Although I bristled at his arrogant and jingoistic tone {"Double Talk From War Protesters," op-ed, Feb. 7}, Juan Williams did raise an interesting point and reminded me of my own quandary in deciding if I could "support the troops" while strongly opposing U.S. military presence in the Gulf.

The decision to go to war is made by policy makers and carried out at the lowest level by enlisted personnel. While many of our enlisted personnel joined out of a desire to defend the United States and its interests (as perceived by policy makers), many undoubtedly had other motives -- job opportunities, training, extra cash -- and were perhaps less than certain of their feelings about war, patriotism and service to country. We are, after all, talking largely about a group in their late teens and twenties, prone to impulse and not always sure of their values. This was obvious at the start of troop deployment in August, as many reservists expressed reservations about being sent to the Gulf, perhaps realizing the significance of their initial commitment.

Naive? Perhaps. But certainly understandable to a generation raised in a prosperous, peacetime America where the only images of war were movie-screen glorifications a` la "Top Gun."

We in the protest movement acknowledge that, in Williams's words, "troops are risking their lives to execute a difficult job . . . stopping Saddam Hussein." Yet surely we can simultaneously oppose U.S. involvement and, if not support what the troops are doing, respect their sacrifice and make it clear that we don't hold them responsible for the policy which sent them. -- James R. Odom

The peace movement learned a great deal from Vietnam. Juan Williams apparently did not. Williams seemed to resent the idea that people who disagree with him about the wisdom of this war can be patriots who support the troops.

Williams linked participants in the war with the policy of the war, relying on polls that show that 80 percent of Americans approve of the war. What if 80 percent believed the war wrong? Must we then regard the participants as, in his words, instruments of evil? We've been down that road before, and it was the wrong one.

Suppose we apply Williams's logic to the White House: President Bush claims that he has no quarrel with the Iraqi people and that Saddam Hussein is the reason for this war. Yet Saddam isn't being killed -- it is the Iraqi people, whom Bush apparently wants to support.

-- James R. Wetekam

One does not have to believe that Saddam is a "Third World revolutionary hero" to be opposed to military action. Many responsible people, including one quoted by Juan Williams, realized that some action needed to be taken but felt military action at the time was unnecessary. Polls taken before the war showed Americans split almost evenly on this issue -- the fact that George Bush backed himself into a corner, both politically and militarily, was no reason to go to war.

I do not doubt that Williams wants our soldiers to come home safely, but I would appreciate a realization on his part that this opposition is not an attempt to demoralize our troops. It is the best way many people can find to try to ensure that we do not continue to make the same mistakes. -- Doug Prouty