June 21st, 2009
11:03 AM ET
13 years ago

Senators call for regime change in Iran, but differ on how

WASHINGTON (CNN) - They agreed on wanting regime change in Iran, but leading Republican and Democratic senators disagreed Sunday on what role the United States should play in tying to make that happen.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week" program, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut both said they'd like to see the current Iranian government fall.

"Absolutely," Graham said, while Dodd said he would "love to see a different regime in Iran."

"Who wouldn't?" Dodd continued. "My lord, what's going on there for the last 30 years has been a disaster for the people in Iran."

However, Graham criticized President Barack Obama for failing to take a stronger public stance in favor of demonstrators protesting the announced result of the June 12 election that authorities said re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"The president of the United States is supposed to lead the free world, not follow it," Graham said.

He called Obama's statement Saturday for Iran to halt its violent crackdown on protesters the right step, but complained that the president has been "timid and passive more than I would like."

Dodd responded that Obama was taking the correct tone.

"The worst thing we could do at this moment for … these protesters, these courageous people in Tehran, is allow the government there to claim that this is a U.S.-led opposition, a U.S.-led demonstration," he said.

Graham said the United States had an obligation to support freedom movements everywhere.

"They've killed Americans in Iraq, innocent Iraqi people; now they're killing their own people," he said of Iran. "Stand up with the protesters. That's not meddling. That's doing the right thing."

Dodd endorsed a collective international response to Iran that would support both the aims of the demonstrators and the U.S. goal of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

"I think doing it alone … may not achieve the desired results," he said, adding that support from the international community was needed "if your true goal is to stop the Iranians from developing the nuclear weapons."

Graham, however, said a failure to properly support the demonstrators could "lose this moment in history." He called regime change, at this moment, "more important than negotiating about nuclear weapons."

Filed under: Chris Dodd • Iran • Lindsey Graham
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Dawn in Pa

    I feel that Iran is heading for a Revolution and maybe for the best, but we actually should stay out for our own safety...

    June 21, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    maybe if we go to war with Iran

    this is something the republicans would want us to do

    a good idea is have Dick Cheney Rush , Bill Bennett
    the three musketires. war mongaring idiots
    let them go over and start it and when the loose
    we can stand behind the people of Iran and support freedom
    the President is doing the right thing by staying out of the problem
    but showing concern for freedom and civil rights .. but the people of Iran have to show their government not the United States

    June 21, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. lescroc

    Lugar, your an idiot!

    June 21, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. Leah

    America has absolutely no right to interfer and bring about regieme change in any country. The Iranains remember the CIA backed coup that replaced their democratically elected gov't with the Shah and their supplying of weapons to Saddham Hussien in the Iran/Iraq war which led to the deaths of tens of thousands of their countrymen.

    Where is Lindsay Graham's about the thousands of innocent deaths of Iraqi people due to the inept invasion of Iraq. Hoiw is Graham going to instigate this regieme change? And when it doesn't work out his way, like the elections in the West Bank, will he start the process all over again?? This man and his Republican ilk are dangerous to the security of America.

    Why isn't CNN publishing the comments of actual experts on Iran who have unanimously supported the President's stance and comments.

    June 21, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. suzi

    Graham needs to update himself. The Iranian protester are asking that Obama not take any stronger stand in support of their cause than he already has. It will only hurt them . These repugs really ought to check out the facts before the open their pieholes.

    June 21, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Mike O'Brien

    There they go again.., a Republican puts his foot into his mouth. I actually feel sorry for the Republican Party. It seems everyday, they are digging a bigger hole for themselves. Mike in Montana

    June 21, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Kate in SW Fla

    How happy am I that McLame lost the election? OMG. He would have us at war by now, with Lieberman as his Sec of State, they'd be over there in Israel, planning the bomb, bomb, bombing of Iran. I absolutely shudder to think of the Republicans in the White House again. We are in 2 wars, plus we have MAJOR issues with North Korea, and these loudmount, blowhart Republicans are all up on their high horse. They are the reason we have 2 wars, and why North Korea is exploding. Axis of Evil? What, exactly, did that nonsense accomplish?

    June 21, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. http://www.popduds.com

    Obama's stance is the correct approach. Study a little game theory and you'll understand why. If the US takes a hard line and butts into the scene, it only plays into the hands of those suppressing the people of Iran (and threatening our own national security). They want to make it Iran vs. USA, but if we hold our tongue, we can make it The Regime vs. The People, which has the potential to be much more powerful and lasting. Let the people of Iran control their future!

    June 21, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. lulu

    "The president of the United States is supposed to lead the free world, not follow it," Graham said.

    Wasn't that Hitler's philosophy for Germany?

    Sure wish you fokes would lern to spel bettur.

    June 21, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. Sick of republican hypocrisy

    After berating Obama for months for supporting talking to Iran, for giving his first interview to Al Jezeera and the Islamic people of the world, for giving speeches of respect and gentle encouragement, NOW they say he ISN'T doing enough to communicate to the people?? God what idiots. No, what hypocrits. It's the party of "let's just say the opposite" "let's repeat all our old mistakes" "Let's be the biggest bull in the china shop". DIsgusting.

    June 21, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Joyce Becker

    Of course we would like regime change in Iran, no matter how tough we talk they will do just what they want and if the people resist more, they will use more repressive means against them, which will result in an all out revolution. President Obama's words are the correct ones and he will tone them up when necessary and the free world will back him up, but they will not do the fighting, that can only be done by the Iran people who want a more democratic Iran, we can only give them moral support.

    June 21, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. New Day

    I agree with Graham. Someone strap a gun on him and ship him to Iran. Best of luck, Senator!!!!

    June 21, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. whaley41

    Hey liberals, you are in charge now. The repubs are out. Don't blame them for anything now. It's your ballgame.

    June 21, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  14. Janice

    Well the rethugincans want another US led coup de'etat to install another brutal Shah. President Obama should go to the Democrats in Congress and order a bill wrote up to make any mention of a coup by anyone in public office an offense.

    June 21, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. AJP

    Graham is your typical Republican. He would critize Jesus Christ if he came back to redem is soul.

    June 21, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  16. Economist

    The president's actions have been praised by essentially every expert on Iran both domestically and internationally. The results of his administration's policy are obvious. The republicans, meanwhile, would prefer to use a sledgehammer where a flyswatter is appropriate. They confuse bravado with strength.

    June 21, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. Buddy Gilmour

    The GOP seems determined to screw up in Iran the same way that they screwed up in Iraq. Here is a situation where it appears the Iranian people are ready to rise up for freedom. We need to be very cautious about what we say and what we do, because the US is still generally hated and our actions are more likely to empower their conservatives and produce the opposite result from what we hope for. Let me simplify this for the party of stupid: The GOP needs to STFU.

    June 21, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  18. Concerned Southerner

    Graham are you saying we should invade and begin black ops in Iran. We cannot afford 3 wars hero. You give Southerners a bad name we dont all want 3 wars.

    June 21, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. B.H.

    These senators like Graham are total idiots shooting off about regime change! That is just going to put us in the front line for the next WAR!
    Why can’t these people just start trying to take care of our- important business -here for Americans. This country is about in the tank with people hurting!

    Arrogant Americans again.... We are BROKE and running around telling everyone else in the world how to live.

    June 21, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. The Party of NO is only “pro-life” to save a zygote now, so it can then kill the “babies” 18 years later as soldiers in an elective religious war.

    "timid and passive more than I would like."

    Spoken like a true neo-con, start a third war so big business can make billions of the American taxpayer.

    Oh yeah, and give the rich a tax cut and decree that "deficit spending is not as important at this time".

    That Graham Cracker, is why you are in the minority and your party is out of power!

    June 21, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. Susan

    I believe Obama is doing the absolute right thing at this time. The whole world, and most importantly, the middle east countries are watching what is happening in Iran. Ahmadenijad is already trying to make it look that the protesters are acting out because the US is being an agitator and spurring them on. The LAST thing we need to do is prove him right. There is already mistrust and propaganda spread by Iran to the other middle eastern countries saying that we control them. If we step in more forcefully, it will turn into the US vs Ahmedenijad/Islam/Middle East Sovereignty/you name it. Have some of these politicians not learned a single thing from history?

    June 21, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  22. Longhorn#1

    Always in you CNN columns you list The Republicans first. Why is that???

    June 21, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. mk

    If America takes anything Lindsey Graham says as credible, we have a major intelligence crisis in this country. Weak, weak self-serving non-leader.

    June 21, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. Michael

    So is Lindsey ready to sign up his kids to go fight in the Middle East.?

    He is one of the biggest losers in a party of losers.

    June 21, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. adama

    i strongly dissagree with those who are saying that president Obama must say something about Iran's current sitaution and they want a regime change in Iran. Iran is a sovereign country, its president must be choosen by its people. we must speak out about Iran nuclear weapon, we must care about our security and the security of the world. let not interfer in Iran's afair,

    June 21, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
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