When a tense situation between countries, factions, or nations breaks out, there will usually be those who advocate going to war as the only option. They tend to be extremely aggressive and vocal in their position, and may view those who dismiss warfare as an option as cowards or idealists. War Hawks will often appeal to the general population for support to bring pressure on their ideological opponents to declare war.
Just because the War Hawk wants war does not make him/her a bad guy. They may have a perfectly good and logical reason to advocate military use, including stopping a genocidal dictator or attempting to end a civil war in a neighboring country that is threatening security in the region and killing thousands. Often they fear that the other side is planning to attack as well and want to beat them to the punch. However, War Hawks often run the risk of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope or becoming a Well-Intentioned Extremist who find a flimsy Pretext for War or create a False Flag Operation to gain support for their cause.
Evil War Hawks will want to use the war for their own purposes. They may hope to ride the glory of the war to a higher political office or military rank, or to take over the government entirely. Others will be motivated by simple territorial or economical desires, while General Rippers and Blood Knights advocate for war just to fight against their desired enemy.
The term War Hawk was coined by Virginia Congressman John Randolph in the early 19th century, in reference to American politicians like Henry Clay who were advocating war against Great Britain due to allegations of impressment of American sailors by the Royal Navy and claims that Native American attacks on United States territory were being encouraged by British officials in Canada. However, many of the War Hawks came from inland territories who neighbored Canada and had their eyes on expanding Americas borders northward. The War Hawks efforts led to the War of 1812.
Not to Be Confused with the video game Warhawk, or a hawk or another Big Badass Bird of Prey that is used in combat.
Since this trope could naturally lead to some rather heated political debates, No Real Life Examples, Please!.
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Anime and Manga
Gundam seems to have characters like this in almost every series.
Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Ali Al-Saachez is a warmongering Blood Knight who incites conflict for no reason than that he enjoys fighting. Before the events of the series, he managed to gather a number of young children into a terrorist organization by wearing the mask of a prophet. To prove their loyalty to 'God' these children were tasked to murder their own parents as an initiation. They were then sent to fight in a hopeless battle in which many were killed. During the series Ali is one of the most vocal supporters of the conflicts that occur throughout the story.
Dorothy Catalonia is a subversion. At first she appears to fascinated by war to the point of obsession. She is a vocal proponent to conflict, frequently clashing in views with Relena Peacecraft. In truth, she's been traumatized by the horrors of war, and her warmongering is merely a façade to hide her insecurities.
General Septem in the Alliance government. This gets him used as a pawn by O.Z. and then promptly disposed of.
In The Walking Dead, Jesus wants the Hilltop to join Alexandria and the Kingdom in a war against The Saviors. Hilltop leader Gregory opposes him because he is worried how potential blowback might affect him if the Saviors win. Gregory is eventually overthrown by Jesus supporters after trying to side with the Saviors.
Film — Live Action
In The Two Towers Grima Wormtongue accuses Eomer of this for advocating that Rohan go to war against Saruman and uses it as an excuse to exile him. This is after Eomer turns up with hard evidence that Saruman struck first, namely orc armor painted with Saruman's insignia.
General Decker from Mars Attacks! sees the Martian armada, and immediately calls for all-out warfare. Unfortunately, the President listens to the foppish Professor Kessler, who calls for dialog and mediation. It doesn't end well for the pacifists.
Just about all the men in Gone with the Wind want to go to war with the North, except for Rhett Butler, whose explanation of why secession is a very stupid idea falls on deaf ears.
Thirteen Days: Many of the Joint Chiefs, particularly Gen. Curtis LeMay, keep advocating Kennedy invade Cuba to forcibly remove the missiles installed there, despite almost certain Soviet retaliation against a US ally somewhere.
In Kingdom of Heaven Guy de Lusignan and Reynauld de Chatillon want the Kingdom of Jerusalem to go to war with Saladin and the Muslims, motivated by religious intolerance and the potential for glory. King Baldwin does his best to keep peace while Reynauld and his Templars try to provoke war by raiding Muslim caravans, but when he dies Guy becomes king and murders an envoy sent by Saladin to force war.
Media mogul Elliot Carver tries to trigger warfare between the United Kingdom and the Republic of China in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies so that his news network can broadcast all the gruesome fighting and monopolize the industry.
Star Trek: Into Darkness: Admiral Marcus is shown to be a strong advocate of taking action against the Klingons, since he figures it's only a matter of time before they do, and that's before it's revealed that he's actually trying to engineer a war.
Lord "Bronze" Yohn Royce is the most prominent supporter of The Vale entering The War of the Five Kings on the side of Robb Stark. He and his supporters are constantly rebuffed by the isolationist Lady Lysa Arryn, who refuses to support her nephew Robb or involve The Vale in the war at all. It is later revealed that Petyr Baelish influenced Lysa into ignoring Yohn and his supporters in order to leave The Vale's army intact for his own plans.
Obara and Tyene Sand both want war with the Lannisters after their father dies in a duel with Ser Gregor Clegane. Their proposed wars differ significantly though: Obara wants to invade the Reach and burn Oldtown as a start, while Tyene prefers starting a defensive war by crowning Myrcella Baratheon queen and forcing the Lannister's to try invading Dorne. They stir up discontent among the commonfolk and nobility to try to force their uncle Prince Doran to go along with one of their plans.
Octavian in The Heroes of Olympus is the most vocal in Camp Jupiter about going to war against the Greek demigods, and when Leo, possessed by an eidolon, starts firing on the camp, thereby giving him a reason, Octavian eagerly jumps on it and whips the Romans into a war frenzy.
The Lord of the Rings often has the protagonists acting as examples of heroic War Hawks, especially in The Two Towers in which Gandalf must convince Théoden to prepare for an imminent invasion by Saruman and Merry and Pippin must convince Treebeard to join in the war.
Red Storm Rising has the USSR short on oil after a terrorist attack. Instead of asking for oil, the PolitBureau comes up with A Simple Plan: invade Europe, take out NATO and then seize the Persian Gulf.
The Sontarans from Doctor Who are a entire cloned species of War Hawks, with most of them desiring only to wage war against other species.
The Maquis style themselves as The Resistance and believe that war with the Cardassians is inevitable, and thus wage their own war against them while trying to draw the Federation into it. Instead, they chase the Cardassians into the arms of the Dominion and are wiped out.
Gul Dukat watches as the Maquis and the Klingons wipe the floor with his military. When Kira helps him capture a Bird of Prey with a list of targets and Klingon supply lines, Dukat has a breakdown when the new civilian government wants a diplomatic solution. Cue Dukat staging a one ship war then forging an alliance with the Dominion and then war against the Alpha Quadrant.
The Klingons have this as their hat, as Worf points out, the Empire feels it's gone soft. Gowron launched the invasion of Cardassia because they might be under control of changelings on the advice of his chief War Hawk General Martok who's really a changeling, irony at it's finest.
MythQuest: Strong Bear was in favour of continuing the Nez Perce's war with the Blackfoot, despite the fact that the Nez Perce were vastly outnumbered and severely decimated. He manages to sabotage the peace talks for a brief period of time.
In the BattleTech universe, the Clans are divided into Crusaders and Wardens, both interpret the vision of their forefather Alexandr Kerensky and his son Nicolas differently. The Crusaders wish to cut a swath through the Inner Sphere to conquer Terra and establish a new Star League, thereby uniting humanity and subduing all others, while the Wardens want to stay out of the Inner Sphere and watch over it as protectors, defending them from other, unspecified entities should the need arise. Inside clan society, ALL Clanners could be considered war hawks (they even have a mech that goes by that name!), owing to their cultural norms of solving every conflict by force if one of wishes so. In the larger scale of things, the Crusaders are the ones seeing war with the "barbaric" Spheroids as the only options to attain their goal.
Many hive-level crusades in Warhammer 40,000 are started by particularly vocal priests who whip the population into a frenzy, resulting in Torches and Pitchforks against anyone accused of being a mutant or not faithful enough. Law enforcement either encourages them or arrests them, depending on how productive these crusades are.
Jiang Wei of Shu in the Dynasty Warriors series is constantly pushing for war against Wei. This ends up bringing about the end of Shu since Wei is stronger and Jiang Wei suffers major defeats.
In the Mass Effect series, quarian admiral and General Ripper Han'Gerrel is the biggest supporter of the quarians going to war with the geth to reclaim his species' homeworld. Tali's father Rael'Zorah is also a supporter of going to war against the geth.
Garrosh Hellscream in World of Warcraft becomes increasingly vocal about his support for war with the Alliance throughout the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. When he becomes Warchief in Cataclysm, his goals are realized, and they get turned Up to Eleven come Mists of Pandaria.
In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Hrongar, the younger brother of Jarl Balgruuf the Greater of Whiterun, is constantly agitating for the city to enter the Civil War on the side of the Empire. Jarl Balgruuf can even be overheard telling Hrongar to stop pestering him with his war-mongering. Ulfric counts too, with his opposition to the peace treaty with the Aldmeri Dominion (eventually going to war with the Empire over it).
In an entire species and culture of harmony and pacifism until provoked, Wild Star's Arwick Redleaf is the one who's screaming for war and military action almost as much as the actual Commander.