That is the quintessence of the academic abuse of history which is the Achilles heel of this argument: Saying you would have supported a war whose outcome is known and whose post-war disposition has been realized is the antithesis of saying you would support that war during the most bleak years when victory was a fleeting mirage.Of course, if you asked any of these anti-war, armchair troop supporters, what they have done to "support the troops" you are far more likely to receive silence as your response than anything else.
Supporting the troops is an easy way of being politically correct, but as Mella point out, it is position completely lacking in backbone. More to the point, it insults our troops' intelligence.
As a veteran, the son, grandson and great-grandson of veterans, with a brother now in Iraq and a brother-in-law soon to be in Iraq, I can tell you that our troops understand the code behind "support the troops, oppose the war." What it really means to them is that you lack courage of conviction. People who support the troops, but oppose the war lack the ability to make a choice to take a stance on a war whose outcome is uncertain and whose end is unknown. These brave men and women willingly fight and die even for people who oppose their own point of view on the war. They understand that in a democracy, people are going to have differing opinions and have the right to express those opinions. After all, soldiers swear and oath to defend the Constitution.
But these smart men and women have a difficult time understanding how someone can be waffling so bad on such an important issue, for they are waffling. Soldiers have a far greater respect for someone adamantly opposed to the war and then says so. They may not agree, but the respect a person's viewpoint. But to straddle the fence on the issue implies that supporters of the troops want to have it both ways, to cover their bets no matter what the outcome. If the U.S. wins in Iraq, these people can say, "see I supported our victorious troops" with no credit to the winning strategy of civilian authorities. If we lose in Iraq, either militarily (which I doubt) or politically, these wafflers have the luxury of saying "see I told you so."
Compounding the problem is the presence of so many of our elected leaders in the "support the troops but not the war" camp. If Joe Schmo on the street falls into the camp, it is disheartening but in the grand scheme of things, doesn't carry that much impact on matters. But when so many elected leaders in Congress fall into that camp and the trend is toward growth, we have a moral vacuum at the top of our power pyramid that demoralizes the very men and women who fight for our country.
Leadership takes conviction and courage and too many leaders lack either. Imagine the impact on troops if their commanding general "supported the troops, but not their mission." Lack of esprit de corps and fighting effectiveness would the least worries of those troopers. Chaos and command failure are more likely and those are conditions that strike fear into the hearts of fighting men and women more than the prospect of a hailstorm of artillery.
The fact that our leaders in Congress lack teh courage of their convictions is more demoralizing than any single factor in Iraq, including the presence of terrorists, stifling heat or evever present sand. Supporting the troops but not the war demonstrates an utter lack of conviction and moral fiber and our troops deserve better.