GRAHAM: They better be, because if we don't destroy ISIL in Syria, which is their headquarters, we're going to get attacked at home. The entire region wants Assad gone, so there's an opportunity here with some American leadership to do two things, which is to destroy ISIL before we get hit at home and also to push Assad out and not give yet another Arab capital to Damascus.
Q: Robert Kagan wrote that the kind of operation that you are recommending could require 40,000 - 50,000 troops.
GRAHAM: I think it will require more than that, but the good news,10% of the force will come from Western powers. The force that we're talking about will come from regional armies from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey. They have regional armies. They would go into the fight if you put Assad on the table. They will pay for this war.
GRAHAM: I haven't been told that by anybody. The holding force would be the region. We're talking about region coming together with a Western component, 90 percent them, 10 percent us. The holding will be done by Sunni Arab states. We will turn to Assad and say, you must go. Russia and Iran will be on the outside looking in to an entire regional army, including Turkey, with Western elements. They will fold like a cheap suit.
GRAHAM: I would form a regional army made of Arabs and Turks; American forces would be part of that army. We'd go in on the ground in Syria. We'd pull the caliphate up by the roots and we would take back land held by ISIL and hold it until Syria repairs itself. That requires American boots on the ground in Syria and we need more American boots on the ground in Iraq if we're going to protect the American homeland.
Q: If the Arabs such as Jordan and the Saudis and the UAE, Egypt, the Turks are eager to get in this fight, where are they?
GRAHAM: They're eager to get in the fight, but they're not going to go destroy ISIL unless we take a side out, too. To get a regional force, you have to accomplish two goals, to go in to destroy ISIL, which is a threat to the region, and also take out Assad, who is a puppet of Iran. Without putting Assad on the table, you're not going to be able to rally the region.ÿ
GRAHAM: Here's what I would do. I would tell the Russians that you're not going to use military force to keep Assad in power. That disrupts the region. It gives Iran more power at a time when they should have less. And the Syrian people are not going to accept Assad as their leader.ÿ So I would tell the Russians, if you want to fight for Assad, that will be your choice, but what you will be doing is fighting the entire world. And let Russia make a decision. And here's what they would do, they would back out.
GRAHAM: Absolutely. Here's what I believe, without adjusting our strategy the worst is yet to come when it comes to ISIL, that the Obama strategy regarding destroying ISIL is not working and will not work. I hope the French will invoke Article V. They should. The world should be at war with ISIL.
GRAHAM: Here's what I've said, I intend to destroy ISIL. They want three things: they want to purify the Islamic faith and take it back to the 1100s, they want to destroy the state of Israel the attack infidels like us. President Obama said he will degrade and destroy ISIL. Sending 50 American Special Forces into Syria shows that Obama is not all in, it is a sign of weakness to ISIL. And to our allies, sending 50 troops means that we're not committed to destroying ISIL. And if we're not committed to destroying ISIL, they will attack us here. These 50 American special operators are going into a very bad spot with no chance of winning and at the end of the day, this will not destroy ISIL.
A: If the Iranians walk away from the table, and tried to break out and get a nuclear weapon, if we can't end their program peacefully, I would stop them. If they get a nuclear weapon, the Sunni Arabs will want a nuclear weapon of their own, and we're on the road to a nuclear arms race in the Mideast. I think a good outcome is to basically leave the interim deal in place and give the next president a chance to conclude a final agreement with the Iranians.
GRAHAM: No. I think it's a transformational moment. There are a lot of upset people who believe in traditional marriage. They're disappointed, they're down right now. But, the court has ruled, so here's where I stand. If I'm president of the United States, here's what would happen. If you have a church, a mosque, or a synagogue, and you're following your faith, and you refuse to perform a same-sex marriage, because it's outside the tenets of your faith, you will not lose your tax-exempt status. If you're a gay person or a gay couple, if I'm president of the United States, you will be able to participate in commerce and be a full member of society, consistent with the religious beliefs of others who have rights also.
A: If you'd asked me the day before the attack, I would've said, "The compromise worked," we took the flag off the top of the dome, moved it by the war memorial, built an African American monument, that worked for most South Carolinians. But after the shooting, it didn't work. My state will never be able to move forward after this shooting if we don't take the flag down. The people at the AME church, the families of the victims changed everything by their grace, by their love, by their forgiveness, making it impossible for a guy like me to say, "Keep the flag up."
Q: When you see the flag now, do you see a symbol of hate or heritage?
A: After this shooting, and after the call for it to be taken down by the families of the victims, I see it as a road block to the future of my state. I see it being in a museum, where people can look at it any way they want.
"The threat posed by ISIL is growing exponentially, and President Obama's lack of a strategy is Commander-in-Chief malpractice," Lindsey Graham said in a statement. The South Carolina senator, who chairs several Senate subcommittees related to foreign affairs, has emphasized his credentials in an attempt to stand out from his opponents. He is a vocal advocate of a more aggressive policy in the Middle East that includes sending troops to Iraq.
An amendment opponent, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) called it "far too risky" because it would derail prospects for signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Asian countries, subject US monetary policies to the threat of sanctions from overseas, and discourage currency exchange rate transparency by countries that export goods to the U.S. The vote, on May 22, was 48 yeas to 51 nays.
NAYS: Sen. Tim Scott R-SC
YEAS: Sen. Lindsey Graham R-SC
A supporter of calling a vote, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), said it accommodated privacy concerns by restricting the set of records related to terrorism investigations that the government can request from telecommunications companies, while still giving the government the powers it needed to stop terrorism.
A bill opponent, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said the bill failed to require companies to maintain telecommunications records for long enough to make investigations effective. The vote was 57 yeas to 42 nays, with 3/5 majority required to call a vote.
YEAS: Scott R-SC
NAYS: Graham R-SC
I would like to clean up the air and water, become more energy independence, create jobs. I'm for offshore drilling. I'm for finding oil and gas that we own. I'm for coal, I'm for clean coal, I'm for natural gas but I would like a lower carbon economy over time. Clean up the air and create jobs in the process.
A: Don't think there's a snowball chance in hell that a Congress is going to approve this framework the way it's set up. The ayatollah saying he gets immediate sanction relief with no intrusive inspections.
Q: So what's your plan for a nuclear deal with Iran?
A: I will release today nine core principles of what I think a good deal will look like. Any time, anywhere inspections of military/nonmilitary facilities will be a bipartisan must. So, this idea that we can't go where we need to go is going to fail. The Chinese are talking about building five reactors for the Iranians. Any nuclear enrichment program must be limited to one reactor. At the end of the day, you can't lift sanctions until the behavior of Iran changes. They can longer be a state sponsor of terrorism before you lift sanctions down the road.
GRAHAM: I'm for Simpson-Bowles. It doesn't raise taxes, it closes loopholes and takes the money we would give to a few people and put it on the debt. We're $18 trillion in debt, 80 million baby boomers are going to retire in the next 20 to 30 years. We're going to wipe out Social Security and Medicare. We have to adjust the retirement age for younger people. People of my income level are going to have to have their benefits means-tested. Democrats are going to want a simpler tax code.
Q: What about that $18 trillion in debt?
GRAHAM: I'm for eliminating deductions and taking some of the money to buy down rates and put it on the debt. That's not raising taxes. That's solving a problem.
"I worried about this from day one. I'm sick to my stomach. And here is the first thing I would do if I were President of the United States: I wouldn't let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to. We're not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts. We're not leaving town until we restore the intel cuts. Killing terrorists is the only option other than capturing them, because they're not deterred by death."
The military line was "not to be taken literally," according to a Graham spokesman. But [many newspapers] covered the Graham joke as a serious proposal; [one wrote]: "If taken literally, Graham is basically announcing his plan to stage a coup."
Graham's answer: "I don't email. No, you can have every email I've ever sent. I've never sent one." He added: "I don't know what that makes me." The South Carolina senator said that the email issue raises important questions about Clinton's communications. "Did she communicate on behalf of The Clinton Foundation as Secretary of State?" he asked.
Fellow Republican Sen. John McCain made a similar statement about his email practices on MSNBC.
GRAHAM: Yeah, we should be doing more. But Boko Haram doesn't represent the threat to the homeland in my view that ISIL does and Al Nusra and other groups in Syria and Iraq. But this problem is spreading throughout the world. The next stage of the fight I think is Africa. But if we could show some resolve in Syria and Iraq and reset the table and go after these guys in Syria and Iraq with success, I think it would change the landscape throughout the world. Success anywhere breeds success everywhere. Failure in any one spot hurts you everywhere. But you're right, 2,000 people were killed in one weekend in Nigeria and the world basically ignored the story.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, once you liberate a country like Iraq, and you don't have a follow-up force, they fill in the gaps. Syria is a terror state. The civil war in Syria basically broke the country apart. And the only thing I can say is you have to deny the enemy safe haven. Returning from Iraq prematurely was a mistake. Not supporting the Free Syrian Army three or four years ago was a mistake. You've got to stay after these guys.
Q: What do you tell the country that's war-weary?
GRAHAM: You need to fight them over there or they're coming back here. It's better to partner than it is to go it alone. You've got to show the ability to stay with it. You try to get partners. The Free Syrian Army would be a good partner.
GRAHAM: The answer now is to deny ISIL the safe haven they enjoy in Syria and Iraq because it is a platform to strike the United States. There are more [more terror attacks like in] Paris coming until you disrupt this network. There are more terrorist organizations with more safe havens, with more capability to hit the homeland than before 9/11. The answer is to form a regional coalition, America has to be part of it, go in on the ground, and get these guys out of Syria. The current strategy is failing. Everybody has told us on this trip that if you don't have a no-fly zone, the people we're training, the Free Syrian Army that we're training is going to go back into Syria and get slaughtered by Assad. There's no way to be successful on the ground without neutralizing Assad's air advantage. And so we need a no-fly zone desperately.
GRAHAM: I think we're trying to tell the Iranians that we would like a political negotiation, a diplomatic solution, but please understand in Iran that the Congress is intent on re-apply sanctions, if you walk away from the negotiating table, and if you cheat, I don't think that's a disruptive message. All we're telling the Iranians, "If you walk away from these negotiations, sanctions will be reapplied. If you cheat, they will be reimposed." But let me just say this. I'm willing to forgo sanctions if the president will take any deal he negotiates and brings it to Congress for our approval.
GRAHAM: Well, North Korea would be great place to sell products. They don't have anything. When America engages a country, we do so with our moral voice, just not cigars & rum. So, for the last 50 years, Cuba's gone from being an interventionist communist power in Angola to Grenada, to a backwater, poor dictatorship. And without any reason, we have changed our policy. Look in your vault of CBS News stories in 2013 and 2014 and show me one where Cuba is becoming more democratic. The Congress is not going to reinforce this policy. There will be no confirmation of an ambassador to Cuba because the Castro brothers are terrible dictators who deserve no new engagement. They deserve to be condemned and isolated.
GRAHAM: When it comes to funding any proposed embassy in Cuba, I'm in charge of all foreign aid; will do everything I can to limit to size and scope of this embassy, because you are rewarding people who kidnap Americans and who really are still communists in every way.
Q: Do you think that Cuba at this point in time represents a security threat to America?
GRAHAM: Last year, the Cubans were shipping arms to North Korea in violation of the embargo. Yes. Cuba to me represents everything that threatens us. Are we safe when somebody right off our shores practices totalitarian communism in our backyard? They were actively trying to send weapons to North Korea a year ago. Should we be worried about North Korea? Yes. Should we be worried about Cuba? Yes. And Iran is watching. I can only imagine what the ayatollahs in Iran must be saying when our president reaches out to a communist dictatorship that has done nothing to change.
GRAHAM: Make it so hard on the North Koreans, they don't want to do this in the future. Reimpose sanctions lifted by President Bush. Put them back on the state sponsor of terrorism list. Put [them] on notice that it's just not a movie [referring to "The Interview", an anti-North Korea film]. It's our way of life. They attacked who we are. And when the president calls this [North Korean cyberattack on the movie's producer Sony] an act of vandalism , that just really bothers me greatly. It is an act of terrorism. And I hope he will respond forcefully.
Q: You're not talking about taking military action against North Korea, are you?
GRAHAM: I'm talking about putting them in a spot in the world where they are diminished beyond where they are today. I'm talking about consulting with China and holding them accountable. This is the first act of cyber-warfare that's really gotten a lot of attention. How the president handles this is very important.
GRAHAM: I didn't say impeachment. I said there would be a constitutional crisis. And it is coming. Senator Kelly Ayotte will introduce legislation in 2015 to put a moratorium on all releases from Guantanamo Bay because of a 30 percent recidivism rate. There are all kind of restrictions on transferring prisoners that the president is ignoring. Rather than closing Guantanamo Bay, he should be filling up the place because terrorism on the march. I, along with Senator McCain, want to outlaw water-boarding. But this president takes every terrorist, reads them the Miranda rights, gives them a lawyer, and holds them for a few days and puts them in a federal court. We can't gather intelligence. There will be one hell of a fight between the president and Republicans and Democrats in 2015 over Guantanamo Bay.
GRAHAM: In my view, Rep. Trey Gowdy and Rep. Elijah Cummings are doing a good job at looking at Benghazi as a whole, [alongside] DOD, the intel community, and the State Department...
Q: But yes or no?
GRAHAM: No. I think the report is full of crap, quite frankly.
GRAHAM: The question was not how you gathered intel. Who changed the talking points? It went through several changes. Who came out with the version most politically beneficial to the administration? The people who have been looking at Benghazi in a stovepipe fashion have not come up with a reasonable explanation for all the shenanigans and the lack of being prepared.
GRAHAM: Yes. It's one thing to say, as an executive agency, "I don't have the money to prosecute everybody or to deport everybody, so I'm going to rank them in order." It's another for the president of the United States to say, "not only will I decide not to prosecute a group of people, but I will affirmatively give you legal status." That is well beyond executive action.
Q: So what to do?
GRAHAM: Immigration has been dogging the country since 2006. I have a solution that I have been supporting that is comprehensive, that would allow legal status to the people in question. But you do it through a congressional action, where you get the entire system fixed. His action does not secure the border. It doesn't fix a broken legal immigration system. And it leaves millions of people left out in terms of the 11 million.
GRAHAM: Shame on us as Republicans for having a body that cannot generate a solution to an issue that it's national security, that's cultural and it's economic. The Senate has done this three times. I love my House colleagues, but if you want a piecemeal approach, do it. But doing nothing? I'm disappointed in my party. Are we still the party of self-deportation? Is it the position of the Republican Party that the 11 million must be driven out? I have never been in that camp as being practical. I am in the camp of securing our borders first, fixing a broken legal immigration, have an E-Verify program so you can't cheat.
Q: Isn't the president saying, "you have got to deal with the 11 million?"
GRAHAM: No, he decided not to delay prosecution, but affirmatively granted legal status to five million people.
But about the spread of Ebola throughout Africa: We're cutting the CDC's budget, the NIH budget. We're taking the military budget under sequestration cuts down to the smallest Army since 1940.
GRAHAM: There's been some. The idea of hitting them in Syria is long overdue. But this strategy of aerial bombardment is not going to work to destroy ISIL. We have a series of half- measures with ISIL that are going to draw this conflict out, and will not lead to the ISIL's destruction.
Q: That includes US ground troops?
GRAHAM: I think most Americans understand, if we don't destroy ISIL, if they survive our best shot, that we are all less safe. And you cannot destroy ISIL in Syria without a ground component. And what we're doing with the Free Syrian Army is militarily unsound. There is no way that I can see how we fix the problem in Iraq and Syria without American ground troops. So, Mr. President, level with the American people. You need boots on the ground. American soldiers need to go back to Syria and Iraq as part of a coalition. And we're going to need more than 4,000 to destroy ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
GRAHAM: We did.
Q: But if we did, then wasn't the president's decision OK? Why should we have stayed in Iraq?
GRAHAM: Every military commander said we needed between 10,000 & 20,000 troops. President Obama wanted zero. He said he promised to end the war. Well, what he did is, he lost the war, and this has come back to haunt us. I hope the next president will understand, listen to your commanders. And ISIL is a result of these mistakes.
GRAHAM: What we've learned from these changing times is that without American leadership the world disintegrates pretty rapidly. America is the glue that holds the free world together. When you see us missing or AWOL as President Obama's been, you see fracturing on multiple fronts. Russia is more aggressive, not less. The sanctions clearly are not working. Hamas is demanding open borders. Show me a statement by Hamas leadership that recognizes the right for Israel to resist, then I would consider that request. Passive responses to naked aggression all over the world is our foreign policy. Look what ISIS has been able to do in Syria and Iraq. Without American leadership, the world gets to be a very dangerous place and our allies, like Israel and Ukraine, suffer.
GRAHAM: Well, let's look at it this way. Russia has dismembered the Ukraine, a neighboring nation. It is intimidating its neighbors. Russia has seized territory from the Ukraine. Here's what I fear with this passive response, this lack of decisive action. The Ukraine has asked for weapons to defend itself for months and we're still thinking about it. The Europeans can't lead without America setting the standard. And without American leadership organizing Europe and the world you see people like Putin.
Q: What would you do?
GRAHAM: I would come to Congress and I'd ask for additional sanctions on the entire Russian economy, Putin included. I would come to Congress and ask for money to equip and train the Ukrainian military.
GRAHAM: There will be no money for supplemental [budget bills] without changes in the 2008 law. We have to streamline and quicken deportations. There'll be no immigration reform because of the crisis on the border. I blame Obama for this moment. But in 2015, if we start over, and the Republican Party doesn't get immigration reform right in 2015, our chances in 2016 of winning the White House are very low.
GRAHAM: I'm hearing there may be some Israelis casualties coming from the tunnels where they come out into Israel. But my view of the Israeli operation: Stay as long as you need to stay, go wherever you need to go, do deal with a viper's nest called Hamas. If I were Israel, I would stay in Gaza as long as I needed to, to stop the rockets for good.
Q: When you see a ground operation moving in this direction, resulting in heavier Israeli casualties, do you have any words of caution for Israel?
GRAHAM: My only words to the Israeli government and people is, "Clear it out. Close the tunnels. Shut down the rocket sites. Stay as long as you need to stay." Over 1,500 rockets have been fired. The only reason they have as few Israeli casualties is because of Iron Dome [missile defense]. If it's left up to Hamas, thousands of Israelis would be dead.
GRAHAM: [The administration] didn't call Putin the thug that he is. He didn't call for arming the Ukraine so they can defend themselves against rebel separatists supported by Russia. How about sanctions that would hit Putin as an individual? Their energy sector, their banking sector. The Europeans are never going to lead on this issue. It is indispensable that America lead.
Q: Obama would say that's a knee-jerk response to call for a more robust military reaction.
GRAHAM: Nothing knee-jerk is going on here. Indecision reigns. President Obama is trying to be deliberative. It comes off as indecisive. He's trying to be thoughtful. It comes off as weakness. I'm suggesting European, American-organized sanctions that go after Putin individually. I'm suggesting we put more NATO troops around Ukraine, that we rebuild the missile defense systems that Obama took down to let Putin know the path of least resistance is not to continue to dismember the Ukraine
GRAHAM: Economic instability that comes from a collapsed Iraq will affect gas prices and our economic recovery. But the main reason is, if ISIS is not dealt with, that's the staging area for a new attack on the United States. They have a lot of wealth. They will plan an attack against our country. And my biggest fear is that they're going to march toward Jordan. And I hope America understands that, if the king of Jordan goes, if he's the victim of these guys, then the whole Mideast is in turmoil.
Q: And you really thinks that's possible?
Q: What makes you think they have the organization to pull something like that off?
GRAHAM: What makes you think they don't? Look what's happened. They have basically occupied a portion of Syria. They're going into Baghdad. They will consolidate economic and military power. They will march towards Jordan and Lebanon. And they will use that space to attack us.
GRAHAM: We have common interests.
Q: Does that make you feel comfortable?
GRAHAM: No. Hell no, it doesn't. Why did we deal with Stalin? Because he was not as bad as Hitler. The Iranians can provide some assets to make sure Baghdad doesn't fall. We need to coordinate with the Iranians. And the Turks need to get in the game and get the Sunni Arabs back into the game, form a new government without Maliki. But I don't want Iran to dominate Iraq. And that's where they're headed. If the central government falls, the Iranians are going on the Shia area of Iraq, the south. Don't let the Iranians save Baghdad. Let us save Baghdad, so there will be a chance at a second government.
GRAHAM: Because Iraq and Syria combined are going to be the staging area for the next 9/11 if we don't do something about it. The people holding ground in Iraq also hold ground in Syria. [We must attack ISIS to] stop the march on Baghdad. Form a new government. Send Petraeus and Crocker over, somebody who knows [what to do].
In an effort to stop the gambling, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) are expected to introduce a bill this week to restore the former interpretation of the Wire Act. The introduction of their bills come after heavy lobbying from GOP mega-donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who opposes the legalization of online gambling.
In his letter, Perry--who received funding from Adelson during his 2007 campaign for governor--said restoring the former interpretation of the Wire Act and reinstating the federal ban on online gambling would bolster state rights.
GRAHAM: Putin very much cares about democracy on his borders. I would like to create a democratic noose around Putin's Russia. Let's accelerate Georgia's admission into NATO. Moldavia is under siege by Russia. Let's help Moldavia, Poland and the Czech Republic. We abandoned our missile defense agreements with them to protect Europe from a rogue missile attack coming out of the Mideast. Russia backed Obama down. If I were President Obama, I would reengage Poland and the Czech Republic regarding missile defense. I would admit Georgia to NATO. I would have a larger military presence in the Balkans to NATO members who are threatened by Russia. I would fly the NATO flag as strongly as I could around Putin. I would suspend his membership in the G-8, be the G-7. And every day he stays in the Ukraine, I would add to it.
GRAHAM: Well, my goal is to deter war. Read the report as to what's going on in North Korea. Do you think the person running North Korea is rational? It is a gulag. It is Nazi type tactics being practiced in 2014. What if the leader of North Korea woke up tomorrow and said it's time now to take the south. 440,000 members of the United States army is a gutted army. We do have a lot of technology available to our troops. Every soldier goes into battle with an array of technology and equipment not possessed in World War II. But you still need trigger pullers. So this budget by President Obama guts our defense. It is the smallest army since 1940. The smallest Navy since 1915 and the smallest air force in modern history. So if you're going to modernize your military for future conflicts, this budget will not allow you to do it.
The above quotations are from Sunday Political Talk Show interviews during 2013-2015, interviewing presidential hopefuls for 2016.
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