June 15th, 2014
11:02 AM ET
5 months ago

Graham: Obama 'stubborn-headed,' 'delusional' on Iraq

(CNN) – An ardent critic of the Obama administration's foreign policy, Sen. Lindsey Graham labeled the President as "stubborn-headed,” “delusional" and "detached" over his decision on a U.S. reaction to the unfolding violence in Iraq.

The South Carolina Republican argued Sunday on CNN’s "State of the Union" for more intervention in the country, as Sunni militant fighters ramp up attacks in the region.

"The stubborn-headed president we have, who thinks he knows better than everybody else, who withdrew troops and exposed this country to the inevitable, needs to change his policies quickly. If he does, we can still save this," Graham told guest hosts Dana Bash and Gloria Borger.

“Stubborn-headed, delusional, detached president,” he said.

“Get into the game, Mr. President. You can - leaders are judged not by the fact that they never make a mistake, but how they adjust to their mistakes. Bush made plenty of mistakes. I have made plenty of mistakes. Obama has made plenty of mistakes. But we have an opportunity - and time is running out - to turn this around. Get involved with airpower. Stop the march toward Baghdad. Deal with Syria. But get a new government in place as quickly as you can that will bring the Iraqis back together for a counteroffensive.”

Obama said Friday that he "will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq," but that he would be reviewing a range of other options in coming days.

Graham's comments come a day after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush into the Persian Gulf.

The Pentagon said the move will give Obama "additional flexibility" in efforts against the militants - the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an al Qaeda splinter group known as ISIS, that has seized a large swath of land in the north of the country and threatens to advance on the capital.

Graham predicted that the White House would ultimately use airstrikes in the conflict and said he's shocked that fellow lawmakers are not calling on the President to get congressional approval first.

"It's stunning to me that nobody in Congress is saying, you have got to come to us first. Everybody in Congress is scared to death of what's going to happen in Iraq. They won't come out and admit it. But nobody is saying, Mr. President, don't use airpower,"

Graham added that the United States should keep its eye on Iran as the crisis unfolds in the region. The Republican senator argued that the rapid advance of ISIS in Iraq would lead to an even more destabilized region, and leave space for neighboring powers to move in.

"We should have discussion with Iran to make sure they don’t use this as an opportunity to seize control of parts of Iraq," he said. "If Baghdad falls and the central government collapses in Iraq, the Iranians are the biggest winner, we're the biggest loser."

Graham also called for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, to resign.

"He's incapable of bringing the Sunnis back into the fold."

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Iraq • Lindsey Graham • President Obama • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. GonzoinHouston

    Does he want to send in troops or something? No thank you Senator; we've played that game once. All he says is we need to "have a discussion" with Iran, but if we do then Obama's either "rewarding our old enemies", "dealing with terrorists", or "naive to think he can accomplish anything by talking to Iran".

    June 15, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. g

    how much does this guy get payed by Saudi-arbia –its a tribal war not Americas problem

    June 15, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. Thomas

    After all, this is the same Lindsey Graham who called Ahmed Chalabi a "patriot,".

    June 15, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  4. don in albuquerque

    Not one more drop of American blood shed in the middle east Lindsey, honey. Not one. And I don't care if it bankrupts your portfolio. That is all this is about anyway, portfolios. That is all it was ever about.

    June 15, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  5. Anthony

    If his buddy McCain were president, we would have stayed (and been stuck) in Iraq. We would have been in Iran and Syria too.

    June 15, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. sjs

    Lying to cover his behind as he voted for this war that was a lie to the American people and to the solders. Just like Vietnam the government lied to the people and solders. Muslims have been killing each other for 3,000 years and we as a new country think we have a right to change there ways to Democracy not going to happen and when are we going to learn. We have starving kids and kids killing kids and instead we are helping Muslims that don't want our help period. If we stay out of there country I bet they stay out of ours. All Muslims should all be forced to stay in the middle east to live in the world they like killing each other.

    June 15, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Vence

    This guy hates obama so much that blames Obama for every new day! Jeez! Obama won get over!!

    June 15, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. John

    Let's get this straight.......we go in, overthrow a Sunni government which is anti Iran and install an Iran clone........you later call Iran a huge threat to the US and Obama isn't taking them seriously, and now you want us to go back in and throw our support behind Iran again.....Can you please clarify, or do you just like to complain about Obama?

    June 15, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. N86RM

    This is ALL Obama's fault. It was Obama that set up the "status of forces" that REQUIRED that the Iraq LEGISLATURE pass it instead of by executive order.

    Obama set this up as designed to fail so he could withdraw from Iraq.

    2010 was a fairly safe and secure Iraq.

    This is OBAMA's disaster and NOBODY else.

    June 15, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  10. Amazing

    The delusional one was Bush who started this debacle. Graham is another war hawk who is clueless. He and his ilk will blame Obama for clouds in the sky.

    June 15, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  11. king

    these repubs are destroying our american power in the world just because they hate this president. they railed, cried and shout about obama not going into the lybia to get khadafi, when he did they turned around and wanted to impeach him. they railed cried and stump about obama not helping syria, on the eve of him attacking Seria they voted against any intervention in congress. they shout scream and holler that obama not doing any thing with the Russians take over of Ukraine, when he gathered his allies and crippled the Russian economy, they cried that he was weak and feckless. the people of the world know that this is not a country runs by a dictator, and when they see 1/2 of our government power is not supporting anything this president does. they know that this country is divided and that is the only way they can do what they do. because they know that the repubs and their tea party minions will never agree with nothing this president say nor do so they are taking full advantage of the situation.

    June 15, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. MaryM

    Now, Now Ms Lindsey, you know McCain is watching, so behave!!

    June 15, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  13. ja

    America was delusional to invade, period

    June 15, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  14. Chris-E...al

    For all the good our service men woman did in baiting and killing the worse of the worse terrorist and extremist in Iraq and around the world 0bama and democrats have just lost the game in the fourth quarter and gave up our lead by using to many time outs and just bad judgement and immature complacent deadly calls . And there will be a bigger price now as usual thats how dems roll wake up .

    June 15, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  15. marc

    Did someone just add a mess of Haliburton stock to his portfolio?

    June 15, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. Mojo09

    President thinks he knows everything. Excuse me Senator Graham I believe you are the one who thinks he knows everything and by the way were are those famous WMDs your president had in Iraq. You let him and his VP get off with lying to the American people and getting a lot of people killed in war we should not have been in. You are the traitor for not hold Bush accountable along with his staff of lying to the people.

    June 15, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    Sen Graham should have used those descriptive words for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Powell since they started the Iraq War based on non-existent WMDs.

    June 15, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. bluebird

    Is Iraq our problem? No! We are not world police, and we are not a world peace keeper. Money spend oversea under the "national security" doesn't help our financial situation. Military power is no longer the solution. Rest of the world is going crush us with economic power.

    Any country try to invade us with military power, we can crush them. But, how do we fight when other country invade us by taking our economic power away?

    Iraq war dragged us down. Go back to fix it by borrowing more money?

    June 15, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. drake mallard

    Rich old men will always send poor young men to fight their wars while protecting their sons

    Let the rich kids get drafted and the rest voluntarily enlist...that would ensure WAR is a last resort!

    But certainly big business gets in there because wars are very profitable to
    certain big businesses.

    How come politicians never join the military when they are sending other people children to war? To the politicians War is good for business invest your self and own your own children,wife husband!

    June 15, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. Mojo09

    People 3,000 years did you really think we could change the Middle East. I support the solders but the Middle East has a history and no one has ever changed them ask Russia, England the world changes daily but the Middle East stays the same. I don't understand why people think we can change there view.

    June 15, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. rs

    You know Mr. Graham, you might be right to some extent that the U.S. is responsible for dealing with the current problems in Iraq, after all under your leadership (and Mr. McCain's, and Mr. Bush's, Mr. Cheney's and other luminaries on the Right), for no good reason, the U.S. attacked, and bombed Iraq- destroying virtually all of it's energy infrastructure. We destroyed their army, their police, their political structure. We started a civil war. We killed 125,000 civilians and made 2 million more Iraqis refugees all across the Middle East.

    And who did that, sir? It wasn't President Obama- it was you and your crazy war-mongering party.

    That Iraq is broken ought not be a surprise to anyone, especially the GOP-YOU DID IT!

    June 15, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. barrinc_2000@yahoo.com

    Why don't Graham, McCain have young relatives go fight these wars. ENOUGH American lives, blood and money has already been spent. By the way, how many oil contracts did we get in Iraq?, and how much of the war cost did they pay back?

    June 15, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. vic , nashville ,tn

    Don’t remove dictators in Middle- East, dictatorial rule fit in that region
    GOP have stop the “bomb bomb” slogan

    June 15, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Peace

    Lindsey Graham, you like to live very much and in a very luxurious way, so do the young ones. Why do you want to cut short their lives by sending them to war? Yourself and McCain have lived longer. Both of you can volunteer and go and fight in Iraq.

    June 15, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  25. rs

    So, let's see if we have this right.
    First, Reagan negotiates with Iran to release Americans held in Iran, and sells weapons to Suddam Hussein.
    Second, Reagan sells weapons to Iran, out of stock we sold to Israel (to support the Contras), but we support Iraq in the war against Iran.
    Third, under Bush the first, we go to was with Iraq.
    Fourth, Under Bush the Second, we go to war with Iraq, and call Iran part of the empire of evil.
    Fifth, every nut job Republican sets their hair on fire about Iran's atomic energy program, then does so again when Obama negotiates a treaty to ensure no nuclear weapons are in the offing.
    NOW- the GOP wants us to work WITH Iran in support of the Iraqis?

    The GOP has lost whats left of it's freakin' mind.

    June 15, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
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