Conservatives have repeatedly tried to argue that opposition to President Bush’s escalation in Iraq undermines the troops. In January, Vice President Cheney said that a resolution opposing the Bush’s escalation would hurt the troops:
It won’t stop us, and it would be, I think, detrimental from the standpoint of the troops.
Rep. Duncan Hunter reiterated this talking point today, stating, “I do not think you can send a message that is going to raise the morale of the troops while at the same time sending a message that we don’t support the mission.” But in their testimony before the House Armed Services Committee today, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Peter Pace and Defense Secretary Robert Gates disputed these arguments.
Pace: As long as this Congress continues to do what it has done, which is to provide the resources for the mission, the dialogue will be the dialogue, and the troops will feel supported.
Gates: I think they’re [the troops are] sophisticated enough to understand that that’s what the debate’s really about.
Gates, apparently, has had a change of heart. On Jan. 26, he declared that any Iraq resolution opposing Bush’s escalation plan “certainly emboldens the enemy and our adversaries.”