Online Journal
Front Page 
 Special Reports
 News Media
 Elections & Voting
 Social Security
 Editors' Blog
 Reclaiming America
 The Splendid Failure of Occupation
 The Lighter Side
 The Mailbag
 Online Journal Stores
 Official Merchandise
 Progressive Press
 Barnes and Noble
 Join Mailing List

Commentary Last Updated: Oct 26th, 2006 - 00:57:23

Chickenhawks in chief
By Ashu M. G. Solo
Online Journal Guest Writer

Oct 26, 2006, 00:55

Email this article
 Printer friendly page

President George W. Bush�s military record is a shameful display of draft evasion, criminal conduct, and eventually desertion while using his father�s connections to unethically gain advantage over other people and escape criminal prosecution. Vice President Dick Cheney used every trick he could to evade the draft and military service altogether. Their evasion of service has significant ramifications in their execution of the Iraq War. Americans should demand more in their president and vice president.

After finishing college, Bush used his father�s connections to evade service in the Vietnam War by jumping over a huge waiting list to get a pilot slot in the National Guard, after numerous other applicants who were much more qualified and who had much higher aptitude test scores were rejected. Then Bush refused a direct and lawful order from a superior officer to take a physical exam, but used his father�s connections to avoid criminal prosecution by court-martial for disobeying a lawful order. Bush obviously refused to take the physical exam because it tested for illegal drug abuse and he would have failed it due to heavy drug abuse for which he was never caught as far as we know. Finally, after failing to take the physical, Bush went AWOL in the National Guard, but again used his father�s connections to avoid criminal prosecution for being a deserter.

As a former military combat officer, I know that in the military, we believe in leadership by example. What kind of example does Bush set for American troops as commander in chief?

Compare Bush�s disgraceful military record to the military record of his last opponent for the presidency. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) could have used his privileged background to evade service in Vietnam like Bush or like Cheney, who finagled five draft deferments. But Kerry volunteered to serve, even though he didn't believe the war was worthwhile, because he knew if he didn't go, another young American would be sent in his place. After giving a college graduation speech in which he denounced America�s policies in Vietnam, Kerry volunteered to serve in the U.S. Navy and then requested duty in Vietnam as a swift boat officer, which was one of the most dangerous combat duties there. During his tour of duty in Vietnam, Kerry demonstrated exceptional valor while leading combat troops into battle. He won a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. Then when Kerry came back home after two tours of duty, he fought to end the war as the most prominent spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Kerry served America with tremendous courage, honor, and distinction during two tours of duty, and to this day, he still has shrapnel left in a leg from his battle wounds.

While Kerry and Vice President Al Gore, Bush�s 2000 opponent for the presidency, volunteered to serve in Vietnam, Bush spent the war, by all accounts, boozing it up and getting stoned, too. Many brave men from Bush�s hometown of Midland, Texas, such as Private First Class Paulino Lopez, Staff Sergeant Kendell Cutbirth, and Captain Robert Zonne, served instead of Bush and died in Vietnam. Bush stayed home, supportive of the Vietnam War, but too afraid to fight for his country. Instead he decided to spend the war in a drug and alcohol induced haze.

Like Bush, there doesn�t seem to be much that Cheney wouldn�t do to avoid service in Vietnam. Cheney applied for and received four draft deferments for being a student at Casper College and University of Wyoming between 1963 and 1965. On August 7, 1964, Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which greatly increased Cheney's chance of being drafted, but 22 days later, he married Lynne. At the time, married men were exempt from being drafted. Hence if student deferments were to become disallowed, his marriage might still decrease his chances of being drafted. But the war kept demanding more troops, and the number of people eligible for the draft rapidly expanded. On May 19, 1965, Cheney was reclassified with the most dangerous draft status. On July 28, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson announced that the number of people drafted would double. Then on October 26, 1965, the Selective Service announced that it would start drafting married men with no children. Married men with children were still exempt from the draft. Exactly nine months and two days later, Cheney�s first daughter, Elizabeth, was born. During the first trimester of Lynne�s pregnancy, Cheney applied for and received another draft deferment. Altogether, Cheney finagled five draft deferments.

This isn�t what Cheney recalled in 1989 during a Senate confirmation hearing to be secretary of defense to the first President Bush. Cheney was questioned about his failure to serve and responded, �I would have obviously been happy to serve had I been called.� Cheney admitted in the same year to a Washington Post reporter that he �had other priorities in the '60s than military service.� Cheney said he had �other priorities� than military service, but many brave men from Cheney�s hometown of Casper, Wyoming, such as Specialist 4 Richard Sweeney, Gunnery Sergeant Robert Grove, and Captain Carlton Holland, served instead of Cheney and died in Vietnam. Cheney was busy with his �other priorities� while supporting the war in which he was too lily-livered to fight.

Cheney�s last opponent for the vice presidency, Senator John Edwards (D-NC), was too young to serve in Vietnam until the war was winding down and the draft had ended. He can be faulted for not voluntarily enlisting in the military to serve in Vietnam when he turned 18, especially if he wants to be commander in chief, but at least he didn�t evade the draft like Bush and Cheney. Also, unlike Bush and Cheney, Edwards didn�t support a war in which he was too frightened to fight.

Kerry opposed the Vietnam War, but volunteered for two tours of duty, requested duty in Vietnam, and dodged enemy fire aboard a swift boat in the Mekong Delta. Bush and Cheney, on the other hand, were supportive of the Vietnam War, but used every dirty trick they could find to avoid serving in it. Then they had the gall to criticize Kerry�s commitment to national defense. Moreover, Bush and Cheney stood by while their surrogates distorted and skewered Kerry�s honorable and courageous service in Vietnam.

Referring to Cheney's criticism of Kerry's commitment to national defense, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), another Navy veteran, responded, �When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil. Those of us who served and those of us who went in the military don't like it when someone like a Dick Cheney comes out and he wants to be tough. Yeah, he'll be tough. He'll be tough with somebody else's blood, somebody else's kids. But not when it was his turn to go.�

The Republican leadership is nearly devoid of war veterans, and yet they are the greatest proponents of staying the course in the Iraq War. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), a World War II veteran, defines a chickenhawk as �having the shriek of a hawk but the backbone of a chicken.� �We know who the chickenhawks are,� he said on the Senate floor. �They talk tough on national defense and military issues and cast aspersions on others, but when it was their turn to serve, they were AWOL from courage. Now the chickenhawks are squawking about Senator Kerry.� The Republican Party, a refuge for chickenhawks, could be called a chicken coop.

The hypocrisy is without bounds. Bush unethically used his father�s connections to get a prized slot in the National Guard and evade service in Vietnam. Then he went AWOL and failed to even complete his military commitment in the National Guard. Now Bush is ordering the same National Guard to combat duty in Iraq and forcing military personnel to serve even after they�ve completed their commitments.

With reckless abandon, Bush taunted the Iraqi resistance fighters saying, �Bring 'em on!� It�s very easy for him to say this when he has never had to face hostile fire and when he unethically evaded service in the war fought by his generation. Bush and Cheney say that Democrats favoring a timetable for withdrawal of American troops believe in �cut and run,� as if they are the courageous ones for staying the course, but they aren�t among the troops facing the prospect of death every day in Iraq. Bush and Cheney were the ones who cut and run when their country needed them in Vietnam.

As a result of their evasion of service in the Vietnam War, Bush and Cheney have no firsthand experience in or appreciation of the risks of war, such as becoming a prisoner of war. Their truancy undoubtedly contributed to them sending American troops into combat without proper body armor and enough armored vehicles. It contributed to them employing policies that created so many more enemies of America instead of winning over hearts and minds in Iraq and Afghanistan. This includes being indifferent to tremendous civilian casualties, allowing Iraqi home invasions, imprisoning numerous innocent people including children, holding detainees for years without charges, eliminating their right of habeas corpus, sanctioning the abuse and torture of prisoners, and gutting enforcement of the Geneva Conventions meant to protect both American and foreign troops. All of these policies created many more enemies and thus many more American casualties.

American troops who become prisoners of war can�t expect to be treated under the Geneva Conventions when Bush and Cheney have discarded of the Geneva Conventions for enemy combatants who become prisoners of war.

The president of the United States is supposed to be the commander in chief of the armed forces, not their chickenhawk in chief. Cheney acts as the de facto behind the scenes president on foreign policy. Neither of these chickenhawks in chief have the moral authority to send troops into combat when they were too scared to serve in the war fought by their generation. Bush and Cheney both supported the Vietnam War as long as they didn't have to fight in it. While they evaded service in Vietnam, many other young Americans died in their place. Why would any veteran or member of the military support someone who shirked his duties when he honorably performed or is performing his duties? Why would any citizen support someone with such a disgraceful military record? How could anybody reward cowardice over courage? Through their actions and words, Bush and Cheney essentially said that if their country needed them, don't come calling on them, but send someone else in their places.

Now Bush and Cheney think they can lead the armed forces and the country. Wake up, America. If they didn't have the courage to serve, how can they claim to have the courage to lead?

Ashu M. G. Solo is an electrical and computer engineer, mathematician, writer, and entrepreneur. He is the principal of Maverick Technologies America Inc. Solo previously served honorably as an infantry officer and platoon commander understudy in the Cdn. Army Reserve. He can be reached at amgsolo(at)

Copyright © 1998-2006 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor

Top of Page

Latest Headlines
Skilling: An epitaph
The politics of delusion and crisis denial
American voters must not reward failure
Foreclosure USA
Degradation of democracy
Will Rogers delivers the Gettysburg Address
Chickenhawks in chief
Charnel house
Selling Satan: Iraqi war dead and the collateral damage to America's soul
What arrogance and stupidity?
Hitchens hitches his future to the Death Star
Political prestidigitation: The Illusion of a two-party system
The woman who would be speaker says, "Impeachment is off the table"
Putin gets mugged in Finland
Israel, Palestine and Canada
Godzilla vs. the Condoleezzard (Celebrating Halloween in the United States of Anxiety)
America is no longer free
The nuclear arms race and national sovereignty
One crime too many
Iraq's Orwellian calamity