In his World Affairs Council address a month ago, McCain emphasized the urgency of taking on Islamic extremism:
[We must] confront the transcendent challenge of our time: . . . radical Islamic terrorism. . . They alone devote all their energies and indeed their very lives to murdering innocent men, women, and children. They alone seek nuclear weapons and other tools of mass destruction not to defend themselves . . . but to use against us wherever and whenever they can. Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all others does not deserve to sit in the White House. . .
passive defense alone cannot protect us. We must . . . have an aggressive strategy of confronting and rooting out the terrorists wherever they seek to operate, and deny them bases in failed or failing states. . . Prevailing in this struggle will require . . . the use of . . . public diplomacy; development assistance; law enforcement training; expansion of economic opportunity; and robust intelligence capabilities. . . Our goal must be to win the "hearts and minds" of the vast majority of moderate Muslims.
If you look at the great arc that extends from the Middle East through Central Asia and the Asian subcontinent all the way to Southeast Asia, you can see those pillars of democracy stretching across the entire expanse, from Turkey and Israel to India and Indonesia. Iraq and Afghanistan lie at the heart of that region.
Comment: McCain is right. Islamic terrorism, because it is asymmetric, is a low-cost, therefore viable, threat to our civilization. We are at war with Islamic extremism right now, and the president must, must effectively lead this war. McCain opposed Rumsfeld’s leadership, favored the surge before the word existed, and fully backs Petraeus’ counter-terrorism strategy. McCain knows we must also be serious about al Qaeda in Pakistan, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and about extremism in Iran. On the biggest issue of our time, he’s the leader we need.