This essay originally appeared on TomDispatch
How come they get to be the hawks? And we get to be the doves? A hawk is a noble bird. A dove. Well, basically it’s a pigeon. The sort of bird that, in New York City anyway, messes your building’s window sills, is always underfoot, and, along with the city’s rats, makes a hearty lunch for the red-tailed hawks which now populate our parks.
Even a turkey would be less of a turkey than a dove. We get to carry that olive twig–okay, they call it a “branch”–around in our beaks, but you can bet your bippy that they get the olives, or, more likely, the opportunity to trample the olive groves into oil.
They get to swoop and prey. We get to pace the sidelines, cooing our complaints. Their ideas–it never matters how visibly dumb they are–get tried. Ours never do. And when theirs fail miserably, they get to recalibrate and try again. We never get to try once.
That’s because it’s well accepted that they are “realists” and we are “dreamers,” or “utopians,” or maybe, like most doves, vegans. If you’re not addicted to force (and so failure), you’re simply not a part of the grand scheme of things, of the world as it is.
They get hundreds of billions of dollars to play with. We don’t get bus fare to Washington. Oh, and then, at about the point when everything they’ve planned for has gone to hell, they suddenly turn to us and, claiming we’re just so many naysayers, ask belligerently what the hell we’d do now. What’s our plan anyway?
Even though they have a dismal record when it comes to predicting what their plans will do, they don’t hesitate to explain to us with complete confidence just what sort of catastrophes our ideas will surely lead to. If we force them to withdraw from such-and-such a country in such-and-such a way, we’ll be responsible for nothing short of “genocide,” or ensure that a nuclear weapon goes off in an American city, or worse. And the media believes them, despite the fact that they’ve been proven wrong time and again, and so gives them carte blanche as “experts.”
I’m talking, of course, about the US military’s top brass (uniforms and all those medals are just so imposing!), the key civilians in the Pentagon, the rest of the national security establishment, the hordes of think-tank strategists in our capital, and the political leaders who go with them. Talk about failing upwards! Despite everything, hawks rule; doves never even get the chance to take off. And as the novelist Kurt Vonnegut used to say, so it goes.