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Oct 15, 2021
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Bird words

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raven messenger
war hawk

war hawk
Cartoon: Steve Sack, Star-Tribune

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with Anu Garg

war hawk

(WAR hawk)

noun: One who advocates war, military intervention, or other aggressive measures.

After hawk, a bird of prey + war, from Old English (werre) + hawk, from Old English heafoc. Earliest documented use: 1792.

A war hawk (or, simply, hawk) advocates war, a dove (or, peace dove) peace. Then there’s the species chicken hawk, which clamors for war only to send others to fight and do the dirty work while staying safely behind. Most war hawks are simply chicken hawks.

The term war hawk was especially applied to members of the 12th US Congress (1811-1813) who advocated for war with Britain. Among other motives for the war was the annexation of Canada. They got their war, now known as the War of 1812. The British burned the White House and the Capitol, among other federal buildings. The war ended in 1815. Some 25,000 died. It was a draw.

The US national anthem came out of this war. The lawyer Francis Scott Key went to negotiate with the British in Baltimore, Maryland, and after a night of heavy bombardment saw a US flag still flying on Fort McHenry. He was inspired to write the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” that later became known as “The Star-Spangled Banner” and was set to the tune of an old English drinking song.

In Nov 1929, Ripley’s Believe it or Not! ran a cartoon with the caption “America has no national anthem!” By Jan 1930, five million Americans had signed a petition to make “The Star-Spangled Banner” the national anthem. The US Congress got into action. It took them just about a year and in Mar 1931, President Hoover signed the bill formally recognizing the poem as the national anthem.

“Our approach to the Middle East is simple. We see a natural resource, or an opportunity to crank up the American war machine, and we go for it. The Clintons and Bushes are two sides of the same war hawk coin. We send our young to fight under the allure of American pride.”
Daniel Cody; Congress in Perspective; The Chronicle (Hempstead, New York); Sep 16, 2021.

See more usage examples of war hawk in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. -Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (15 Oct 1844-1900)

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