Graham: U.S. must address Syria crisis now
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham did not mince words when he spoke of the current crisis in Syria.
“Chemical weapons in Syria today means nuclear weapons in the U.S. tomorrow,” Graham said while addressing the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce Small Business Luncheon on Sept. 3.
South Carolina's senior senator said allowing weapons of mass destruction to develop in the Middle East is a dangerous move.
“The reason terrorists killed three thousand Americans during 9/11 is because they haven't yet come up with a weapon capable of killing three million of us,” he said.
Graham is convinced the Syria crisis is just the tip of the iceberg when discussing the volatile state of the Middle East. “I'm tired of war as much as anybody,” he said. “If I thought we could ignore Syria, I would, but ignoring Syria is not an option.”
Graham said if the situation in Syria is not resolved quickly, it could escalate into what he calls an open-ended military campaign with the U.S. as the ultimate target.
“I'm convinced Iran is marching toward nuclear weapons,” he said. “The Iranians believe if they develop nuclear weapons technology we will leave them alone like North Korea. They may be crazy but they aren't stupid.”
Graham and fellow U.S. Senator John McCain met with President Obama on Labor Day to discuss the president's plan of a military retaliation against Syria for its use of chemical weapons to kill 1,400 rebels in its ongoing civil war, with many of those killed being children.
“There is no voice like the President of the United States,” Graham said. “He has to weigh in here. This has to be more than just 1,400 people, most of them children, being killed. This war is a cancer.”
Graham said up until the Sept. 2 meeting he did not know of the president's plans, if any.
“Our President has to make a case to the U.S. people,” he said. “We need to employ a strategy above and beyond a few missile strikes in Syria in order for this to work.”
The senator said he would support any plan with some reasonable chance for success, but if the U.S. is going to act it must do so quickly.
“Until yesterday I did not see a plan,” Graham said. “The cost of doing nothing is catastrophic, but the cost of doing too little is just as bad.”
With 9/11 and the ensuing war in Iraq still fresh in his mind, Graham said he is convinced Syria employed chemical weapons.
“The evidence is overwhelming,” he said. “I've seen it. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure it out.
“If you talk about Syria and don't mention Iran you are disconnected from the times in which you live. If Iran believes we don't care what (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) does with chemical weapons they will become emboldened and press forward with nuclear weapons.
“Syria is the last chance to reset the Middle East,” Graham said. “The President says it will be our policy to prevent Iran from getting their hands on a nuclear weapon. When you're dealing with someone who doesn't mind dying and taking you with them you have to think differently. Prevention is the key to success in the Middle East.”
The bulk of Graham's address to Berkeley County small business leaders revolved around the current crisis in Syria.
“If there is a nuclear arms race in the Middle East I believe it will soon affect us,” he said, “If you want to write the entire Middle East off you do so at your own peril.”
Graham concluded by confessing to be optimistic about the U.S. and its place in today's dangerous times. “This is not the first time America has been challenged by bad people. Every time she's been challenged she has risen to the occasion.”