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. Steven Daniel

    The only folks who fit the delusional scale is the likes of GW Bush, Lindsey & his like minded crew. The bad decision on Sadam's removal to a stupid, mindless war that gained us nothing but problems – including the incursion of Al Qaeda into Iraq. Al Qaeda was NEVER a problem in Iraq until our un-provoked invasion and now the Senator wants more resources dumped down this hole. Outrageous!!

    June 15, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. labman57

    The Iraqi government has been the functional equivalent of a spinning plate atop a broomstick. Unless someone was there 24/7 to keep it stable, its toppling was inevitable.

    The Bush/Cheney administration foolishly believed that the American public would favor an indefinite military presence by the U.S. to maintain the government's stability. Graham is demonstrating that those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.

    June 15, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. Steve

    Looks like Iraq is headed toward that 3 state solution VP Biden surmised about years ago. There doesn't seem to be an appetite for a unity government in this multi ethnic region.

    June 15, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. drake mallard

    Dick Cheney had a different view of invading Iraq in 1994, as evident in this discussion of the first Iraq war, a war where he was the Secretary
    of Defense.

    After you take down Saddam Hussain's government, he asks, "then what are you gonna put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government in Iraq, you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off... it's a quagmire ... if you try to take over Iraq... How many additional American causalities was Saddam worth? Our judgment was not very many, and I think we got it right."

    June 15, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    Not this time. iraq told us not to leave any troops in the country. We are right, to now, reject sending in any troops. Air support only, and even then, we are putting our guys in harm's way, for what?????

    Graham and McCain are totally war hawks, and all GOP supporters need to recognize they are the exception, and not the rule.

    June 15, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. danR

    "get into the game"

    Oh no. Oh please, General Graham, find another sport.

    June 15, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. Chris-E...al

    Korea was started by a dem ! And we are still there we have troops and hardware there spending trilions we lost 10000's of good me there ? But thats just fine as frog hair to a dem right . We should have stayd in iraq with a small force also .

    June 15, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. Mike

    I watched this interview of Republican Congressman Lindsay Graham on CNN. My God this man is totally unhinged. Graham said that US. Soldiers should still be dying in Iraq and that we now should go back into Iraq and waste even more billions of tax dollars and more American lives in this religious civil war hell hole. Will any Republican Congressmen or their families go die for religion and oil ? I think not. Graham says the wise and prudent Obama is "delusional" because he refuses to sacrifice more young Americans in a war that never should have been fought. Graham says America must save Iraqi's from the Sunni insurgents even though on the news videos the Sunni Iraqi citizens are welcoming them as liberators. Graham says we must remove Al Maliki even though we put him there and he was recently re elected in a democratic election. In the height of insanity Graham says that the Shiites in Iran should not go fight and die to help their Shiite friends in Iraq but that instead Christian Americans whom Iraq despises should go fight and die instead, Is Graham truly this crazy or this stupid ? Or is he under pressure from his Corporate billionaire supporters to protect their Iraq investments with American Soldiers blood.

    June 15, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  9. Stuffitu

    And our inept, incompetent, corrupt president is off again to another democrat liberal fundraiser and golf game at taxpayer expense in California while American lives are in danger and the world is in chaos and oil prices rise again. Thank you welfare frauds, dope smokers and corrupt unions for stealing the election for this Kenyan village idiot.

    June 15, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Are you going to go to Iraq and hold their hands and shoot the bad guys for them, Lindsey? I didn't think so.

    June 15, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. YoonYoungJo

    I agree with the GOP a little here. You are only as good as your council when you are a leader. This is why all sides need the opportunity to present their case. Otherwise you are not a wise leader. How can you know if a decision you make is the right one if you only listen to one side? Maybe going forward, from now on, all courts should only allow one side to speak. This way true justice will be done. Better yet let's only let people pure white ethnicity state their case. This way the wisest decisions will be made. I know its difficult to listen to many of the GOP because they have spent nearly all their energy just trying to block any of the Presidents policies and the easiest inclination is to just ignore them. But not listening to the other side of a story or proposal will always lead you astray. No matter how much you may disagree or not like what the other side has to say. If you do not listen to alternate view points you tend to develop tunnel vision.

    June 15, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Actually, some well place nukes would be more appropriate!!

    June 15, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    And the WMD are where? How about the "Pottery Barn" warning? I think we should send to politicians who voted to attack the wrong country over there in the first wave...

    June 15, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. drake mallard

    Why Are We Protecting the Borders of Other Countries When We Can’t Protect Our Own? or We can protect our borders, but the politicians or big business choose not to do so!

    The administration's harshest critics from across the aisle are being dishonest with the way the have been rewriting the history of the War in Iraq. Critics blame Pres. Obama for withdrawing forces from Iraq in 2011. What they are not telling you is that Pres. Obama was complying with the 2008 SOFA agreement signed by Pres. Bush, which was an agreement to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq by 2011.

    At the time of the withdrawal, critics howled that we should not be leaving. Unfortunately, the agreement that Bush had signed required us to do so, and the Iraqis were pretty resistant to extending our stay. Critics at the time said that the SOFA agreement didn't matter, and that we should stay anyway. These are the same critics who are rewriting history by blaming Pres. Obama for our withdrawal from Iraq, which I am glad we did. That religious civil war is not our fight.

    June 15, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. Chris-E...al

    Im not saying to send american troops or anything to iraq im just saying the 0bama administration did not negotiate reasonably nor wisely now we get high oil and lots more blood on the ground and possibly a weaker world economy if this conflict spirals out of control . But 0bama talks the climate change . Well you got it ?

    June 15, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. Mike


    Korea was started by a dem ! And we are still there we have troops and hardware there spending trilions we lost 10000's of good me there ? But thats just fine as frog hair to a dem right . We should have stayd in iraq with a small force also . ///

    Slight difference here. Korea asked us to day. Iraq demanded that we leave.

    June 15, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. Mike

    Graham is demanding that young American go fight and die to stop the Sunni Islamist Rebels. These are the same Rebels who are fighting the government in Syria. The same Rebels who Graham and McCain demanded that Obama arm and support. Right Wing lunacy , total madness.

    June 15, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. Lizzie

    rs, and democrats and liberals sat by and knew nothing.

    June 15, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. Thomas

    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.


    You sound just like Ahmed Chalab , it it you Ahmed ?

    June 15, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. Chris-E...al

    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 .

    June 15, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  21. don in albuquerque

    I wish just one of the Brainiacs posting here would list what exactly they think we accomplished in Iraq? Other then destroying a sovereign nation, setting up a kangaroo court for the only stabilizing factor in the middle east, and getting thousands upon thousands killed in the process. And now they want to go back.........to do what.

    June 15, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. Phyllis G Williams

    Those who find fault, should also state their wisdom concerning a situation.-exactly what is to be done .

    June 15, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. Phyllis G Williams

    Those who find fault, should also state their wisdom concerning a situation.-exactly what is to be done .

    A man told a preacher "I do not like your system of evangelization". He replied "I prefer mine to yours as you haven't got any
    system at all (smile)

    June 15, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    Everybody with half a brain, that would include MOST republicans , knows the GOP installed miliki IS 100% responsible . Obama withdrew troops because the Iraqi MORON miliki wouldn't agree to the status of forces agreement . That Iraqi IRANIAN STOOGE blew it!!!!!!!

    June 15, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  25. neastsider

    Graham and his bromancer bud, McCain, have been delusional for years, They have always wanted never ending wars at unlimited cost in people and money, who cares if it's being paid for or not, They want this country to police everywhere there's something happening, no difference if it's big or small. These buds just can't stop saying their delusional mantra of bomb-bomb-bomb everyone every where every time.

    June 15, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
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