments.

Remember as you read that our mutual friend and commenter Tim (aka “the diaper inspector”) is held up as “the genuine article as a Christian” and I in contrast, (one infers) am not, that this is an improvement.

The only thing that “bugs” me is that after all this time, Rob recently saw fit to invoke the chicken hawk argument. So in that spirit, I reserve the right to occasionally refer to my friend as Brave Sir Robin:

I guess I could agree to enlist if one of the peace-loving stability loving sages will agree to move to Baghdad once the Americans leave. That’s when the blood bath’s really going to get started.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2007 11:38 am

    I guess I could agree to enlist if one of the peace-loving stability loving sages will agree to move to Baghdad once the Americans leave.

    Um, this is not the most precise contrapositive directed at principled Iraq war detractors, most of whom have opposed OIF since it was just a neocon pipe dream.

    Feel free to challenge war opponents to move to beautiful downtown Baghdad after the Americans have restored the status quo ante bellum, you know, the Pottery Barn principle.

    BTW, I gather that your core suggestion here is that the “chicken hawk” line of argumentation is inherently invalid, improper, lacking in rhetorical integrity. But isn’t a challenge to “do as I do, not as I say” fundamentally a call to integrity? I contend we can legitimately apply Biblical wisdom such as James 2:14-26 here, casting the contention that this is a moral and wise and winnable war in the role of James’ nuts-and-bolts put-up-or-shut-up characterization of faith.

  2. January 29, 2007 12:18 pm

    So sad. I think even Victor Davis Hanson would have a hard time understanding your anti-contrapositive. I didn’t even know you supported the Contras!

    This issue is what will our actions precipitate now? Will leaving magically bring the violence to an end? Saying it don’t make it so. And if it does bring the much vaunted peace stability, what does that mean? After criticizing the invasion for enabling a sectarian Shiite majority, we simply hand it to them and let Iran meddle in an even more unimpeded fashion?

    I was trying to point out in a gentle kidding kind of way how useless these kinds of arguments are. Are we going to start telling Rob to move back to Pakistan if it’s so great there and terrible here? No way.

    We are are called to different roles in society, much as we have different spiritual gifts.

    Are we all supposed to be soldiers? How absurd? Yet Rob seems to imply that a Christian can’t even take a job at the Pentagon. Get real. Letting evil prevail becaue we are to impure to stop it perfectly is a call for moral paralyisis that leaves the tongue as the only moving part of the body.

    I’d much rather be one of our soldiers freed to complete his mission than a Iraqi that favored democracy after the Coalition retreats before law and order has been restored. No one is making the argument that the Iraqi’s are ready to go it alone. Yet there seems to be considerable political pressure to do just that because the going has been hard. Nothing could seem more selfish to me than that.

    The military would not accept me, being fat, old and legally blind. I am willing however to sacrifice my pride and good standing among friends in support of their mission. Anything more at this point would be wasted suffering.

    General Petraeus said the going will be “hard, not hopeless”. Hope is not a policy, but it is good Christian practice. I will not be ashamed of it.

  3. January 29, 2007 2:52 pm

    Hi Andrew P.,

    Integrity means that if you describe President Bush as a chicken hawk, then you must also describe President Clinton, President Lincoln, and most other past and probably future United States presidents as chicken hawks.

    Integrity means that if you believe a person must have fought in a war to be president of the United States during time of war, then you must require all candidates to be former soldiers during a time of war or outlaw the use of military force by any United States president.

    One position means that the United States must constantly be at war and the other position precludes the United States from ever going to war.

    Is that what you want?

  4. Tim C permalink
    January 29, 2007 7:59 pm

    Technically I think you have to be a member of the political phylum “hawk” to be the sub-phylum of “chicken-hawk”…

    And although Lincoln, Clinton and other wartime presidents who never fought in a war (Wilson and FDR) were arguably not afraid to pull the military trigger when they needed to, it would be hard to historically call either Lincoln or Clinton or FDR as strongly pro-war “hawks.”

  5. January 29, 2007 8:13 pm

    Didn’t dubya campaign on “no nation building”? I’m not sure he was a natural hawk either. It could account for why his prosecution of this war has been so awkward.

  6. January 30, 2007 7:41 am

    Hi Tim C.,

    I chuckled at your comment, and then I began to wonder if you were being serious.

    Were you being serious?

  7. January 30, 2007 11:41 am

    The only people who qualify in my view as chicken hawks are those who actively avoid going to war themselves and who later stand up and preach that war is noble and necessary and and moral and efficacious and that alternatives don’t exist and that the time to strike is now, now, now.

    You can include Bill (“Cheerio, Bloke”) Clinton as well as Dick (“Five times the charm”) Cheney here, as you deem appropriate (some of this will come down to whether Bosnia ~= Iraq). Do risk-free National Guard stints (W, Quayle) count? Do you gain chickenhood if you later speak out against the particulars of your moment of glory (Kerry)? As you point out, David, making this a hard and fast rule results in ridiculous policy paradoxes. But there is a principle here.

    I’m mostly concerned in my response with armchair chickenhawkery. James says what you believe is evidenced by what you do. Don’t call your opponent to a level of commitment that exceeds your own. If you want to convince me, show me by your actions (I suppose these would constitute constructive suffering as opposed to “wasted suffering”). This doesn’t have to mean packing an M-16 through Anbar, but ought to be more than mere jawboning.

    Dennis Prager yesterday mentioned that he as a younger man had marched in some anti-Vietnam rallies, believing at the time that winning that war was not worth the cost. He went on to say the recollection now makes him feel “dirty” because he thinks only of the evils of the VC and communist North. What I didn’t hear him admit is how compromised this makes his current pro-war stance, or assent that there are those who have consistently and correctly argued against OFI’s rationale, conduct, and worth, and thus who have a stronger rhetorical standpoint.

    I did not march against the Iraq war. I wish I had. Now that my older son is old enough to know that “there is a war,” and I tell him that some people think the war is good and other people oppose it, I realize how hollow it will be, someday when he’s old enough to comprehend it all, if I include myself in this latter category, essentially without any evidence.

  8. January 30, 2007 12:14 pm

    Thanks Andrew P.,

    Your explanation makes sense to me. Anyone and everyone who uses coercion or force to make someone else do something they could do but won’t do themselves is the most despicable hypocrite. Not everyone is physically or mentally qualified to serve in the military, though, so it is not necessarily hypocritical to advocate a war even though the advocate can not serve.

    However, I think you have to allow for an opinion to change over time as new evidence is assimilated and as a person matures. It is far better to have a slightly compromised opinion than a wrong opinion. Iraq has similarities to Viet Nam, but it is not the same as Viet Nam.

    I have no reason to believe that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Dennis Prager, or anyone else who supports the war in Iraq would not serve in Iraq if they met the requirements to serve. If you have evidence, then a label of “chicken hawk” or worse is appropriate.

    I actually ache that I can’t serve in Iraq due to my age. I contacted the Marine Corp about returning to active duty and they said thanks but no thanks. I want both of my daughters to know that Iraq is so important to the future of the world that it is worth the risk of my life. I will encourage both of them to consider a military career, but I will allow them the freedom to choose otherwise.

    The freedom we have been given through spilled blood is the freedom we are fighting for. This is true both in the Christian sense and the American sense.

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