Scott Tibbs
blog post
August 30th, 2005

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"Chicken hawk" and other logical fallacies

Rich Lowry has a couple real gems in his column about the Left's "chicken hawk" argument. Here is the first:
By the same token, we could say to proponents of leaving Saddam Hussein in power: “That’s an illegitimate position unless you yourself are willing to move to Tikrit to live for the duration of Saddam’s regime.” Or to supporters of “containing” Saddam: “You’re a hypocrite until you go help patrol the no-fly zone.” Or to advocates of inspections: “You can’t support them unless you don a baby-blue cap and sniff around his suspected chemical-weapons sites yourself.”
And the second:
The chicken-hawk argument is, of course, made in bad faith. If anyone should be — and usually has been — in favor of rigorous civilian control of the military, it is the left. Since when do liberals favor government on the model of Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany, with the military running amok since civilians don’t have the standing to direct it?
Lowry has a good point. The "chicken hawk" argument, in addition to being an ad hominem logical fallacy, is a copout. It is a way for the Left to avoid a substantive discussion on the merits of this war.

But the Left's ad hominems are not limited to calling war supporters "chicken hawks". We've all heard the cries about how President Bush is only after Iraqi oil or that he "lied" about Iraq having Weapons of Mass Destruction.

As to the first claim, can't Leftists recognize that there is simply a disagreement about the war? Could it be that President Bush legitimately thought that Iraq was a threat and that we needed to deal with Saddam's regime? One of the things that poisons American politics (from the national level to the local level) is the idea some have that everyone who disagrees with them does so for nefarious reasons. Sometimes, people just have a different opinion

The claim that Bush "lied" about weapons of mass destruction falls along the same lines. First, some WMD have been found in Iraq, and we know Saddam used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds and against the Iranians in the 1980's. There was a great deal of agreement (even among Senate Democrats) before the war that there was at least a good chance that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling WMD. Could it be that the intelligence was just bad? Could it be that, with months of advance warning that we were coming to get him, that Hussein spirited his WMD out of the country?

Personal attacks by the Left on those who support the war in Iraq contribute to the downward spiral that is poisoning American politics. Unfortunately for them, the Left's cascade of negativity is also damaging their ability to get elected.