My fellow liberals have been effectively using the “chicken hawk” label on those Republicans who support the war in Iraq but whose own personal contribution to that war effort has been relatively non-existent. In the movie Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore made some pretty good hay out of that alfalfa and it is interesting looking at the various military records (or lack thereof) of most Presidential candidates. Is it fair to take into account the lack of a military record when it comes to president? The last president to fight in a war was George H.W. Bush. Bill Clinton’s lack of a military service was a source of great contention during his presidency and George W. Bush’s questionable commitment to his military service surfaced in his campaigns for office.
On the Republican side this time around, there is of course John McCain. Without a doubt, McCain served his country honorably. It is interesting that his views on the use of torture diverge from his fellow Republican candidates who never were in harm’s way. Perhaps he realizes that when we justify torture of prisoners, we no longer have the moral high ground to insist others refrain from it. This puts our own soldiers at greater peril.
Particular interest in the chicken hawk debate concerns Utahns and their relative contribution to the war effort. Individually, there have been many who have sacrificed greatly in the Iraqi war. However, collectively Utahns have not made as big of a contribution per capital as the people of most other states. Does this fact influence Utah’s continued support for the war effort? This could be viewed from several directions? Certainly, there may be many Utahns who support the war but have no one close to them risking their lives in this enterprise. However, among those who do have someone close to them engaged in this effort, I’ve noticed a greater likelihood that they would support the war. People support those things for which they’ve made a sacrifice. Often times it is harder to concede that those contributions are in fact, “sunk costs.”
I admit that I often play “devil’s advocate” with my fellow Utahns when they shout the praises of the Bush Administration and the wars the administration have engaged us in. Admittedly, I mostly talk to friends and relatives whose kids aren’t joining the military but are opting for religious service and college. None of my own nephews or nieces have considered the military an option nor have most of their friends. I’ve needled people whose commitments to the war seems to be mere lip service and flag waving. Is the fact that Utah stands as the Bush Administration’s last bastion of support due to risking less in Bush’s wars? I haven’t made my mind up yet on this question. However, if we are going to continue on in this war, I have some proposals that I think should be considered.
1- A draft without deferments for college or religious service
2- Expand the military so the war on terror doesn’t leave us vulnerable on other fronts
3- Refine the training in the military and create more units that specialize in counter-insurgency tactics
4- Raise taxes to pay for re-armament, improved military pay and benefits and a more realistic commitment to reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan.
5- Re-commit to the provisions of the Geneva Convention regarding torture