What the ‘Neocon Chickenhawks’ Have Wrought

An outgoing congressman takes stock of years of American foreign policy disaster.

Members of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard transfer Capt. David A. Wisniewski’s casket to a caisson while HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters fly overhead during his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Aug. 23, 2010. Wisniewski died July 2, 2010, from injuries suffered during a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. (Credit: SSgt Gina Chiaverotti-Paige/Public Domain)

The 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice to end World War I has generated a lot of discussion and articles about the so-called “Great War.”

Most of the neocon chickenhawks who so eagerly led us into the disastrous war in Iraq seemingly want to be regarded as modern-day Winston Churchills.

They might be very surprised to read Scott Berg’s great biography of Woodrow Wilson, which quotes Churchill as saying: “America should have minded her own business and stayed out of the World War,” meaning World War I.

Churchill told William Griffin, editor of the New York Enquirer newspaper in August 1936: “If you hadn’t entered the war, the Allies would have made peace with Germany in the Spring of 1917. Had we made peace, then there would have been no collapse in Russia followed by Communism, no breakdown in Italy followed by Fascism, and Germany would not have…enthroned Nazism.”

It is amazing how often one war leads to or causes another one.

It is also amazing how cavalier those who have never fought in war can be about sending others to fight and even be killed or maimed.

It is a sad commentary on our recent history of unnecessary but seemingly permanent wars that the most anti-war president that we’ve had in the last 70 years has been Dwight D. Eisenhower, a career military man and leader in World War II.

Eisenhower’s most famous words came in his farewell address at the very end of his presidency when he warned against the excesses of the military-industrial complex.

I believe he would be shocked at just how far we have gone down the road he told us to avoid.

Less famous are the words from his first major speech as president when he spoke to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in April 1953.

In that address, he called peace the “issue which most urgently challenges and summons the wisdom and courage of our whole people.”

He added: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

President Donald Trump seems to have good instincts, having spoken out against the war in Iraq and said we should not be paying so much of other countries’ defense bills.

Just as importantly, in December 2016, five weeks after winning the election, he criticized the $400 billion F-35 program and said there should be a “lifetime restriction” on top military officials going to work for defense contractors, the famous revolving door at the Pentagon.

However, the president has thus far not brought home any significant number of troops. He’s also bragged about his big increases in defense spending.

Defense spending has more than doubled since 2000. I opposed most of President Barack Obama’s programs, but it is false to say he decimated the military when defense spending went up under both Presidents Bush and Obama.

By some estimates, we now spend almost $1 trillion a year on defense and defense-related programs. Additionally, Congress gave the Defense Department more than $200 billion in relief from the very ineffective budget caps that were in place from 2013 to 2017.

Now, of course, we are entering our 18th year of war in Afghanistan, are supporting the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and are operating 800 military bases around the world.

Our very determined but very foolish neocons, not embarrassed at all by the foreign policy blunder in Iraq, continue to demand sanctions and ever-tougher action against Iran.

Stephen Kinzer, longtime foreign correspondent for The New York Times, wrote that “violent intervention (by the CIA) in Iran seemed like a good idea in 1953, and for a time it appeared to have succeeded. Now however, it is clear that this intervention not only brought Iran decades of tragedy, but also set in motion forces that have gravely undermined American national security.”

He added that “the results were exactly the opposite of those for which American leaders had hoped.”

Those words could be applied to almost everything we have done in the Middle East over the last many years. Our unnecessary wars and other diplomatic initiatives there have caused much more harm than good and have created even more enemies for the U.S.

Too many members of Congress are afraid to vote against or even criticize defense spending for fear of being called unpatriotic. I hope more will begin to realize that our recent wars have been more about money and power than any real threat to this nation.

And I wish they would consider the words of columnist John T. Flynn, written in 1956, about what he called the “racket” of using government money to buy votes.

“In pursuit of this racket,” Flynn wrote, “the politicians are confronted by the problem of finding defensible activities on which to spend. There must be visible in the spending some utility to justify the heavy taxes. Of course, the oldest racket for spending the people’s money is the institution of militarism.”

We need more people to heed the dictates of the Bible, where it tells us in both the Old Testament and the New to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14 and 1st Peter 3:11).

John “Jimmy” Duncan, a Republican, is the U.S. representative for Tennessee’s 2nd congressional district.

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32 Responses to What the ‘Neocon Chickenhawks’ Have Wrought

  1. Uncle Billy says:

    God save us from chicken hawks and chairborne rangers. They are determined to send other people’s children off to war. This old Marine says Hell no to them.

  2. DrivingBy says:

    “the most anti-war president that we’ve had in the last 70 years has been Dwight D. Eisenhower, a career military man and leader in World War II.”

    One who can fight and knows when to abstain from fighting is priceless. That said, we’d be far better off if he’d continued the war in North Korea until the Communists were expelled entirely. I’m sure the ‘conservatives’ here who oddly can find no right in free-ish market countries and no wrong in communist regimes will be appalled, but that war needed to be won. Such hindsight is of course easy; among other obstacles, Ike was present with false, pessimistic intelligence about enemy capabilities.

    Eisenhower was real patriot and one of the best Presidents in our history, I rank him above Lincoln. If he ran today, he’d be accused of toxic masculinity, white privilege, sexism (because he was straight), and probably Islamophobia. Pat Buchanan would denounce him for being on the wrong side of WWII, Antifa would call him a Fascist. We will not have another President like him, and today we don’t deserve one.

  3. DrivingBy says:

    “violent intervention (by the CIA) in Iran seemed like a good idea in 1953…”

    That wasn’t Eisenhower, it was a rogue elitist, Kermit Roosevelt. After previous machinations to overthrow Mossadedgh failed, State ordered Roosevelt NOT to assist the pro-Shah faction. Disobeying direct orders, he provided a small but well timed assist to them, and the coup succeeded. So, the guilty party is your basic limosine liberal proto-Communist.

    I must say was shocked to see that this was written by an actual Congressman. We’re in the age of Maxine Waters, David Vitter, Alexandria deCortez (or SansCortex) and the like. While it’s probably frustrating to be an actual patriot while in Congress, I wish this guy was staying on.

    and another thing …
    While the Bible exhorted the Israelites to seek peace, the Koran exhorted the Mohammedians to confuse, enslave and crush the unbeliever. Shortly after that, the Mohammedians took the Arabian subcontinent including the land of Israel, much of Africa, Asia and nearly consumed Europe. 1400 years later they are finishing the job, exterminating the handfuls of remaining Christians and miscellaneous sects ‘wherever they find them’.

    If you want a peace other than death, then design peace and prepare for war.

  4. A TAC Volunteer says:

    Very sorry to be losing a congressman from my home state who has talked sense about important matters. I hope you decide to resume public service at some point. Sometimes it seems that something akin to Gresham’s law obtains with respect to politicians. In any case, we need more like you.

    God bless you, Honorable John Duncan.

  5. Fran Macadam says:

    Guns are our butter now.

  6. Connecticut Farmer says:

    The Churchill quote is ironic, given that only four years later he would be begging the Roosevelt Administration to enter WW II. We can ever know for sure if events would have unfolded the way Churchill describes them. In terms of the rest of this piece, however, there is nothing with which I can disagree.

  7. UGA Oldtimer says:

    A tip of the hat to Mr. Duncan.There’s a great story of 2 young men on a steamer down the Chesapeake shortly after the Civil War, admiring the beauty of their native VA, and remarking how,if the yankees didn’t leave them alone, they’d just have to fight them again. An older man nearby overheard them and asked which regiment they’d served in during the late war. They replied that unfortunately circumstances had prevented them from actually serving in the war. The older man replied something like “Well I did serve, and I can tell you, I had my bellyfull of it,sir, my belly full of it”
    The older man was Joseph E. Johnston.
    Flag waving cannon pointers make quickly to the rear before the shooting starts.
    Thucydides should be assigned reading and should be studied in our schools.

  8. PAX says:

    Very well put. Guns or butter is no new economic dilemma. When it comes to neocon wars their guns appear more valuable than our butter. Take a walk around our impoverished streets and ask why do we have so many wars, misplaced foreign aid that sometimes is used to subjugate, and an immigration process that displaces local workers enmasse? Trump and Hillary both represented the highest ideals of one-eyed neoconism; ask not what your country can do for America, but what it can do for our indispensable allies?

  9. TomG says:

    Excellent post! If only MSM would give the mic to the likes of these representatives instead of the constant blare of the McCain (RIP)/Graham/Bolton crowd. We never have recovered from the mistakes of Wilson and subsequent presidents seem hell-bent on topping his arrogant foolishness.

  10. Kurt Gayle says:

    Six House Republicans–including Congressman John Duncan of Tennessee–and one independent joined 126 Democratic members of the House of Representatives in voting NAY, on October 11, 2002, to the unprovoked use of force against Iraq.

    Thank you so much, Congressman Duncan, for your years of tireless work for the US national interest and the cause of peace. Have a great retirement, sir. You richly deserve it.

  11. david says:

    The only point I want to argue about this article, and like in many anti-war articles, is the characterization of those unnecessary wars as “neo-con” wars.

    No, they are bipartisan wars, almost-consensus wars. Just look at which democrats voted for the 2003 Iraq war – it looks like the list of who’s who in the power elites of democrat party.

    This is how dire the situation for the nation is. Having a military budget that dwarfs the next 10 nations combined is still not sufficient. The nation has been kidnapped by the military industrial complex and all its evil followers.

  12. One Guy says:

    Bolton on North Korea: The first summit accomplished nothing, so we need to have another.

    And people still support Trump.

  13. Gary says:

    Well done.
    I remembered the cheers Ron Paul would get during his runs for president, at the debates and at his rallies, when he said it was time to bring the boys home, and end the wars and our status at the world’s policeman. And those were Republicans!
    Trump smartly picked up on this sentiment, even if he didn’t mean it.
    Many Democrats as well are worn out by endless military spending and wars, but their 2016 candidate offered them nothing, just more of the same on militarism and a confrontational foreign policy.
    While many held their noses and voted for her, I suspect enough stayed home or voted third party to keep her out of the White House.
    I believe a majority of voters would support a platform proposed by candidates along the lines suggested by Congressman Duncan–a de-militarization of our society to one fit for our own defense, but not so large that our bought-out leadership can continue looking for wars to fight.

  14. Gunther Furbush says:

    The ideas in this article are interesting. Many are valid. But the key Churchill quote re: the US and WW1 doesn’t sound like him.

    A bit of quick research shows that the quote is in dispute. See paragraph 6 of this review of Berg’s Wilson book. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/books/review/wilson-by-a-scott-berg.html

    Another biographer, Andrew Roberts, portrayed his attitude to the US at that time in a very different way in this Smithsonian article. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/when-churchill-dissed-america-180970541/

  15. Pogo says:

    David I believe you’re spot on and I suspect Congressman Duncan would agree. He uses neocon since that moniker applies to the Iraq war debacle. But in terms of modern geopolitics, neocon and neolib are 2 sides of the same coin, each one scrambling to outdo the other for domestic political purposes.

    Heads, America is screwed over by warmongers.
    Tails . . . America is screwed over by warmongers.

  16. Hexexis says:

    “President Donald Trump seems to have good instincts, having spoken out against the war in Iraq and said we should not be paying so much of other countries’ defense bills.”

    Not sure “instincts” best used in the foreign policy arena; besides, these Trump instincts is a code phrase for “What’s in it for me!”

    Otherwise, Trump “having spoken out” against Iraq debacle only after that became fashionable & once the Pres. was convinced he wasn’t short a single dime little’s changed w/ regard to paying other countries’ defense bills.

    & Does the outgoing Congressman need reminding that the US of A does not follow the dictates of the Bible but of the Constitution? Yet another lame, romantic-idealist, Tweet-like column by someone w/ easy access to media being passed off as an epiphany.

  17. Patrick Constantine says:

    Mr Duncan please join Tulsi Gabbard on a pro-american, anti-war ticket for president in 2020! It may be our last chance before this republic is swallowed up by its perpetual debt and war machine.

  18. EliteCommInc. says:

    ““violent intervention (by the CIA) in Iran seemed like a good idea in 1953, and for a time it appeared to have succeeded. Now however, it is clear that this intervention not only brought Iran decades of tragedy, but also set in motion forces that have gravely undermined American national security.”

    Uhhh, that was an inside job and the CIA role vastly overstated. As for CIA influence, the CIA could not stop the Shah’s secret police from engaging all manner of rough stuff responses, the idea that the elite intent on ousting Pres Mossedeqh carried the day is hubris to hubris and nonsensical hype. That coup would have occurred even without CIA involvement. In fact, it was intended with or without USA assistance.

    ————————–

    The WWI assail by Sir Churchill is a tougher counter factual. But I would offer this, despite the loss Russia to the communists, truly an unfortunate occurrence, Versailles could have made much wiser (reasonable) terms of peace. The manner in which they carved up territory, ignoring ethnic loyalties – which were no secret, the exorbitant penalties placed on Germany considering the dirth of the regions economic fortunes would have made all the difference in the world.

    Yet, in the comment lies a subtle wrinkle, despite US involvement — nothing prevented the warring parties from coming to peace terms – save themselves, before, during or after 1917.

    His real beef and rightly so was to the communists.

  19. TS says:

    Winston Churchill’s postwar regrets of America’s sacrifice of 110,000 men in WWI begs the question of the Lusitania, which was set up so that the U.S. would enter the war. (Eric Larson’s book Dead Wake).

    DrivingBy: Sir, you forget that our incursions toward the Yalu River brought in the Chinese, about 2.7 million of them, and the backing of the Soviet Union air force. Thus, signing an armistice rather than attempting to “expel all the communists” was very much the better part of valor, then as much as now.

    Re Kermit Roosevelt’s coup in Iran, part of his plan to ally the Arab states with the U.S. as they got out from under European colonialists, was backed by the State Department, and President Eisenhower, who gave him a medal for his work. And Frank Wisner didn’t fire him, he stayed in the CIA for another 6 years, so “rogue agent” really doesn’t apply.

  20. well-wisher says:

    Best wishes for a fulfilling retirement, Congressman! Do us all a favor. 1) Try to make sure your successor has at least some of your qualities, and 2) and don’t completely exclude the possibility of another run!

  21. furbo says:

    Well, considering Hon. Duncan served Three Decades in Congress….one has to think “physician, heal thyself”….I appreciate that he voted against the Iraq war, tho must point out that he voted FOR Afghanistan…so. And according to F35.com that wretch of an airplane has a $42M impact on Tennessee’s economy annually with 500 jobs and 4 suppliers in the State. This is a large issue with our defense budget – the need to ‘pass the wealth around’ to every district. If CONGRESS…you know like the 30 year career guys….would allow the DoD to rationalize their procurements (let Boeing or Lockheed build the plane how they see fit) and close uneeded bases…even in their districts…they could shrink the budget pretty quickly. As to this often seen quote: “operating 800 military bases around the world”….no. This includes every three person defense attache in an embassy, unmanned antanae, and European sub installation (because you cannot build a large base there).

    As to the Neocons. I despise the term. Their utopian ideology is 100% Wilsonian – in no way conservative.

  22. Steve Naidamast says:

    The fact that Churchill said in later years that the US should have stayed out of WWI is a rather moot point.

    Churchill was a “war lover” and explicitly expressed himself as only feeling alive when involved with a conflict.

    People who admire Churchill have little idea what was really behind that rotund figure’s personality and only remember some of the things he said that made it into the mainstream.

    Churchill heavily promoted Brtian’s entry into WWI and was just as eager to get Britain into WWII. In both cases he sought US aid and intervention. The fact that he regretted it later says very little positive about this cretin.

    Eisenhower, was a monster just as much as any other thug who inhabited the White House with the exception of JFK. He was responsible for the death of millions of German civilians and POWs after WWII and while president of the US was quite happy to use Special Forces and Black Ops to accomplish his adventurism abroad.

    I wish Conservative outlets would stop using this man as some type of role model for the US presidency. He was in fact, quite mediocre in that department…

  23. George Hoffman says:

    I totally agree with Uncle Billy’s comment at the top. I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam at the 12th USAF Hospital at Cam Ranh Bay AFB (31 May 1967 – 31 May 1968). All of these bloody thirsty neocon warhawks have never been in a war.

  24. Eileen Kuch says:

    Steve, I wholeheartedly agree with you, with regards to Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Are you at all familiar with the website TomatoBubble.com, by any chance? The website’s managing editor is Mike S. King and he’s written a number of good books, three of which deal with both Churchill and Eisenhower, both of whom were monsters. The three books Mr. King wrote are: “The Bad War”, “The British Mad Dog”, and “I Don’t Like Ike”.

  25. PAX says:

    Tulsi Gabbard’s name came up with Duncan’s in the comments for 2020. That would be a real choice from K. Harris (trust me, a dyed in the wool San Francisco treat), Clinton, Trump, and the usual suspects. Then MSM would act like Gabbard and Duncan had gone to Mars as they did with Ron Paul.

  26. phree says:

    The John T. Flynn quote reminds me of “War is a Racket” (1935)by then retired Marine General Smedley D. Butler:

    “War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”

  27. Brian James says:

    All Wars are Banker’s War’s!

  28. Brian James says:

    “Can a nation be free if it oppresses other nations? It cannot.” Vladimir Lenin

  29. Brian James says:

    All Wars are Banker’s War’s!

    The Great War came about shortly after the Federal Reserve Act was passed through Congress exactly the same way Obamacare was passed through Congress. History does not lie, but politicians do!

  30. Ah, yes, The Great Capitalist Conspiracy. As for that great humanitarian Lenin, he was responsible, in league with co-butcher, Josef Stalin, for the greatest slaughters and murder orgies in modern history, though Mao finally managed to surpass their blood-stained achievements. In comparison Adolf Hitler was a kindly and noble humanitarian.

  31. Flip says:

    I’ve read that Churchill denied making those comments.

  32. Robert says:

    Brian James said, “All Wars are Banker’s Wars!” and he was right. It would be far more accurate to refer to NATO as NABO: North Atlantic Banker’s Organization- the real winners and perpetrators of the never-ending undeclared war.
    And do not give Trump any credit for a few crumbs thrown to those who oppose this- he chewed Boeing out for gouging the taxpayer on the F-35, and then rolled over, giving them everything they wanted plus a $billion for a jumped-up airliner known as Air Force 1. He also talked about balancing the budget, but lied again- the national debt is skyrocketing. It is time to put an honest businessman in the White House- the kind who would be happy flying alone with the crew of a business jet and not a chorus of psychophantic reporters.

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