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Lindsey Graham on War & Peace

Republican Sr Senator; previously Representative (SC-3)

  
 



Lindsey Graham on GWOT

Destroy radical Islam like Reagan destroyed the Evil Empire

I'm the only candidate tonight who served in the military while Ronald Reagan was our president and our commander in chief. It was one of the highlights of my life. I'm running for president to destroy radical Islam, to win the war on terror, to protect you and your family. And in that quest, I have an uncompromising determination to win this war, just like President Reagan had an uncompromising determination to destroy the evil empire, and win the Cold War.
Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary undercard debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

Israel: stay as long as needed in Gaza to deal with Hamas

Q: There are reports this morning of a serious escalation in the war in Gaza. What are you hearing?

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.

Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 20, 2014

Slow Afghan withdrawal, with 15,000 US troops left behind

Q: The latest assessment is that only one of 23 Afghan brigades in the army can actually operate without US support.

GRAHAM: Right.

Q: What speed should the US withdraw the 66,000 remaining troops in Afghanistan?

GRAHAM: I think it should be done based on the best military advice our commanders can give.

Q: Apparently Gen. Allen wants them to stay until the end of next year.

GRAHAM: I think that's a good decision. I want to withdraw our forces in a reasoned way. I would love to be able to support Obama's winding down Afghanistan. I would love to be able to say you've done a good job here. Don't withdraw too quick. Leave them through next fall and withdraw in an organized manner, but announce soon, Mr. President, that we're not leaving Afghanistan. we're going to have a robust military force left behind, as an insurance policy against the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Q: Give me a number.

GRAHAM: I think somewhere in the 15,000 to 20,000 range, depending on what the military commanders say

Source: CNN SOTU 2013 interview on 2014 South Carolina Senate race , Jan 6, 2013


Lindsey Graham on Iran

Ok to hold off Iranian sanctions but only while negotiating

Q: On Iran, Pres. Obama said, "My main message to Congress at this point is, just hold your fire. Nobody around the world, least of all the Iranians, doubt my ability to get some additional sanctions pass should these negotiations fail." Why not wait?

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.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 18, 2015

Support the Syrian rebels against Assad & Iran

Senator Graham is a vocal advocate for the rebels in Syria and wants the US to support the rebel forces to remove Syrian dictator Assad from power. "We need to be backing that Syrian that could replace Assad and live at peace with us." Graham insists. The Senator believes the US has little choice but to take action against Assad following the President's "red line" remark. Failing to do so will inevitably "diminish us."

When asked about the al Qaeda operatives disguised within the opposition, Graham stated, "The Syrian people started this revolution through peaceful demonstrations. These radical Islamists are hijacking this revolution." Senator Graham recognizes the danger posed by the extremists. In fact, this acknowledgment drives his contention that the US must involve itself in the Syrian civil war. "The Iranians are backing Assad for a reason." He says, "We need to be backing people who would replace Assad who are not radical Islamists and that's most Syrians"

Source: Edgefield Advertiser on 2014 South Carolina Senate race , Oct 22, 2013

Getting Syria wrong leads to Iranian nukes & war with Israel

Graham wound up his case on Syria intervention by raising the stakes considerably. He painted a frightening picture of cascading world events that would reverberate far beyond the borders of a civil war in one Middle Eastern country. If the US doesn't deal with Syria, Graham promised Iran would acquire a nuclear weapon by 2014, the King of Jordan would be deposed and Israel would start preparing to protect itself. "I believe that if we get Syria wrong, within six months--and you can quote me on this," Graham said, pausing for dramatic effect. "There will be a war between Iran and Israel over their nuclear program." But it wouldn't even end there, Graham surmised. Undoubtedly, he said ominously, the Iranians would share its nuclear technology with US enemies. "My fear is that it won't come to America on top of a missile, it'll come in the belly of a ship in the Charleston or New York harbor," he said.
Source: US News & World Report on 2014 South Carolina Senate race , Sep 5, 2013

Get involved in Syria to protect against al Qaeda and Iran

Q: Are you satisfied with the approach the administration is taking about chemical weapons in Syria?

GRAHAM: No, I haven't been satisfied for a long time. Four things are going to happen if we don't change course in Syria

  1. It's going to become a failed state by the end of the year. It's going to be an al Qaeda safe haven.
  2. The chemical weapons are going to be compromised and fall into the wrong hands.
  3. I worry about the king of Jordan. He's had 500,000 refugees flood his country from Syria. His kingdom could fall.
  4. If we keep this hands-off approach to Syria, we're going to have a war with Iran because Iran's going to take our inaction in Syria as meaning we're not serious about their nuclear weapons program. We need to get involved.
Q: A no-fly zone could be pretty dangerous for the US....

GRAHAM: There's nothing you can do in Syria without risk, but the greatest risk is a failed state with chemical weapons falling in the hands of radical Islamists.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2013 on 2014 South Carolina Senate race , Apr 28, 2013


Lindsey Graham on Iraq

10,000 US troops in Iraq; 10,000 in Syria; plus 90,000 Arabs

Q: I just want to remind our viewers, you want 10,000 U.S. ground troops in Iraq, and 10,000 in Syria?

GRAHAM: Yeah. I just don't make this up; I talk to people who are combat trained who have won in Iraq who I trust. Here's what I want to tell the Arab world and Turkey. We're not going to send 100,000 troops. You're going to do the fighting this time and we're gonna help you. We paid for the last two wars, you're gonna pay for this one. They get it because ISIL wants to cut their heads off, too. [The Turks and Arabs] have modern armies: 90% them, 10% us, and we go in and destroy the caliphate. The point I'm trying to make is, there needs to be a ground component. We need to be smart, and we need to fight the war over there. And to the people in my party who believe you can withdraw from the battlefield like Senator Cruz and Paul and we be safe, you really don't understand this war.

Source: 2015 CNN/Salem Republican second-tier debate , Dec 15, 2015

Winning in Iraq is more important than safety

I just returned from Iraq. It was my 36th trip to Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade. Toward the end, I met a very impressive Special Forces sergeant. As I departed, I told this young man, "Stay safe." He replied, "Sir, I will do my best to stay safe, but I came here to win." As commander-in-chief, I will do everything in my power to make sure that he can win. As president, we will win.
Source: 2015 CNN/Salem Republican second-tier debate , Dec 15, 2015

Returning from Iraq prematurely was a mistake

Q: Over the last 14 years, U.S. policy going after terrorist groups has been to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy. It's George W. Bush's policy; it's been President Obama's. Fourteen years, we've killed a lot of people, but we've not defeated this enemy. Why?

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.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 18, 2015

U.S. ground troops to fight ISIL in Syria and Iraq

Q: Has there been any success in at least containing ISIS in Iraq?

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.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Oct 5, 2014

We should have left 10,000 US troops in Iraq

Q: If we couldn't train Iraqi troops to be up to snuff...

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.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Oct 5, 2014

More intervention in Iraq avoids an American city in flames

Graham said this week that if America didn't step up its military intervention in Iraq--a nation that U.S. troops occupied for eight years beginning in 2003--he envisioned "an American city in flames." This isn't the first time Graham has made such statements. Last year, he demanded an invasion of Syria--claiming that Iran would nuke the Port of Charleston if American troops didn't intervene.

[His opponent Thomas] Ravenel says, "Stop fearmongering using other people's sound bites--and other people's blood and treasure--and give us some hard numbers," Ravenel said. "Tell us exactly how much is it going to cost to mold Iraq into the country you want it to be? Trillions of dollars and thousands of lives have already been lost there in the name of 'nation-building'--yet the situation is worse than it's ever been."

President Barack Obama launched so-called "humanitarian" airstrikes in northern Iraq last week.

Source: FITS News on 2014 South Carolina Senate race , Aug 11, 2014

OK for Iran to help in Iraq, but not to dominate

Q: People might not realize this, that Iran, who is generally no friend of the U.S., is now potentially going to work with the U.S. on Iraq.

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.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 15, 2014

We need more troops for long haul, Iraq is like WWII

The administration has been stubborn about troops. We do not need to paint a rosy scenario for the American people. We need to let the American people know this is just like World War II; we’re in it for the duration.
Source: Josh White, Washington Post , Sep 20, 2004


Lindsey Graham on ISIL

Form army--90% them, 10% us--to destroy Caliphate

Q: How would you fight ISIL?

GRAHAM: I would get the Arabs who are threatened by ISIL just as much as we are, along with Turkey. We would use their armies. They have modern armies. 90% them--but some of us have to go, folks. You're not going to keep the war from here if some of us don't go over there. 90% them, 10% us, and we go in and destroy the caliphate. There must be American boots on the ground in Syria to win. If you don't understand that, you're not ready to be Commander in Chief.

Q: You called for U.S. ground troops in both Iraq and Syria...

GRAHAM: Two years ago. If we had 10,000 troops left in Iraq, there would be no ISIL and I hate what Obama did. He gave away everything we fought for.

Source: 2015 CNN/Salem Republican second-tier debate , Dec 15, 2015

To destroy ISIL in Libya, take the Caliphate's headquarters

Q: Are you ready to commit U.S. ground troops to Libya?

GRAHAM: I want to talk to General Keane first. I want to find out, what do we need militarily to keep them contained and eventually destroy them in Libya? They're in nine countries. You want to deal with Libya, go to Iraq and Syria. You want to prevent another 9/11, take the caliphate headquarters away from ISIL. There is no other way to do it without a ground force going into Syria.

Source: 2015 CNN/Salem Republican second-tier debate , Dec 15, 2015

Declaring war on Islam only helps ISIL

Sen. Rick SANTORUM [to Graham]: This is an important time in our country's history. We have entered World War III. World War III has begun and we have a leader who refuses to identify it and be truthful to the American people to the stakes that are involved, in part, because his policies have led us here. His policies in the Middle East with Iraq create ISIS.

GRAHAM: This is a religious war between radical Islam and the rest of the world. And there's only one way you're going to win. Help people in Islam who reject radical Islam to fight over there and destroy this ideology. Donald Trump has done the one single thing you cannot do. Declare war on Islam itself. ISIL would be dancing in the streets. Declaring war on the religion only helps ISIL.

Source: 2015 CNN/Salem Republican second-tier debate , Dec 15, 2015

We are at war and it's a religious war

We're at war. There's four things to understand about this war, it's a religious war, them against the world, if you don't fight them over there, they're coming here. If you don't hit them first, they're going to hit us. If you're not determined to fight it as a war, you're going to lose. So if you're worried about somebody having your phone, don't be. The only thing you need to worry about is if you're talking to terrorist and a judge gives an order to listen to what you're saying.
Source: 2015 CNN/Salem Republican second-tier debate , Dec 15, 2015

American troops should partner with regional army

Q: What is your strategy to deal with ISIS and Assad?

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.˙

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 15, 2015

If France invokes Article V, NATO should declare war on ISIS

Q: Do you believe if France requests that NATO invoke Article V (an attack on one is an attack on all), that NATO and the United States should formally declare war on ISIS?˙

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.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 15, 2015

Need substantial boots on the ground against ISIL

Q: You have been saying for months that we need troops there on the ground to battle ISIS. What do you think of the president sending in these 50 Special Forces operators?

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.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 Coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 1, 2015

If we don't destroy ISIL soon, they're coming here

Q: You are calling for an additional 20,000 U.S. ground forces to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria and you have said that anyone who's not willing to do that should not be commander in chief.

GRAHAM: Right.

Q: No one on this stage has gone that far. So are you saying that they are not fit for the Oval Office?

GRAHAM: If they don't understand that Barack Obama's policies are not working, that we're not going to destroy ISIL in Iraq and Syria from the air, they are not ready. If we don't destroy ISIL soon, they are coming here. We're going to need a regional army, the Turks, the Jordanians, the Saudis, the Egyptians get their armies up together and 90% of it will be them. They're going to pay for this war because we paid for the last two. But 10 percent at least will have to be us and we're going in on the ground and we're going to pull the caliphate up by its roots and we're going to kill every one of these bastards we can find because, if we don't, they are coming here.

Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary undercard debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

I have a plan to fight ISIL: ground forces in Syria & Iraq

All of us are going to say we want to destroy ISIL. I have a plan to do it. If I'm president, we're going to send more ground forces into Iraq. President Obama made a mistake by leaving too soon against military advice. To every candidate, would you go from 3,500 to 10,000 American boots on the ground in Iraq? Because if you don't, we're going to lose. Are you willing to send American combat forces into Syria as part of a regional army, because if you don't, we'll never destroy ISIL in Syria.
Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary undercard debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

Whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat ISIL

Q: You called for 20,000 American troops in Syria and Iraq. Why should the American people after two wars in Iraq sacrifice yet again on a third war?

GRAHAM: If we don't stop them over there, they are coming here just as sure as I stand here in front of you. One thing I want to be clear about tonight. If you're running for president of the United States & you don't understand that we need more American ground forces in Iraq and that America has to be part of a regional ground force that will go into Syria and destroy ISIL in Syria, then you're not ready to be commander in chief. And you're not serious about destroying ISIL. According to the generals that I know and trust, this air campaign will not destroy ISIL. We need a ground force in Iraq and Syria, and America has to be part of that ground force. Syria's becoming a perfect platform to strike our nation. I've got a very simple strategy as your president against ISIL. Whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat them.

Source: Fox News/Facebook Second Tier debate transcript , Aug 6, 2015

ISIS plans to take Jordan; that throws Mideast into turmoil

Q: You think US airstrikes are the only answer in Iraq?

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?

GRAHAM: Yes.

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.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 15, 2014

ISIS makes Iraq & Syria the staging area for the next 9/11

Q: On the issue of Iraq, the toll so far: 4,424 deaths, 32,239 wounded, and then the cost of money, $770 billion. Why spend one more dollar or risk one more life?

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].

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 15, 2014


Lindsey Graham on Russia

Russia will back down if US provokes it in deposing Assad

Q: Aren't you concerned that if we rally this coalition to take out not only ISIS but Assad, that that is going to be a war with Russia? Russia is now in Syria, doing everything it can politically, militarily, economically, to prop up Assad.˙

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.˙ 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.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 15, 2015

Arm Ukraine; sanction Russia; more NATO troops to region

Q: What has Obama done wrong on Russia?

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

Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 20, 2014

Obama "screams loudly & carries no stick," in Russia & Syria

Graham and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) co-authored an op-ed on CNN saying Obama's "scream loudly and carry no stick" foreign policy had failed to deter Russia: "It's no wonder Putin has concluded that he's unlikely to face serious consequences for his imperial adventure. The U.S. did nothing when he invaded Georgia in 2008. More recently, we did nothing after the Syrian regime violated the 'red line' Obama had established regarding the use of chemical weapons there," they wrote.

Graham also released a new ad earlier this week touting his opposition to Obama on foreign policy: "He stands up for America and our troops, challenging the president, asking the tough questions on Iran, Benghazi and radical Islam," the ad's narrator says. "In a dangerous world where the only guarantee of peace is strength, Lindsey Graham stands strong."

Source: The Hill AdWatch on 2014 South Carolina Senate race , Mar 23, 2014


Lindsey Graham on Syria

If Syrian war goes on another year, Jordan's king might fall

Q [to Carson]: You recently visited a Syrian refugee camp. Do you think these camps are a long-term solution?

Dr. Ben CARSON: I asked the Syrians themselves: What do you want? Their supreme desire was to be settled back in their own country. I said, "What can America do?" They said, "Support the efforts of those who are trying to provide safety for us, including the Jordanians." They had a brand new hospital, for instance, that was unstaffed because there wasn't enough money to do it. But if you go into Hasakah province, that's an area that's as big as Lebanon. It's controlled by the Kurds, the Christians and the moderate Sunnis. You could settle a lot of people there.

GRAHAM: I've been to the refugee camps in Turkey, and Jordan. We've got to stop this war. Do you realize that there are more Syrian refugees in Lebanon going to school than Lebanese children? Do you realize if this war goes for another year the King of Jordan could fall? Let's have a no-fly zone.

Source: 2015 CNN/Salem Republican debate on Syrian Refugees , Dec 15, 2015

There's nobody left in Syria to train; bring in other Arabs

Sen. Rick SANTORUM: ISIS is a caliphate. Under Islamic law, good Muslims who see them as a legitimate caliphate are required to follow them. How do we defeat their caliphate? Well, it's very clear in Islamic law how you do so. You take their land--in the Islamic world that delegitimizes the caliphate. We need to use Sunni, not Shiite Iraqis, but Sunni Muslims in Iraq and the Kurds, the Peshmerga, and take back Iraqi land.

GRAHAM: You're not going to win that way, Rick. There's nobody left in Syria to train. Between the Russians and Assad, they have killed all the people we trained. I would get the Arabs who are threatened by ISIL just as much as we are, along with Turkey. We would use their armies. They have modern armies. 90% them, 10% us, and we go in and destroy the caliphate.

Source: 2015 CNN/Salem Republican second-tier debate , Dec 15, 2015

Don't collaborate with Russia & Iran to keep Assad in power

GRAHAM [to Cruz]: I would partner with the Arabs and Turkey [to fight ISIS in Syria]. But, the reason they don't partner with Obama is they just don't trust him. To my good friend Ted Cruz, please ask him the following question, you say you would keep Assad in power, I will tell you that is the worst possible thing that could come out of an American leaders mouth. It would be disastrous. Ted, getting in bed with Iran & Russia to save Assad is inconceivable.

Sen. CRUZ: We need to learn from history. Obama, Clinton, and far too many Republicans--want to topple Assad. Assad is a bad man. But if we topple Assad, the result will be that ISIS will take over Syria. And I'll tell you whose view on Assad is the same as mine. It's Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Netanyahu doesn't want to see Syria governed by ISIS. And we need to focus on American interests, not on global aspirations...

Source: 2015 CNN/Salem Republican second-tier debate , Dec 15, 2015

Military commitment of regional troops in Syria is necessary

Q: Do you think the American people are ready for a military commitment in Syria to take out ISIS and Assad?

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.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2015 coverage:2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 29, 2015

Regional, not US, army would keep stability in Syria

Q: The President says, because there is no ground force, military advisers tell him that it would require an occupational U.S. force. And that is a recipe for lots forces for a long period of time. What is your response to that?

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.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2015 coverage:2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 29, 2015

Help the Free Syrian Army; but Obama said no

Q: Your response when it comes to Syrian refugees?

GRAHAM: Number one, how does President Obama sleep at night? Look what you let happen on your watch. Your commanders told you, "don't withdraw from Iraq because we'll lose our gains." Three years ago your entire national security team, Senator McCain and I begged you to do a no-fly zone and help the Free Syrian Army while it would matter. But you said no. I'm blaming Barack Obama for this mess.

Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary undercard debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

There's nobody left in Syria to train; need regional army

If I'm president of the United States, I've told you what I'm going to do. There's nobody left in Syria to train. We're going to get a regional army who doesn't like ISIL, who won't accept Assad, because he's a puppet of Iran. We're going in [with troops on] the ground, and we're going to destroy the caliphate, pull it up by roots, and we're going to hold the territory.
Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary undercard debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

Form regional coalition to enforce no-fly zone in Syria

Q: You said, "Not supporting the Free Syrian Army three or four years ago was a mistake." Are you advocating more troops in Syria now?

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.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 18, 2015

2012: Arm the Syrian rebels & fight Assad's air force

We had a chance in 2012 to train the Free Syrian Army. They were about to beat Assad. Hezbollah came in with Iranian help to turn the tide of battle. The Russians doubled down, and we abandoned the Free Syrian Army. But this strategy we have regarding the Free Syrian Army is going to get all of these kids slaughtered if you don't deal with Assad's air force. We can win in Syria. It's going to take commitment. It's going to take effort. And God help us all if we don't win.
Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Oct 5, 2014

Intervention in Syria to degrade Assad's chemical weapons

[In response to Graham's support of intervention in Syria, his opponent] Nancy Mace has said intervention in Syria would just bolster the opposition that's dominated by al-Qaida. State Sen. Lee Bright said, "Lindsey Graham seem willing to go to the ends of the earth to help the Muslim Brotherhood."

Graham never engaged his foes directly, but his comments encapsulated the arduous sell to the public. "I don't want another Iraq or Afghanistan war because that's just not what we need to do," he said, before outlining his support for a contained military strike designed to degrade Syria's ability to deliver chemical weapons in the future and assist those who want to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

Facing that strain of skepticism, Graham wound up his case on Syria intervention by raising the stakes considerably. He painted a frightening picture of cascading world events that would reverberate far beyond the borders of a civil war in one Middle Eastern country.

Source: US News & World Report on 2014 South Carolina Senate race , Sep 5, 2013

Syria: Assad must go, and small arms won't do it

Q: What is the goal in Syria?

GRAHAM: I really don't know [Obama's goal]. But the goal should be to basically make sure Assad leaves. Last year, Assad was isolated; he was hanging by a thread. This year, he's entrenched with Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia. I think our goal should be in the short term is to balance the military power and providing small arms won't do it. So we need to create a no-fly zone to neutralize the Assad's air power.

Q: So you're saying [about Obama's plan] this is too late, this is too little?

GRAHAM: Right. What does it mean if they lose? Syria becomes a powder keg for the region. There's 60,000 Syrian children in Jordan. The kingdom is under siege in terms of refugees. Hezbollah is all over Syria, so Lebanon's even more unstable. Our policies are not working. And AK-47s will not neutralize the advantage that Assad has over the rebels. We need to do more.

Q: So only by taking out Assad can we have peace in this civil war?

GRAHAM: Assad must go.

Source: Meet the Press 2013 on 2014 South Carolina Senate race , Jun 16, 2013

Voted NO on redeploying non-essential US troops out of Iraq in 9 months.

Vote to transition the missions of US Forces in Iraq to a more limited set of missions as specified by the President on September 13, 2007: S.AMDT.3875 amends S.AMDT.3874 and underlying bill H.R.2764:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LEVIN: "The amendment requires redeployment be completed within 9 months. At that point, funding for the war would be ended, with four narrow exceptions:"

  1. Security for US Government personnel and infrastructure
  2. Training Iraqi security forces
  3. Equipment to US service men and women to ensure their safety
Targeted operations against members of al-Qaida.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. McCAIN: "This year, after nearly 4 years of mismanaged war, our military has made significant gains under the so-called surge. Overall violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since [2003]. Improvised explosive device blasts now occur at a rate lower than at any point since September 2004.

"Al-Qaida's leadership knows which side is winning in Iraq. It may not be known in some parts of America and in this body, but al-Qaida knows. We are succeeding under the new strategy.

"Given these realities, some proponents of precipitous withdrawal from Iraq have shifted their focus. While conceding, finally, that there have been dramatic security gains, they have begun seizing on the lackluster performance of the Iraqi Government to insist that we should abandon the successful strategy and withdraw U.S. forces. This would be a terrible mistake."

Reference: Safe Redeployment Of US Troops From Iraq Amendment; Bill S.AMDT.3875 to H.R.2764 ; vote number 2007-437 on Dec 18, 2007

Voted YES on designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists.

Vote on a "Sense of the Senate" amendment, S.Amdt. 3017, to H.R. 1585 (National Defense Authorization Act), that finds:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LIEBERMAN: Some of our colleagues thought the Sense of the Senate may have opened the door to some kind of military action against Iran [so we removed some text]. That is not our intention. In fact, our intention is to increase the economic pressure on Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps so that we will never have to consider the use of the military to stop them from what they are doing to kill our soldiers.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. BIDEN. I will oppose the Kyl-Lieberman amendment for one simple reason: this administration cannot be trusted. I am very concerned about the evidence that suggests that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities inside Iraq. Arguably, if we had a different President who abided by the meaning and intent of laws we pass, I might support this amendment. I fear, however, that this President might use the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity as a pretext to use force against Iran as he sees fit. [The same was done with the Senate resolution on Iraq in 2002]. Given this President's actions and misuse of authority, I cannot support the amendment.

Reference: Sense of the Senate on Iran; Bill S.Amdt. 3017 to H.R. 1585 ; vote number 2007-349 on Sep 26, 2007

Voted NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq by March 2008.

Begins the phased redeployment of US forces from Iraq within 120 days of enactment of this joint resolution with the goal of redeploying by March 31, 2008, all US combat forces from Iraq, except for a limited number essential for protecting US and coalition personnel and infrastructure, training and equipping Iraqi forces, and conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations. Such redeployment shall be implemented as part of a diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community in order to bring stability to Iraq.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Our troops are caught in the midst of a civil war. The administration has begun to escalate this war with 21,000 more troops. This idea is not a new one. During this war, four previous surges have all failed. It is time for a different direction. It is time for a drawdown of our troops.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

This resolution calls for imposing an artificial timeline to withdraw our troops from Iraq, regardless of the conditions on the ground or the consequences of defeat; a defeat that will surely be added to what is unfortunately a growing list of American humiliations. This legislation would hobble American commanders in the field and substantially endanger America's strategic objective of a unified federal democratic Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself and be an ally in the war against Islamic fascism. The unintended consequence of this resolution is to bring to reality Osama bin Laden's vision for Iraq; that after 4 years of fighting in Iraq the US Congress loses its will to fight. If we leave Iraq before the job is done, as surely as night follows day, the terrorists will follow us home. Osama bin Laden has openly said: America does not have the stomach to stay in the fight. He is a fanatic. He is an Islamic fascist. He is determined to destroy us and our way of life.

Reference: US Policy in Iraq Resolution; Bill S.J.Res.9 ; vote number 2007-075 on Mar 15, 2007

Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007.

Voting YEA on this amendment would establish a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Voting NAY would keep the current situation without a timetable. The amendment states:
  1. The President shall redeploy, commencing in 2006, US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007, leaving only the minimal number of forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces and conducting specialized counterterrorism operations.
  2. The President should maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence to prosecute the war on terror and protect regional security interests.
  3. Within 30 days, the administration shall submit to Congress a report that sets forth the strategy for the redeployment of US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007.
Reference: Kerry Amendment to National Defense Authorization Act; Bill S.Amdt. 4442 to S. 2766 ; vote number 2006-181 on Jun 22, 2006

Voted NO on investigating contract awards in Iraq & Afghanistan.

To establish a special committee of the Senate to investigate the awarding and carrying out of contracts to conduct activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and to fight the war on terrorism. Voting YES would: create Senate special committee to investigate war contracts, taking into consideration: bidding, methods of contracting, subcontracting, oversight procedures, allegations of wasteful practices, accountability and lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Reference: Committee to Investigate War Contracts; Bill S Amdt 2476 to S 1042 ; vote number 2005-316 on Nov 10, 2005

Voted NO on requiring on-budget funding for Iraq, not emergency funding.

Amendment to express the sense of the Senate on future requests for funding for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. A YES vote would:
Reference: Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act; Bill S.AMDT.464 to H.R.1268 ; vote number 2005-96 on Apr 20, 2005

Voted YES on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Vote to pass a bill that would appropriate $86.5 billion in supplemental spending for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Fiscal 2004. The bill would provide $10.3 billion as a grant to rebuild Iraq. This includes:
Reference: FY04 Emergency Supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan; Bill S1689 ; vote number 2003-400 on Oct 17, 2003

Voted YES on authorizing military force in Iraq.

Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq: Passage of the joint resolution that would authorize President Bush to use the US military as he deems necessary and appropriate to defend U.S. national security against Iraq and enforce UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq. It would be required that the president report to Congress, no later than 48 hours after using force, his determination that diplomatic options or other peaceful means would not guarantee US national security against Iraq or allow enforcement of UN resolutions and that using force is consistent with anti-terrorism efforts. The resolution would also give specific statutory authorization under the War Powers Resolution. Every 60 days the president would also be required to report to Congress on actions related to the resolution.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hastert,R-IL; Bill HJRes114 ; vote number 2002-455 on Oct 10, 2002

Voted YES on disallowing the invasion of Kosovo.

Vote on an amendment to the "Kosovo and Southwest Asia Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act" which would prohibit the use of funds for any invasion of Yugoslavia with U.S. ground forces except in time of war.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Istook, R-OK; Bill HR 1664 ; vote number 1999-119 on May 6, 1999

Sponsored prevention, not containment, for Iranian nukes.

Graham sponsored Resolution on Iran's nuclear program

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, that Congress--
  1. Reaffirms that the US Government has a vital interest in working together to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
  2. warns that time is limited to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
  3. urges continued and increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran until a full and sustained suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities;
  4. expresses that the window for diplomacy is closing;
  5. expresses support for the universal rights and democratic aspirations of the people of Iran;
  6. strongly supports US policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
  7. rejects any US policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.
Source: HRes568/SR41 12-SJR41 on May 24, 2012

Support the completion of the US mission in Iraq.

Graham co-sponsored supporting the completion of the US mission in Iraq

A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the Commander of Multinational Forces-Iraq and all United States personnel under his command should receive from Congress the full support necessary to carry out the United States mission in Iraq. Expresses the sense of the Senate that:

  1. Congress should ensure that General David Petraeus have the necessary resources to carry out their mission in Iraq; and
  2. the government of Iraq must make visible progress toward meeting the political, economic, and military benchmarks enumerated in this Resolution.
Source: S.RES.70 & H.RES.150 2007-SR70 on Feb 5, 2007

Sanctions on Iran to end nuclear program.

Graham signed Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act

    Expresses the sense of Congress that:
  1. diplomatic efforts to address Iran's illicit nuclear efforts, unconventional and ballistic missile development programs, and support for international terrorism are more likely to be effective if the President is empowered with explicit authority to impose additional sanctions on the government of Iran;
  2. US concerns regarding Iran are strictly the result of that government's actions; and
  3. the people of the United States have feelings of friendship for the people of Iran and regret that developments in recent decades have created impediments to that friendship.
    States that it should be US policy to:
  1. support international diplomatic efforts to end Iran's uranium enrichment program and its nuclear weapons program;
  2. encourage foreign governments to direct state-owned and private entities to cease all investment in, and support of, Iran's energy sector and all exports of refined petroleum products to Iran;
  3. impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran and any other Iranian financial institution engaged in proliferation activities or support of terrorist groups; and
  4. work with allies to protect the international financial system from deceptive and illicit practices by Iranian financial institutions involved in proliferation activities or support of terrorist groups.
Source: S.908&HR.2194 2009-S908 on Apr 30, 2009

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