Jane Galt wonders why people say they support the troops but oppose the war:
This is not Viet Nam, the war whose mistakes both sides seem grimly determined to avoid. All of our troops are volunteers. From what I can glean, a landslide majority of them support this war. In essence, they are going over to a foreign country, bearing immense personal hardship to do so, in order to fire deadly weapons at perfect strangers. If you think this is the kind of horribly wrong thing that most anti-war protesters, to judge from the signs, do, why on earth would you declare your support for the people carrying it out? It's like saying that you're against murder, but simultaneously declaring your "support" for the DeGenovese foot soldiers whacking errant customers.
To me, asking whether or not I "support" our troops is rather like asking whether or not I "support" taxi drivers. If I think on it a bit, then yeah, sure I support them. They serve a useful function. But it is not a very concrete sort of support - it is just a general feeling of acceptance of a useful economic function, combined with an acknowledgement that people make it happen.

The war is a bad idea for America. It will hurt us in three ways: in promoting nuclear proliferation; in wasting our valuable wealth; and by making more terrorists hate us. But it is, or at least can be, good for (most) Iraqis. The war, in a social vacuum, would be just. On that basis I can support the troops (who cannot influence other nations nor terrorists).

Maybe "support" is strictly affiliational: do I feel sympatico to American soldiers? I do, and I have a long history of fascination with both soldiers (of all nations) and with Americans and things American. I am an American. I certainly identify much more with American soldiers than I do with, say, Iraqi soldiers, or even civilians. The Americans speak English (my language) listen to rock and rap; they eat burgers, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Tex-Mex, and pizza when they can; they know the Simpsons and Star Trek; and they understand in their gut the concept of individual liberty. In other words, they are like me. I get the feeling a good part of the "support" question is really cultural narcissism; conservatives can't believe that anyone would really feel closer to foreigners than to her own countrymen. I rather agree with them on that.

Or perhaps "support" strictly means financial. In that case, I have two answers. I do, perforce, support the troops; for I am taxed, and will be taxed in the future, to pay their salaries. Taxes are not voluntary. I don't want to be taxed for this purpose (and any others, for that matter). I'd willingly pay for a certain level of defense, but surely not one that tempts its executives to distant foreign adventure. So in that second sense - voluntary payment - I do not support ("oppose"?) the troops.

In recent history, roughly one-third of the federal budget is the military. Another third or so is interest and debt, which has been run up in part by military spending in the past. So I'd guess that near to half of our federal tax dollars are paying either for the current military or for the costs of previous ones. So, here's another way to look at the question: if you were offered a choice to check a box on your 1040, "opposing" (and defunding) the troops, and in so doing would pay half as much tax - would you? I would. I invite conservative readers to think on that.

Do I think America is on the wrong track? Yes! But do I love America anyway? Yes! Isolationism is patriotic.

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