On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to discuss President Obama’s foreign policy decisions when it comes to Russia, Israel and the Middle East. As one would expect from a warmongering neocon like Graham, the Senator was extremely critical of the President. The frequent Sunday show guest preened in front of the cameras once more as he slammed the President and stated that Obama has been “AWOL” when it comes to his leadership in the international community.
Host Candy Crowley began the interview by asking Graham about the changing dynamics of international relations in the 21st-century. She pointed out that things aren’t as simple as in the mid-to-late 20th century, when the bad guys were the Soviets and the Eastern bloc, and the good guys were America and its allies. She wanted Graham to discuss the “changing times” and perhaps explain how we need to change our perspectives. Of course, Graham just went back to his 20th-century mindset and simply said that America just need to be more assertive and aggressive with countries and organizations it deems as dangerous.
CROWLEY: With me now, Senator Lindsey Graham of the Armed Services Committee.
Senator, it is good to see you and thank you so much for…
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you.
CROWLEY: …coming on.
I want to talk to you first about this notion of leadership and the idea that the world really has changed. It’s not as simple as the bad guys are in the Soviet bloc and behind the iron curtain and the good guys are in the West. It is now a very complicated world which kind of defies a title of leader of the Western World. How much of this do you ascribe to changing times?
GRAHAM: You know, I think what we’ve learned from these changing times that without American leadership the world disintegrates pretty rapidly. I said last week, 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.
These are stark contrast and we’re not responding. 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.
Crowley pushed back a bit against Graham’s assertion that President Obama has not led within the international community. She pointed out that the White House has issued much tougher sanctions against Russia than European countries. Crowley also stated that Obama has called on European leaders to step up and confront Russia and President Vladimir Putin as this situation in Ukraine affects them far more than the United States. Of course, Graham dismissed Obama’s leadership when it comes to sanctioning Russia and holding it accountable for the situation in Ukraine. He instead decided to make a dumb analogy where he compared Putin to a cagey poker player.
CROWLEY: Well, you know, I think that the White House would argue, and has argued and said, you know, first of all, it now sounds as though they’ve finally gotten the European allies, including Germany, to agree to stiffen up their sanctions because, in the end, it’s more their problem in their backyard than in the U.S. backyard.
As far as Putin is concerned, he may be immune to sanctions, but that’s hardly the president’s fault. And has he not led in sanctions? The U.S. has upped them and upped them and upped them and Europe has failed to follow until apparently now.
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. With the Ukraine, if it could go back in time give up nuclear weapons. 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. They’re a dysfunctional political organization, Europe is. And without American leadership organizing Europe and the world you see people like Putin who has an economy the size of Italy. He’s playing a poker game with a pair of 2s, and winning. You see Iraq and Syria become safe havens for some of the most deadliest terrorists in the world who directly threaten our homeland. You see Israel under siege.
At this point, Crowley decided to confront Graham head on and ask him directly what he wants the President to do. She wanted to know if Graham wants Obama to take a more aggressive approach in his foreign policy, which would obviously mean at least the threat military action against several different countries and organizations.
CROWLEY: Senator, what would you have him do? He can’t (INAUDIBLE) — I mean, you want a more aggressive response. He’s been talking to…
CROWLEY: …the European allies. We don’t — no one here I think –
GRAHAM: Can I get a shot at what –
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.
I would when it came to Israel, condemn the U.N. human rights report that holds his role responsible for the activity here. The U.N. human’s right report is a joke. The U.N. has becoming more anti- Israeli, anti-Semitic. I would push back, Congress will do this, Schumer, Menendez and myself, we’re going to push back against this report. When it comes to Syria and Iraq, I would come up with a military game plan in coordination with the regional allies to stop ISIS from growing in strength. I would push political reconciliation in Baghdad but I’d come up with a military plan to stop these terrorist organizations from growing in strength before they hit our homeland.
In Graham’s mind, the United States needs to send high-grade military weaponry to Ukraine. It also needs to send over money and soldiers to ‘train’ the Ukraine military. Then, the US government needs to isolate itself within the global community by publicly criticizing dozens of countries by calling them anti-Semitic. He wants Congress to do this even though the United States already voted against the UN resolution he referred to. Finally, Graham insists that the United States needs to once again send over troops to fight in Iraq while at the same time engaging in a military conflict with Syria.
Graham’s plan would cost the country billions and billions of dollars as well as American lives. On top of that, anger towards the American government across the globe would skyrocket due to our involvement in these armed conflicts. We’d further damage our international reputation by needlessly admonishing other nations over their justified criticism of civilian deaths in Gaza. Thankfully, Graham is not the President of the United States and has absolutely no pull with the current resident of the White House.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).