August 1st, 2010
09:32 AM ET
13 years ago

Graham fears left, right in 'unholy alliance' on Afghanistan

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="About President Obama and Afghanistan, Sen. Graham told CNN, 'He's got a political problem. But we've got a national security problem.'"]
Washington (CNN) - A prominent Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee is praising President Barack Obama's approach to fighting terrorism in Pakistan.

However, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, is also worried that conservatives and liberals could join forces to undermine Obama's efforts in Afghanistan.

Obama has set July 2011 as the target date to begin to draw down the additional troops he's surged into Afghanistan. But, in an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Graham predicted that conditions may not allow the troops to begin to come home by that date.

"[G]enerally speaking, this time next summer, we're still going to be engaged in one hell of a fight," Graham said. "We're going to need every troop we have today, I think, still in Afghanistan next year."

According to Graham, it will be clear by the end of this year where things stand in Afghanistan.

"If, by December, we're not showing some progress, we're in trouble," he said. "And the question is: what is progress? Without some benchmarks and measurements, it's going to be hard to sell to the American people a continued involvement in Afghanistan."

Asked about the growing tide of sentiment against the Afghanistan war, particularly among Obama's base of supporters and some Democrats on Capitol Hill, Graham said he is worried about conservative and liberal forces joining together to frustrate Obama's efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.

"You know what I worry most about: an unholy alliance between the right and the left," Graham said. "That there are some Republicans who are not going to take a, you know, do-or-die attitude for Obama's war. There are some Republicans that want to make this Obama's war. . . There will be some Republicans saying you can't win because of the July 2011 withdrawal date, he's made it impossible for us to win, so why should we throw good money after bad?"

Graham added that liberals could also refuse to back the president's plans in Afghanistan.

"You've got people on the left who are mad with the president because he is doing exactly what [former President George W.] Bush did and we're in a war we can't win," Graham said, adding: "My concern is that, for different reasons, they join forces and we lose the ability to hold this thing together."

But, Graham said, he thinks the president understands the consequences of losing in Afghanistan.

"He's got a political problem. But we've got a national security problem," the Republican senator said.

Graham also said that the situations in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are linked when it comes to national security.

"How do you win in Pakistan if you lose in Afghanistan?" Graham said. "And I asked the president that. How can we be successful in Pakistan, protect that regime from extremists, if all goes to hell in Afghanistan?"

While Graham expressed concern about the short and long-term situations in Afghanistan, he offered praise for what Obama is doing across the border in Pakistan.

"Things generally are the best they've been with Pakistan in a long time," Graham said. "And this is one area where President Obama doesn't get enough credit. His team, in my view, have brought out the Pakistanis into the fight better than anybody in recent memory. They're cooperating with us more."

Graham added: "So I would say that the Obama administration has done a very good job at taking the fight to the enemy in Pakistan and trying to bolster the Pakistanis' capability to take the fight to the enemy."

In addition to sitting on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Graham is also a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Veterans Affairs Committee.

Graham has served active duty in the military as an Air Force lawyer and continues to serve in the Air Force Reserves. He holds the rank of colonel and is assigned as an instructor at the Air Force Judge Advocate General School. Graham said he will be going to Afghanistan to do his reserve duty during the upcoming Senate recess in August.

Filed under: Afghanistan • issues • Lindsey Graham • Pakistan • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. once upon a horse

    wow a GOPer actually SUPPORTING something the president has done? I bet Boss Limbaugh and Sarah don't like this AT ALL!

    August 1, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. socal frank

    Lindsay Graham is owned by the arms and munitions manufacturers. Somehow he has twisted the idea that ending the war is "unholy" and continuing it is, therefore, "holy." This is not a religious war – it is a scam to bleed the US treasury dry by spending 12 billion dollars a month to play Whack-A-Mole with the Taliban. The war was lost the day it was started. No aggressor in recorded history has successfully invaded Iraq or Afghanistan, and the US is no exception. We've been there for 9 years and the situation is worse now than it was 9 years ago. Bush allowed Osama Bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora so the war could go on forever. If Obama is not being manipulated by the war machine, he will, as Commander In Chief, end this miserable excuse for a war immediately and bring the troops home as quickly as possible.

    August 1, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. Chip H

    Ten-year $TRILLION dollar 'Contingency Actions for Daddy War Bucks™' has created a welfare tax dole dependent Mil.Gov Corporate-State, one which is the most profitable franchise in all of human history, employs 900,000 TS/SCI 'Above Top Secret' mercenary contracts who bleed our country of $225 BILLION a year in UNDISCLOSED and UNAUDITED activities we are not allowed to know (like domestic PSYOP on all of US), we are not allowed to question, and audits? Fahged abahd et!

    We have a run-away blowout $13 TRILLION unfunded Fed deficit as a result, and fully 46% of working Americans are in Mil.Gov, as employees or Mercenary contractors and Usurist loan sharks to. They are pulling down, by Congressional budget committee own estimates fully TWICE what private workers make, measured over a 20-year career to gain full pension and medical benefits for life, that we can only dream of.

    Lindsey Graham and State of South Carolina is an extraordinarily blessed beneficiary of the Daddy War Bucks™ welfare tax dole machine (Northrup Grumman):

    Dollar Amount of Defense Contracts Awarded to Contractors in South Carolina from 2000 to 2009 $17,458,055,391
    Number of Defense Contracts Awarded to Contractors in South Carolina from 2000 to 2009 32,704
    Number of Defense Contractors in South Carolina 2,945

    ...just as 'Fighting' (sic) Joe Lieberman and the State of Connecticut (General Dynamics):

    Dollar Amount of Defense Contracts Awarded to Contractors in Connecticut from 2000 to 2009 $83,388,046,030
    Number of Defense Contracts Awarded to Contractors in Connecticut from 2000 to 2009 62,036
    Number of Defense Contractors in Connecticut 2,602

    and of course, the Dodder Father, John McCain and State of Arizona (Raytheon):

    Dollar Amount of Defense Contracts Awarded to Contractors in Arizona from 2000 to 2009 $78,373,497,112
    Number of Defense Contracts Awarded to Contractors in Arizona from 2000 to 2009 48,125
    Number of Defense Contractors in Arizona 3,636

    Together these Three WarLords of the Apocalypse disappear nearly $180 BILLION a year of our precious last life savings, and we are supposed to believe a single word that spews from their lips?

    August 1, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. Tim

    There is no victory with either war we have going on now. Only more loss, more sorrow, more debt and with it, perpetual conflict. We all know who is responsible for these misadventures and the Senator is just another one of them, still trying to rationalize the neoconservatives misguided philosophy. I only hope that somehow, someway Americans can see the folly of our attempts at Imperialism and return to a more robust domestic agenda.

    August 1, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. johnrj08

    It bothers me when I hear terms like "unholy" coming out of a Senator's mouth when he's talking about the war in Afghanistan. We are not waging a "holy war". The United States doesn't do that. Or, at least we're not supposed to do that. Graham's use of that term is unfortunate. If Vice President Biden had used it, he would be getting pilloried on FOX News right now. As far as I'm concerned, anybody who thinks the war in Afghanistan is a waste of American blood and treasure is about as "holy" as anyone can get.

    August 1, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. Ethan

    For those of you that think US needs to protect Pakistan from falling into militants hands, don't know the history of Pakistan and don't know anything about the region. There is zero chance of Pakistan militants taking over. Everything they do is because of Pakistan allowing them and training them.

    In fact us being there helps the militants grow. Saying Pakistan will fall into militants hands, is like saying Sadam's Iraq was in danger of falling in militants hands. No one can argue now that Iraq was better controlled under Sadam then it is now.

    Graham is not looking for the interest of this country, but the interest of his party.

    August 1, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    If you let the military do the job, and stop meddling in their affairs, they might just meet that date.

    August 1, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. johnrj08

    We "defeated" the Taliban in 2002. They were blasted out of power, then disappeared. Then, after we got distracted in Iraq, they re-materialized stronger than ever and even increased their presence in Pakistan. The lesson to be learned here is that a war in Afghanistan could make Vietnam look like a Carnival Cruise. These people don't care about democracy, don't want democracy and don't like Americans. Many of them happen to prefer the Taliban over the ostentatiously corrupt government in Kabul. The idea of spilling one more drop of American blood in the Afghan sand or spending one more dollar to prop up Karzai makes me ill. Graham supports this war and any other war because he and his state are major beneficiaries of military spending. I support President Obama, but he has this one wrong. Get the hell out of Afghanistan. Insert an intelligence apparatus to keep an eye on Al Qaeda and address that surgically, just like we're doing so successfully in the northwest provinces of Pakistan.

    August 1, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. Rich man

    We need to get out of there immediately and bring our troops home. There's nothing to accomplish there. Do we really think we're going to win this war there? We didn't learn anything from Vietnam, again the politicians are making the rules of war instead of the generals. Besides the great point that jp made about us leaving them high and dry, this isn't a cohesive government but rather one of many uncivilized tribesmen who don't get along with one another. And yea I know what the argument is for leaving there, "if we leave, then the Taliban will return to power, al queda will once again start training to come after us over here'. Another scare tactic from the right! Let's say we did win this war, al queda would just go to some other country which there are many and train there, it makes no sense. I remember during Vietnam they said if we leave then all the countries in southeast asia will fall to communism, it didn't happen people. The sad part of it is the DOD and the military contractors have too much power in this country and are making too much money from these wars to quite. Instead we should be using this money at home where our economy could be growing and making jobs, not from military contractors but from the civilian industry.

    August 1, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. Layla

    There is nothing prominent about Lindsay Graham. He is a former trial lawyer (ambulance chaser) and will sellout to whomever gives him the best deal.

    Prominent....that's rich...

    August 1, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. JonDie

    Bush and Cheney dug us in depth and we will be lucky to get out of Afghanistan with our country intact, but we need to start NOW.

    August 1, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. Layla

    Why didn't you ask him about the war here at home? The one on the Arizona, Texas and California borders that we are losing?

    Why won't he enforse our current immigration laws?

    August 1, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  13. George

    How can anything like what is going on in Afghanistan and Iraq have a good ending? We leave and we declare the war on terror to be over, and see what happens. Personally, I think we have killed so many radicals, and innocents, over 9/11, that anyone would have to be insane to do something like that again. War over.

    August 1, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  14. Bill in Florida

    I know this sounds rather myopic and anachronistic, but I think we need to capture Osama bin Laden and his sidekick Ayman al-Zawahiri. Let us not forget Adam Gadahn. If we capture those three or kill them, we will have achieved our goal. We are not in Afghanistan to nation build. As I recall, we were there to decapitate Al Qaeda and put it out of business, realizing just the same that others would eventually rise up to fill the void. So, I think we ought to capture or kill these men, put Al Qaeda out of business to the greatest degree we can, get out of Afghanistan and push for far better diplomacy and humanitarian efforts in the future. Again, I know that my plan is limited, but I feel that it would be true to our original purpose and I support it 100%.

    August 1, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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