June 15th, 2014
11:02 AM ET
9 years 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.

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"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. swedepilot64

    Way to go Senator Graham. Spew (and review the tape and that's the only way to describe it) insults at the President of the United States. Hold your breath and wait for that invite to the White House on consultations. I am a military vet and lost friends over in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm with danR; this is not a game. And wasn't it only last week that hacks like Senator Graham were criticizing the President for "negotiating with terrorists" in the release of SGT Bergdahl. I think that we've declared Iran a "terrorist state". President al-Maliki didn't want to sign the crucial SoFA agreement, then became ruthless in his oppression and exclusion of the Sunnis. Let him reap what he sowed. I'll bet that SoFA looks pretty good NOW. This isn't a game.

    June 15, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Good/Bad

    Wait a second wouldn't it be more efficient to have the president call and initiate the airstrikes under the war powers act, which gives any president the ability initiate air strikes, and then notify congress of the initiation within 48hrs rather than go to congress first. He is speaking out both sides of his mouth, potus must act now but oh wait no delay and come to us first. Then if use of force is required longer than 60 days congress can step in and continue the authorization of the armed services for airstrikes, etc.

    Also wasn't it the GOP that went up in arms when lethal aid to syrian rebels was delayed at all. They had no concern at that time over what is now ISIS being part of those rebels while they chided potus for not sending the aid immediately due t concerns for al qaeda ties in the rebels. In the end its a damned if he does damned if he doesn't.

    He initiates air strikes immediately the GOP will probably start screaming dictator for not going to congress first even though he is authorized to initiate them and notify congress afterwards. If he goes to congress they will probably start screaming that he is not acting decisively and delaying when action is immediately needed.

    June 15, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  3. Alex

    "Deal with Syria" - he means fight against Assad? Now I am totally confused, I thought Assad is fighting against ISIS???

    June 15, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  4. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    Let's see now. Stubborn and delusional? If memory serves correctly there once was a person in the Oval Office, that insisted on a certain country having (Weapons Of Mass Destruction). This person was told repeatedly that said weapons did not exist, yet this stubborn person sent many people off to a war in order to uncover the (Weapons Of Mass Destruction). Then we were off to another country posing as liberators of the people. Both wars are there today, 10 years and running. And This Creep Wants To Discuss Stubborn? Give me a break.

    June 15, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Simplefaith

    Americans Lindsey Graham should be voted out of office as Cantor was. Since the Iraqi government did not want us there, we should stay out of it. Iraq has been at war for centuries. You cannot stick democracy in the throats of Iraqis if they do not want it. They are just using Americans for our wealth. They will squeeze our pockets and leave us flat. Then comeback to us when they have need for more assistance. My first son had is nearly blinded by his experience in Iraq. It is not worth it for others to get hurt. We are not appreciated in Iraq. Thank God, McCaine is not our President. We would be at war forever.

    June 15, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  6. Smitty

    Since Obumbles has been pres it has gotten worse every day. What an embarrassment. Would really like to see one day without the pres pants around his ankles. If Romney and Palin saw these disasters coming and the left states they are idiots, what does that make Obumbles ????

    June 15, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. Misa

    Aren't we already at war? Why would he need to go to congress to get permission to air strike? I'm honestly asking here. I'm confused.

    June 15, 2014 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  8. Whattha

    If he does, we can still save this," Graham told guest hosts Dana Bash and Gloria Borger. Wow, talk about delusional. Look this is tribal warfare plain an simple. You will never change the thinking over in the Middle East. It's been this way for hundreds of years and will remain so. To think these people even understand democracy is delusional.

    June 15, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  9. vikingwoman

    I recall the GOTP complaining loudly for a couple of years, that the president wasn't getting our troops out of Iraq/Afghanistan quickly enough! Now we should re-engage?! These people obviously don't remember what they say from 1 day to the next, except disagree w/Obama at all times! That makes their 'message' a jumbled mess, as the only platform is pan the president at all cost! And we're the ones paying! It could make for a great reality show though, juxtaposing what they said then vs. now! Call it Talkin Out The Side of Your Neck!!

    June 15, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  10. Marie MD

    Poor ms Lindsay, too hot for you in the kitchen sweetheart?
    The delusional one was your boy #43 who is a murdererer as far as I am concerned. He sent US troops to finish his daddy's war knowing full well there were no weapons of mass destruction. Hussein, as bad as he was, was a peace keeper for the area. Look at what a gigantic mess it is at present thanks to the village idiot from TX and that heartless, or should be, VP of his.

    June 15, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. Ice2424

    "The Obama administration had said any deal to keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the withdrawal deadline would require a guarantee of legal protection for American soldiers. But the Iraqis refused to agree to that, opening up the prospect of American troops being tried in Iraqi courts and subjected to Iraqi punishment."
    Well done Mr. President. If the slimy republicans won't look out for our troops, I'm proud that you did.

    June 15, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  12. fekt

    Mr Graham thinks Obama made a mistake? Wow, stop the presses. I wonder if it's because he's made so many himself he has perspective? Pshh, what am I saying, Graham has never made a mistake ever. Just ask him. He has soundbytes of his being on every side of every issue. I'm sure he'lll be able to find a quote of him somewhere saying something that makes sense. Just don't play the clip of him saying the exact opposite please.

    June 15, 2014 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  13. Mike the Veteran

    We have no business being in Iraq. Our military is exhausted and needs to recover. But Idiot Graham wants another fight in our hands. But let me guess, Graham will be the first to throw rocks at OB once we get involve.

    June 15, 2014 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  14. don in albuquerque

    Since your so embarrassed by this President maybe you should tell us how you wold handle some of these situations? No, not in your job grade. Just like the rest of the right, quick to criticize, quick to call names, but actual ability to govern? None.

    June 15, 2014 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  15. rs

    Its sad to say but this world still runs off oil and the world economy depends on it and so does a lot of politicians pocket books it would not surprise me if these more than multiple mid east debacles the dems have engaged in are just a sick way for them to get richer at our expense .
    Say, Chris, if oil is so very important, why in God's name did we allow the U.S. to become the biggest exporter of oil? Does that mean Chevron, the Kochs et al are operating against OUR best interests by selling OUR oil abroad?

    You need to think man.

    June 15, 2014 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  16. Marcus (from...?)


    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.

    Every time you put a few lines like those my belief that you are but a poser grows a mountain.
    A real vet would know a little thing like:
    Maliki didn't wanted US troops there, so he made sure to slam the door behind the last US soldier.
    Maliki (a shiite) then went after the Sunnis as if he was in a holly mission, forgetting that the sunnis have connections as well (and with a lot more countries) who were ready to give the radical sunnis all sort of support.
    Maliki didn't had an Army, but a bunch of bullies to back him up, and when they faced real treats they (as all bullies) ran for their lives (and their lives only).
    Maliki (and Teheran) now wants (needs) that US troops fight their war for them.

    June 15, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  17. James Chen

    The major U.S. foreign policy mistakes leading to the disaster:
    1. A wrong foreing policy based on a wrong principle, "To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect."
    2. Cairo Speech, a wrong speech at a wrong place and a wrong time, delivering a wrong message.
    3. A wrong concept trying to keep sectarian people together under an arbitrary country, violating the prinple of self-determination and democracy.
    4. A wrong idea to promote democracy in theocratic countries.
    5. Not able to identify the main enemy of U.S., but continueing to fight less serious enemies and befriend enemy's enemies.

    June 15, 2014 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  18. Matt

    This is why no residual force because 20, 50 thousand would not do it and we would have 160,000 in country. And it would be so easy to get drawn back it. It is mainly a political problem al-qaida will fade away as they did before and lose support of the tribes. The US want one guy, Iran another and al-Maliki was the compromise candidate. He said he would seek a third he is, he has caused the sectarian fault line. It is over forget about it. Let them sort it out themselves, if Iran want to send troops let them.

    June 15, 2014 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  19. S. B. Stein

    So what is Graham suggesting that Obama do? I didn't see any other suggestions there.

    June 15, 2014 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  20. rocky

    Lindsey Graham pompously talks out of both sides of his mouth. He's a hack running for reelection, so his comments demonstrate that. Ugh.

    June 15, 2014 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  21. rocky

    "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 is naive at best, and more to the point disingenuous here. Thinking we can just change the government of Iraq at will is absurd. It's way too late for the US to be thinking about insisting on a balanced government, which may be an impossibility anyway. Iran was going to gain influence no matter what once Saddam was taken out and the Iraqi army and Baath Party were disbanded by Kissinger's protege Jerry Bremer, a short-sighted incompetent. This has been a long time coming, since the Sykes-Picot Agreement and League of Nations mandates after WWI created artificial boundaries to satisfy colonial and imperial prerogatives, not the natural structure of the indigenous peoples. As Colin Powell aptly put it, "It's the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you bought it." The US broke it, for nefarious reasons, and we're going to be paying for it for a long time. The bill should go to Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Feith and all the rest of the PNAC/AIPAC fools.

    June 16, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  22. art

    where are the WMD,s?

    June 16, 2014 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  23. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Smitty says:
    June 15, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm
    Since Obumbles has been pres it has gotten worse every day. What an embarrassment. Would really like to see one day without the pres pants around his ankles. If Romney and Palin saw these disasters coming and the left states they are idiots, what does that make Obumbles ????

    The POTUS. Something Willard and definitely not Caribou Barbie, will ever be.

    June 16, 2014 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
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