Graham: Mideast 'turning sour'
WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham's recent harsh criticism of President Obama over national security is a marked change from the South Carolina Republican's previous repeated praise of Obama's performance.
Graham denied on Friday that he's been inconsistent, and he said his new linkage of the Boston Marathon bombings with the Sept. 11, 2012, assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is not tied to his re-election bid next year, when he may face a formidable primary challenger in his hard-red state.
“It has nothing to do with my election,” Graham said. “I just see the whole Middle East going into turmoil. I don't need these countries to fall apart to get me re-elected. I want to see this part of the world move forward, not backward.”
The biggest threats to national security are Iran's pursuit of nuclear arms and the possible presence of chemical weapons in war-torn Syria, he said.
“Not leaving any troops behind in Iraq certainly sent the wrong message to Iran,” Graham said. “We see the deterioration in Iraq. The Afghan surge was necessary because we needed troops, but I'm very worried we will withdraw. The Libyan revolution was the first example of us leading from behind, and it's caught up to us. We had a very tepid response in Egypt. I just see the Middle East turning sour here.”
“He had a hard job,” Graham said of Obama. “I don't want to minimize how tough it is to deal with all these issues. It's fair to say that (former President George W.) Bush went in maybe too quick and didn't think things through, but I think we're being too timid now.”
Graham said he backs the movement within the Obama administration toward arming Syrian rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad.
“It's more of a problem today than six months ago, because there are about 6,000 radical jihadists fighting in Syria now, so providing the right weapons to the right people is more problematical, but I think it's the responsible course to take,” Graham said. “My main goal now is to get a commitment from the Syrian opposition to allow the international community to come in and secure the chemical weapons. If we don't bring this thing to an end, we're going to have chemical weapons falling into the wrong hands.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Nurse defies Maine quarantine in standoff over Ebola
- Terminally ill woman may delay planned Nov. 1 suicide
- Few knew of cyber attack on White House computer network
- Inmate freed in landmark case
- Ferguson grand jury cleared in leaks about police shooting of black teenager
- Museum saves part of bomber plant
- Botched probe of suspected arms dealer echoed Fast and Furious, watchdog finds
- Plane slams into pilot training center at Kansas airport, killing 4
- Hawaii’s National Guard sent to lava flow site
- Gray wolf sighting reported at Grand Canyon
- Wash. shooting survivor has jaw surgery