President Barack Obama says he wants to end the 12-year-old war on terror. Not so fast, said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and Armed Services Committee member. Not only does Graham warn against declaring victory over al Qaeda, he wants more drones, more deployed missile defenses and more U.S. troops on the ground in the Middle East.
Speaking at his office in Columbia, S.C. on Wednesday, Graham shot back, saying the U.S. should ramp up its military efforts. “The war is not winding down, it is morphing,” he said. “If you don’t believe the enemy wants to hit us here at home you’re very naïve.”
Call it the war on terror 2.0, GOP style.
In a landmark speech on May 23, Obama said it was time to scale back the military and law-enforcement initiatives that have defined U.S. security policy since 9/11, including the use of armed drones.
Graham, an enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq war, previously has called for direct U.S. military aid to Syrian rebels and U.S. troops deployments to find and neutralize chemical weapons stocks in that civil war-torn country. “We should have Patriot missile batteries inside Syria protecting the rebels,” Graham added on Wednesday. “We should start bombing the [Syrian government’s] airfields using cruise missiles.”
Graham argued that if the U.S. does not intervene in Syria, the fighting would become a “contagion for the whole region” that could take down the Jordanian government, destabilize Turkey and “affect” Iraq, where sectarian violence continues to rage 18 months after the U.S. pull-out.
As for drones, the U.S. needs them “now more than ever,” Graham said. “I hope the president will not abandon this [drone] program. It is a military weapon; it is a tactical weapon that is needed in the war on terror.”
An expanded war on terror, if you buy Graham’s argument.
Corey Hutchins contributed mightily to this story. Teething pains with our new technology make it impossible to give him standard credit up top.