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
. 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
open/close all folders
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.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing:
- 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.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny:
- 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. This is prevented from being a Wall Banger because Saruman is controlling Theoden and the actual guards have been replaced with a bunch of thugs.
- 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.
- Both sides of the movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes provide examples:
- On the ape side, Koba is a highly vocal advocate for war with the humans; he was a lab chimp while human civilizationnote was still strong and despises them for it. He contrasts with chieftain Caesar, who was raised by a loving human "father" and wants peace. When a small group of humans comes into ape territory looking to get a nearby dam in operation to restore power, Caesar agrees to let them do it, reasoning that if they don't, the humans will attack; Koba is furious at this, saying that if they allow the humans to regain their strength, they will be slaughtered, and the apes should crush the humans while they are weak. After being denied his war too many times, Koba near-fatally shoots Caesar, burns the ape colony to ashes, and pins it on the humans, rallying the apes to war.
- On the human side, Dreyfus fits the bill, though to a far lesser extent than his ape counterpart Koba. When his scouting party finds the aforementioned dam, Dreyfus is quick to jump on the solution of simply slaughtering the apes - he apparently still has not quite gotten his head around the fact that they can think and simply views them as aggressive animals. When he sends his second-in-command Malcolm (who is a peace advocate, provoking a contrast similar to Koba and Caesar) to negotiate with the apes, he mobilizes his forces for an attack should the negotiations fail. However, unlike Koba, he is willing to give negotiation a chance.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country features two groups of war-hawks. The Klingon hawks advocate war against the Federation before resources run out and it becomes impossible, the Federation hawks advocate taking advantage of the new Klingon weakness to solidify their position and be in a better position to dictate terms later. The two groups — with some Romulan assistance, presumably because they'd quite like a Federation-Klingon War weakening both their main rivals — work together to sabotage the peace negotiations.
- On Fail Safe, Professor Groeteschele is an academic example (not just because he's an academic), insisting on not letting the current crisis go to waste and follow up the accidental first strike that provides the film's plot with a very real second strike by the American nuclear arsenal, hoping to catch the Russians unaware and winning the Cold War. He is quickly put into place by the military higher-ups (who are already horrified enough as it is), calling him as no different from those he wants to kill.
- 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 Reynard Cycle:
- Duke Nobel is the most notable example from the series. He believes (perhaps correctly) that only superior military force, and the will to use it, will reunite the fractious nation of Arcasia.
- In Defender of the Crown, Count Terrien calls for war on no fewer than three separate occasions, once against a country that was allied with his country. Cooler heads prevail in all three cases.
- There are a few examples in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
- According to George R.R. Martin, the Knights of the Vale's opinions on the war are varied. Many of them, Lord Yohn Royce in particular, want to go to war to avenge Jon Arryn (who Lysa said was murdered by the Lannisters), but Lysa refuses.
- 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.
- 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.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has three tragic examples of War Hawks causing a lot of trouble and destruction:
- 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.
- Babylon 5 had several:
- Londo Molari wanted the Centuri to be "great again" and to punish the Narn, leading to his alliance with the Shadows.
- G'kar was a War Hawk until the Centuri occupation and events caused him to become more spiritual.
- The Minbari Warrior Caste was this, until the Shadows showed up.
- Earthforce and President Clarke were desperate to get its hands on any technology to get a military edge, even if it was Sealed Evil in a Can.
- JAG: In the episode "Act of Terror", we have Percival Bertram a wealthy businessman (looking like a Corrupt Hick) who supports right-wing conservative politicians and brands himself as a super-patriot (i.e. a Warhawk) advocating that the U.S. (pre 9/11) should take gloves of with respect to terrorists to U.S. interests in the Middle East. However, the alleged super-patriot finances terrorism in the Middle East against U.S. interests (supposedly to create a self-fulfilling prophecy gaining his own business interests.)
- 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.
- Imperator Essachan Sherruk from Eclipse is vehement in his avocation for international military intervention against Skuurnur after one of their commanders invaded a neutral country. When a refugee fleet of that same country gets attacked, Sherruk again calls for war just on the mere suspicion that it might have been Skuurnur, to hell with any investigation in the matter. The twist is that he flat-out said that he's only really concerned Skuurnur might curry favor with some defense contractors that he's interested in courting for his own empire.
- 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, WildStar's Arwick Redleaf is the one who's screaming for war and military action almost as much as the actual Commander.