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Press Release - National Journal: "When it Comes to Foreign Policy Credentials, (Graham's) Got His Competitors Beat

July 09, 2015

Lindsey Graham on ISIS, Putin, and Being a 'Threat-Mongerer'

By Marina Koren

July 8, 2015


The South Carolina senator had been prompted by the moderator, CNN's Jake Tapper, to respond to a Foreign Policy story that billed Graham as one of Washington's "threat-mongers, fear-merchants, and hand-wringers."

"If you're too tired to defend this country, if you're too war-weary, don't vote for me," Graham said.

But when it comes to foreign policy credentials, he's got his competitors beat. Graham has long been a vocal advocate for a more robust defense program, and is one of the most respected foreign policy hawks in the Senate, where he's been since 2003, well before Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz arrived. His tenure there, plus his time on the Senate Armed Services committee, puts his national security chops well above those of his competitors in the Senate, and certainly above his competitors who are governors. He spent more than 30 years in the Air Force before retiring last month and has traveled the Middle East dozens of times.

"The world is in chaos," Graham said, echoing his announcement speech, and offered his "whatever it takes, as long as it takes" plan for stitching it back together.

Graham said that, if elected, he would deploy thousands of ground troops to Iraq to fight the terrorist group the Islamic State, and send special forces to "hunt the leadership of ISIS morning, noon and night."

"I don't know how to defend this country without some of us having to go over there and fight," he said.

Graham spoke extensively on what he called the threat of radical Islam—a term that President Obama has refused to use—and compared the Islamic State's mission to that of Nazi Germany. "They represent a religion that's every bit as dangerous as the Nazis were," he said.

Graham said he would build up the existing American presence in Afghanistan, saying that U.S. counterterrorism efforts there are crucial. "Not one soldier would come home until the conditions warrant," he said.

On Iran, Graham said he wants the U.S. to negotiate a "good deal" on the country's nuclear program. Should Tehran break a pact and produce nuclear weapons, the senator would respond with force. "I don't want a war but if that's what you want, you're gonna lose it," Graham said. "We're gonna sink your navy and we're gonna shot your air force down."

Graham also mentioned two other geopolitical foes. On China: "To our Chinese friends, if you want a good relationship, you can have it. If you want to cheat, hack into our systems, cyber attack this nation, steal property not yours—you're gonna have a contest."

And on Russian President Vladimir Putin: "If you think you're gonna muscle your way around Europe, forget it." Graham supports providing defensive weapons to Ukraine's military to fight pro-Russia separatists, and exporting natural gas, a resource Russia has pulled.


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Lindsey Graham, Press Release - National Journal: "When it Comes to Foreign Policy Credentials, (Graham's) Got His Competitors Beat Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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