Just some thoughts based on an email conversation with a friend. The conservative supporters of the Iraq war denounce those who favor a pull-out because their legislative efforts “demoralize the troops” and thus make them worse off. Now what sense does this make, given that a withdrawal of troops would presumably take them out of danger’s way?
Possibility #1: These conservatives take it as given that we will not, in fact, pull the troops out. So considering the legislation without actually passing it doesn’t bring any troops home, but it does make the troops feel like the nation isn’t behind them. This leads to lower morale on the front.
Possibility #2: Maybe the legislation will succeed in bringing troops home. Nevertheless, any withdrawal will take place over a period of time. The troops that come home relatively early will be better off, but those who remain longer will be worse off – first because they will be more outnumbered by the enemy, and second because they will be demoralized by the lack of support. We could even imagine a situation where more troops get killed as a result, despite some troops coming home, because those who remain longer will suffer a higher death rate than they otherwise would.
I suspect #1 is the actual position of many conservatives. Moreover, because they want us to stay in Iraq, they deploy the demoralization/lack-of-patriotism argument in order to shut up their legislative opponents. It’s a cynical attempt to shut down debate by saying the very act of debating is harmful to the troops.
#2 is a more respectable position, I think. But if it’s correct, it argues in favor of swift withdrawal rather than gradual troop reductions. Yet conservatives seem to prefer a long, extended withdrawal (if any withdrawal at all). When they talk about withdrawal dates, they are always in the distant future – as if the Democrats’ proposed date of 2008 weren’t distant enough.
I favor swift withdrawal, before the condom slips off.