Hawkish Doves, Dovish Hawks

Politics and policy.
April 17 1999 3:30 AM

Hawkish Doves, Dovish Hawks

The confusing taxonomy of Kosovo.

25000_25408_kuper_dove

Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, you may remember, opposed the Gulf War on the grounds that Iraq's conquest of Kuwait was just one "nasty little country invad[ing] a littler, but just as nasty, country." So what does Sen. Moynihan think of American intervention to stop nasty little Yugoslavia's invasion of littler, but almost as nasty, Kosovo? He's a hawk.

Advertisement

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer declared before the Gulf War, "If a small, heavily militarized regime can stand up to a global blockade [and] the opprobrium of the entire world ... and still emerge intact and in possession of the fruits of its aggression, the message to every other potential aggressor and victim will be clear: There are no rules in the post-Cold War world."

So what's Krauthammer's view of the small, heavily militarized Yugoslav regime that is standing up to a global blockade and the opprobrium of the entire world? He would leave Yugoslavia intact and in possession of the fruits of its aggression. He's a Kosovo dove.

Kosovo is performing a zoological alchemy on America's foreign policy leaders. Hawks have mysteriously become doves, doves have inexplicably become hawks. Kosovo has upset the traditional taxonomy and replaced it with what appears to be chaos.

But it's not chaos. Here's who is where on Kosovo, and how they got there.

David Plotz David Plotz

David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.

Doves Into Hawks

1. The Europeanists

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., is the stellar example of this category, which includes other Democratic legislators who opposed the Gulf War. The Europeanists are pragmatic rather than moralistic about Kosovo. Biden opposed intervention in Somalia, Haiti, Lebanon, and Kuwait. But he's hawkish on Kosovo because it's in Europe, and Europe, unlike the Persian Gulf and East Africa, is a vital American interest. America, Biden likes to say, is a "European power." (The Europeanists are also NATOists. They say NATO will be ruined if it doesn't stop Milosevic, so the United States must support the alliance.)

The Europeanists' claims are somewhat disingenuous: It's hard to argue that benighted, bankrupt Kosovo is a more vital American interest than oil-rich, centrally located Kuwait. So there is another, unspoken, reason why the Europeanists favor intervention: a Democratic president.

2. The Liberal Humanitarians (a k a Red-Tailed Hawks)

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories to the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
Outward
Oct. 22 2014 9:00 AM Wailing Against the Pansies: Homophobia in Whiplash
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 9:19 AM Nine Actors Remember Their Famous Horror-Movie Deaths
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 8:43 AM Thunderstruck: Rock Out With Mother Nature’s Evil Side
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 22 2014 7:30 AM An Illusion That Makes Me Happy and Sad
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.