KAREN ELLIOTT HOUSE of the Wall Street Journal referred recently to some of President Clinton's foreign policy advisers as "dawks -- deeply committed doves on every recent foreign intervention from Grenada to the Persian Gulf who suddenly have assumed the plumage and cry of Balkan hawks."
Nice word, but we can't use it in that meaning in this columns. We will explain why shortly. But first, a little language lesson:
The dove has always been considered a symbol of peace, but the hawk as a symbol of war is something sort of new. The office Merriam-Webster's unabridged second edition that was published in 1934 does not define a hawk as a belligerent person. Nor does our 1961 third edition. But the firm's 1983 ninth collegiate edition does: "a supporter of war or warlike policy."
This usage apparently was popularized after the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when reporters Charles Bartlett and Stewart Alsop described in a magazine article some John Kennedy advisers (such as Adlai Stevenson) as "doves" and some (such as Robert Kennedy) as "hawks."
Sometimes the words of diplomacy and international affairs not only take on new meanings but new reputations as events affect ordinary people's assessment of those events. For instance, "appease." In that 1933 unabridged, it is a term of praise, defined as: "To reduce to a state of peace; to pacify often by satisfying demands."
By 1961, after the diplomatic failures leading to World War II, lexicographers at Merriam-Webster added: "To conciliate or buy off a potential aggressor by political or economic concessions; usually at the sacrifice of principles." They gave this example of that usage: "the attempt to appease the Nazis at Munich."
Now, as for "dawks." We used that word in an editorial two years ago to mean "doves in war, hawks in peace." We were referring to Maryland's two U.S. senators who voted against going to war in Iraq, then for cutting off aid to Jordan after the war was over for supporting Iraq.
So we can't use it to mean two different things.
Besides, we think there is a more appropriate term for the people Ms. House describes. Since they favor military action in the Balkans only, and since some Washington observers believe they are just winding up and won't follow through, we would call them "Balks."
TRIVIA gleaned from obituaries of winemaker Julio Gallo, who died at 83 this week.
He and his surviving brother, Ernest, were worth a combined $1.3 billion.
Gallo wine grosses $1 billion a year.
Gallo sells 150 million gallons of wine annually -- 26 percent of the U.S. market.
Not bad for a guy with a high school education who loved laboring in his father's vineyard.