Today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is expected to launch his campaign for president. The longtime legislator is one of America’s most hawkish politicians, and will be running almost solely on a foreign policy platform. The tenor of his campaign will be grim: “I’m running because I think the world is falling apart,” he explained.
Indeed, Graham—who is a leader on the Senate Armed Services Committee—has a long record of sharing his views on national security matters and the use of military power, particularly when it applies to the Middle East. Here are a few of his greatest hits, which offer a preview of the foreign policy he will be promoting as a candidate.
- “Everything I learned about Iranians I learned working in the pool room…I met a lot of liars, and I know the Iranians are lying.” —May 22, 2015, speaking at a conference about his job in a pool hall as a young man
- “If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining Al Qaeda or ISIL, I’m not gonna call a judge. I’m gonna call a drone and we will kill you.” —May 16, 2015, speaking at Iowa’s Lincoln Dinner
- “Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula…Everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the Middle East is bad news” —May 3, 2015, while delivering the keynote speech at an American-Israel Public Affairs Coalition event
- “If we don’t help the King of Jordan, who is the last moderate voice in the Mideast, God help us all.” —June 2014, speaking with Greta van Susteren on Fox News
- “Putin basically came to the conclusion after Benghazi, Syria, Egypt—everything Obama has been engaged in—he’s a weak indecisive leader.” —March 2014 tweet
- “I believe that if we get Syria wrong, within six months—and you can quote me on this, there will be a war between Iran and Israel over their nuclear program. 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.” —September 5, 2013, at an event in South Carolina
- “The last place in the world you want nuclear weapons is the Mideast. Why? People over there are crazy.” —September 4, 2013, at an event in South Carolina
- “Chemical weapons in Syria today means nuclear weapons in the US tomorrow.” —September 3, 2013, at an event in South Carolina
- “Instead of a surgical strike on [Iran’s] nuclear infrastructure, I think we’re to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime’s ability to wage war against us and our allies…[We must] destroy the ability of the regime to strike back.” —November 10, 2010
Graham, who has said he has done “more right than wrong” on foreign policy, was a vocal cheerleader for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Iraq is a self-defense issue, and we need to aggressively engage Saddam Hussein,” he said in 2002. “We don’t need the blessings of the world to defend ourselves. A regime change is the only alternative in Iraq.”
A year later, Graham expressed doubt that US troops would remain in Iraq for longer than a year. “If we’re there through 2009, something went wrong,” he said. On that point, he certainly was correct.