Wednesday, August 10, 2005

How Do You Know What Someone Believes In?

By his actions. And Publius has a must-read post on what the actions of war supporters and the American people in general say about their belief in the Iraq war.

Let’s say that you are someone who claims to believe so strongly in this cause that you are willing to advocate war and punish political opponents who oppose it. Yet, given the severe manpower shortages, you also choose not to go fight it. I think it’s perfectly fair – especially if you’re a College Republican without children – to question just how sincere your beliefs are that this war is worth it. It’s not so much that I think pro-war people are being consciously dishonest. It’s that many of them haven’t examined the true nature of their beliefs. If they or their loved ones were suddenly faced with combat, the abstract pro-war words would peel away leaving only the searing reality of potential death or disfigurement for the cause. And at that moment, and not a second before, we can know what you really believe by what you choose to do.
...[Y]ou can tell from the actions of both the administration and the nation that people’s hearts are not in this war. Again, not from their words, but from their actions. For example, the draft is not even whispered by an elected official in Washington (well, ok, 99.9% of elected officials). That’s an extremely telling action. If people really – really – believed in this war, they would be willing to accept a draft. But it’s worse than that. The American public won’t accept – indeed, are not asked to accept – even the tiniest sacrifice for the war effort. No new taxes to fund armor. No new taxes on gasoline to limit dependence. The President won’t even press people to sign up for the military (one sentence in passing, last I checked). And we are all familiar with the recruiting shortfalls.

These are all signs that people fundamentally don’t believe in this war. I base that not their on their words, or their responses to polls, but their actions. They are unwilling to sacrifice and elected officials are unwilling to ask them to. And elected officials fail to do so because they know the American people don’t really believe in this war when push comes to shove. The American people are tolerating it because the costs have been externalized to military families and the Iraqi people. Bill Kristol doesn’t have to worry about his house being blown up for freedom. George Bush doesn’t have to worry about his daughters dying. The costs of war are externalized. If the costs were ever internalized in the form of a draft or higher taxes, the American people would literally be up in arms. And that action would be a better indicator of their beliefs than any words they might say.

Bottom line, people don’t believe in this war. Maybe they did at one time, maybe they didn’t. But when your heart is not in a war, you lose it.

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