Given all the publicity afforded Michael Moore, Howard Dean and Cindy Sheehan, how has the anti-war contingent of the Left (or Right) affected US foreign policy?
The Senate voted Friday to give President Bush $50 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. military efforts against terrorism, money that would push total spending for the operations beyond $350 billion.
...by a vote of 97-0.
...without the President even making a request.
Senators rushed to finish the bill before leaving Friday for a 10-day recess because military officers have informally told them they will need the money by mid-November to continue war operations. The Bush administration has not formally requested more war money
Given the fact that Senator Leahy didn't bother to vote, one might presume he began his 10 day recess early.
Significantly, all the Senators who are up for re-election in 2006 voted yea.
All who might have Presidential dreams voted yea.
And even Senators Feingold and Boxer, who are sponsors of legislation that would force the President to submit and conform to a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, also voted yea.
So what does that tell us?
It tells us that members of the Senate have done the political calculus and have determined that the majority of their constituencies support finishing the job in Iraq even if some portion of them did not support the invasion.
It tells us that Michael Moore, Howard Dean and Cindy Sheehan have failed to impact national policy in this regard.
Because if there really was widespread opposition to the war in Iraq, Feingold and Boxer's Senate Resolution 171 would not be worded in the following way
Recognizes that stability and democracy in Iraq are in the U.S. national interest.
Expresses the sense of the Senate that: (1) the United States should remain committed to providing long-term diplomatic and political support to Iraq; (2) the United States should continue to pursue a robust and multi-faceted campaign against international terrorist networks in Iraq and around the world;
It would be more insistent in a Cindy Sheehan sorta way. It would be more like the legislation introduced in the House by the anti-War wing of Woolsey, Conyers, Kucinich, McDermott et al which reads
Expresses the sense of Congress that the President should: (1) develop and implement a plan to begin the immediate withdrawal of U.S. Armed Forces from Iraq;
Because while Representative's constituencies are much smaller concentrations of political views, Senators must represent a whole state and if they have Presidential ambitions, they must also be in touch with the national mood.
And at least some understand the geo-political stakes even if their rhetoric would lead many to believe otherwise.
Because it is quite clear to those who are paying attention that the President and al Qaida agree on the stakes in Iraq.
The letter of instructions and requests outlines a four-stage plan, according to officials:
First, expel American forces from Iraq.
Second, establish a caliphate over as much of Iraq as possible.
Third, extend the jihad to neighboring countries, with specific reference to Egypt and the Levant -- a term that describes Syria and Lebanon.
And finally, war against Israel.
U.S. officials say they were struck by the letter's emphasis on the centrality of Iraq to al Qaeda's long-term mission. One of the two excerpts provided by officials quotes Zawahiri, a former doctor from Egypt, telling his Jordanian-born ally, "I want to be the first to congratulate you for what God has blessed you with in terms of fighting in the heart of the Islamic world, which was formerly the field for major battles in Islam's history, and what is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era."
But bin Laden's deputy also purportedly makes clear that the war would not end with an American withdrawal and that anything other than religious rule in Iraq would be dangerous.
The American people see this.
The Senate sees this.
The President sees this.
Even if Michael Moore, Howard Dean, Cindy Sheehan and the sponsors of H.CON.RES.35 can't.
A consensus has been reached by the people of America, the Congress, the President and even al Qaeda that the War in Iraq is key.
And only victory matters.