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If that’s what you believe, Mr. McCain, you’ll have to draft me.

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

[Photo courtesy of christhedunn.]

Senator McCain:

You have said that Islamic extremism is:

the greatest evil, probably, that this nation has ever faced…

You have said that you think:

the transcendent challenge of the 21st century is radical Islamic extremists…

You have explained that you:

think it’s clear that this [war in Iraq] is now part of a titanic struggle between radical Islamic extremism and Western standards and values…

You have said that the war in Iraq is the main front in the battle against:

the incredible evil of radical Islamic extremism…

In an interview, you explained that you would:

much rather lose a campaign than lose a war. Because [you] think there’s so much at stake.

You said, as you launched the general election campaign, that you have always:

put our country before any President – before any party – before any special interest – before [your] own interest.

Your website quotes an NPR reporter saying that you are:

of the school where if you’re going to do something you should do it right and you should commit sufficient resources…

You have traveled around the country in a bus called “the Straight Talk Express.”

I bring all this up because if you truly believe we are in this titanic struggle with the fate of our nation and our values at stake and you are willing to risk your candidacy to convince the American people of this, shouldn’t you be calling on all Americans to sacrifice to defeat this transcendent challenge to our way of life?

Why is it that the only things (those of us who aren’t in the military) are being asked to give up are some of our liberties at home and some of our national values as we turn to the “dark side” to defeat terrorism?

If the threat we face is so dire, we obviously need to marshal all of our resources to defeat it.  If we need to win in Iraq and Afghanistan, and if you know that the only thing worse than a war with Iran is an Iran with a nuclear weapons (and Iran seems determined to get nuclear weapons), and as Pakistan destabilizes and if we are truly fighting a generational war and with our military already stretched to a breaking point, and with our civilization itself apparently at stake, we cannot afford to go to war with the military we have – we need to use every societal resource to make sure we have the military we need.  We obviously will need a draft.

Mr. McCain – I believe that we face a very real threat from Muslim extremism.  I remember waking up on the morning of September 11.  I work in the Chrylser Building in Manhattan, and I am aware of the threat of terrorism as I travel the subways at rush hour.  I believe that military measures are necessary as part of an overall strategy to deal with the threat of Muslim extremism – especially in the area of the world where, according to experts, many of these extremists are gathered – from Chechyna, from Al Qaeda, from the Taliban – the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  I believe it is likely that Al Qaeda will strike America again.  I take this threat seriously.

But I don’t believe you are being straight with us.

Why haven’t you laid out some plan, aside from staying in Iraq indefinitely, to marginalize and defeat Muslims extremism?  Why isn’t this plan one of the centerpieces of your campaign?  If we can’t afford to lose this war, why do the measures you propose we take seem so half-hearted?

Everyone has their own experience.  I don’t know what you believe – but I do know that I love my country.  I was a big supporter of yours in your 2000 campaign – sending far too many emails around to my relatives, pasting a bumper sticker onto one of my school notebooks, and trying to convince my friends to support you.  I counted you as a personal hero when you stood up to the Bush administration as it authorized torture, when you stood up to Bush’s irresponsible tax cuts, when you condemned the Swift Boaters for the trash they were throwing in 2004, and when you fought for campaign finance reform.  But now you support those tax cuts and you have made it clear that you believe that the CIA should be allowed to torture.  Your line about Boumediene was shameful.  I don’t mean to be a jerk, but you’re not the candidate I once supported.

This campaign you are running now is far different from your campaign to remake Washington in 2000.  Instead you advocate the preemptive surrender of our values in war-making and the preemptive surrender of our liberties at home.  You speak of Iraq as a kind of American protectorate and confuse the extremely different enemies we face.

If you can convince me that the threat we face is dire enough, I will volunteer in whatever capacity I might be most useful.  If I believed we were facing an existential struggle for our civilization, I would join the military.  If I believed some leader had a realistic plan – based on more than naive hopes of democracy-building by invasion – I would do what I could to help.  As it is, I am doing what I think is necessary to win this war against Muslim extremism.

I believe the problems we are facing are more complex and more challenging than a repeat of the Second World War.  And I believe we need a president who can inspire us to rise to the approaching challenges, who can remain steadfast in defending American values, who will marshal our resources wisely in the fight against Muslim extremism, and who will call on Americans to serve their country to allow us to make it through these hard times and emerge stronger.  I believe we need a president who can lead our nation in this war against Muslim extremism.  That’s why I support Barack Obama.  He’s not perfect, but he understands the moment we are in and the challenges forthcoming better than you seem to.

So, Mr. McCain –

If you can’t convince me, and if you believe your own straight talk about the absolute necessity and urgency of this war, you’ll have to draft me.  And the rest of my generation.  But you’ll have to get enough votes first.

Good luck with that.

Sincerely,

Joe Campbell

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