“This so-called ‘supplemental’ isn’t about supporting troops,” writes Laura Flanders for The Nation, “this blank-check bill is about sacrificing them.” Similarly, I was recently invited to join the Facebook group “Support The Troops, End the War”, a John Edwards initiative that also has a conventional website here.
The messaging point here is pretty clear. “Support the troops,” has proven to be a useful slogan for people who really intend to demand support for the incumbent administration’s foreign policy. The point that it’s odd to support the troops by indefinitely prolonging their exposure to a hazardous and futile situation has, moreover, real merit. However, as Spencer Ackerman writes in The Washington Monthly, liberals can ill-afford to fool themselves into thinking that by pushing for an end to the war we’re supporting the actual expressed desires of the troops.
There are, of course, anti-war soldiers who want nothing more than to come home. But the evidence suggests that they’re a distinct minority, and that support for continuing the war is much stronger among active duty soldiers than it is among the general population. If liberals ever do succeed in ending the war, we can expect that many of the soldiers who actually served in the war will happily embrace the right’s stab in the back theory, that the war was lost by its opponents rather than by its architects.