Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is distraught that the United States is leaving Afghanistan for good. He is correct that the withdrawal from the country orchestrated by President Joe Biden has been nothing short of a disaster, but that’s not the reason he is overwrought. No, the real reason Senator Graham is up and arms about the withdrawal is that the U.S. is finally discontinuing its war hawk agenda, at least in Afghanistan. Graham would like nothing more than to stay put in the Middle East and fight endless wars forever.
Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority (70%) of Americans want to leave the country for good, Graham is undeterred. The Senator, who was immensely popular as one of former President Donald Trump’s strongest defenders, is now losing support in his own party. Democrats, for the record, have always despised Mr. Graham and his tendencies, especially after the confirmation hearings for current Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Now, Graham is fighting for any support to continue America’s involvement in Afghanistan and the Middle East as a whole.
Graham’s War Hawk Background
Lindsey Graham has always been dubbed a ‘war hawk’ by political commentators. That description is very befitting of a man that has always advocated for strong military intervention in foreign countries. Graham, who was first elected in 2002 to replace retiring Senator Strom Thurmond, first showed his colors by supporting the Iraq Resolution, the document leading to the invasion of Iraq. He has since reaffirmed his support of the War in Iraq. Graham further stated that toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein was paramount to U.S. safety and security abroad. He, along with Republican colleague and close friend John McCain, strongly advocated for U.S. intervention in a variety of countries. This included but was not limited to Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Graham also served as a thorn in former President Barack Obama during his term as Executive in Chief. At one point, he threatened to block the nomination of Obama nominee from Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. His rationale was that Hagel would be antagonistic toward the state of Israel. On that point, Graham has always been a staunch ally of Israel, saying that Israel represents America’s greatest ally. Furthermore, Graham opposed a budget resolution that would decrease spending, saying it would create a “hollow military that invites aggression”. The Senator has always been a proponent of a large military budget as you might imagine, saying previously that he supports former President Trump’s “peace through strength” agenda which essentially spelled out that the U.S. must maintain a powerful military that deters other countries from ever even considering attacking the U.S.
As previously mentioned, Lindsey Graham is a strong supporter of the War in Afghanistan. He has said that the U.S. should keep a permanent military force in the country to prevent the Taliban from ever taking back the country. Graham has stated that the Afghan government supports a U.S. military presence, although some Afghans have refuted this point. Senator Graham has also come out recently as very much opposed to President Biden’s plan to withdraw from Afghanistan.
He has said that the U.S. leaving the country could lead to “another 9/11” terrorist attack. Graham further advocated for Biden to send troops back into the country to secure the airport in Kabul. He stated that the U.S. must “accept the risk” of a Taliban attack and stay in Afghanistan past Biden’s self-imposed August 31 deadline to ensure all Americans and Afghan allies can leave the country safely. Graham has also called Biden’s handling of Afghanistan a disaster.
The Senator’s Motives
One question that often arises when examining Lindsey Graham’s record of hawkishness is what drives his beliefs? The answer is likely twofold. One, Graham genuinely believes that America’s intervention into every country has a net positive effect, despite evidence to the contrary. Additionally, Graham believes that terrorism can be fought effectively and above all controlled overseas. This means that if America can keep the terrorists on the run, they will never make it to the U.S.
While this is partially true given what Isis was doing five years ago, the Senator is a bit misguided. The truth of the matter is that global terrorism is just what it is, global. It is objectively impossible to ever totally eradicate terrorism worldwide or to even expel it from the countries that the U.S. currently occupies. The reason for this is that terrorists operate on an ideology, one that is fanatical and religious in nature. This means that they are impossible to defeat, and thus Graham’s attempts are futile.
The second part of the equation is simply the Military-Industrial Complex. Senator Graham directly benefits from endless wars in the Middle East. Case in point is his 2016 run for President. During the 2015 campaign cycle, Graham’s Super-Pac received $2.9 million in donations, the bulk of which came from defense contractors. Billionaire Ron Perelman, the owner of AM General, which manufacturers humvees and other military equipment, donated $500,000 to Graham’s Pac. Additionally, the major defense contractor General Electric, owned by Jeffrey Immelt, contributed $25,000 to Graham’s Super Pac. Clearly, these individuals would have stood to benefit if Graham had become President because he campaigned on strengthening the military. And with a stronger and larger military comes more need for defense contracts. These would likely go to the companies that funded Graham’s own campaign.
Graham has even said openly that if he was a defense contractor, he would support a candidate like himself. He stated, “If I were a defense contractor, I’d be big time for Lindsey Graham because I’ve been forward-leaning on rebuilding our military”. Clearly, Graham seeks to build up the military, and in the process help out his ‘friends’ in the defense industry. This was made crystal clear during Graham’s aforementioned 2016 Presidential campaign.
In debate after debate, Graham argued that the U.S. needs 10-15,000 soldiers in the Middle East to fight terrorism. Many will recall his “boots on the ground” remarks when speaking about this subject. Many times during the debates, Graham would go so far as to avoid addressing certain topics just to speak about his desire for “boots on the ground”. Clearly, Lindsey Graham has two distinct motives for wanting to participate in endless wars. His recent comments and desire to stay in Afghanistan only further that narrative.
Why Graham is a South Carolina Disaster
Senator Graham, on policies other than war, is generally reliably in line with the Republican Party. Agree or disagree with him, he is generally pragmatic and has made some efforts to work with the other side. His evolving support for former President Trump has confused some, as he has gone from being a frequent critic of the ‘Orange Menace’ to a staunch supporter. Some question his motives, but most attribute it to Trump’s agenda of generally supporting the military and as a result, Graham’s own agenda.
What really angered Graham about Trump was, just as with Biden, Trump attempted on multiple occasions to leave Afghanistan. This was something the former President campaigned on and at the time of his Presidency, was immensely popular. Graham, however, repeatedly discouraged this action, eventually helping to put it off until the beginning of Trump’s next term. The problem was that Trump ended up not getting reelected and now Biden is following through with Trump’s withdrawal plan.
Graham is a disaster because he doesn’t care about his constituents, many of which want to leave the Middle East for good. Instead, he supports lobbyists, donors, and his own personal belief that endless wars in the Middle East can have a positive outcome. The sad truth is that Graham is not completely at fault for his beliefs. As previously stated, wars trying to combat an ideology are inevitably going to end up in failure or total defeat. Just ask the people of South Vietnam. The U.S. was never going to win a war against the ideology of Communism, at least not a military victory.
So, the U.S. eventually cut its losses and left the country to its fate. This is what Graham must realize about endless wars in other parts of the world, especially in the Middle East. It is unfortunate that Kabul has become the 21st century’s version of Saigon, but if its’ fate was sealed right from the beginning (it was), why try to fight fate? Graham is perhaps the definition of stubborn because he doesn’t change his beliefs no matter how much the conditions of a situation change (other than on Trump of course). So it is in fact unfortunate that Graham is synonymous with interventionist and war hawk.
Lindsey Graham is and continues to be a warmongering disaster. At a time where so many Americans just want to leave countries like Afghanistan, Graham continues his war hawk tendencies. Yes, it is true that terrorists operating out of Middle Eastern countries attacked America and killed thousands of people. But 20 years of war has not changed the possibility that something like that could happen again. Graham is not a disaster because of his other beliefs (although that’s debatable), rather he is unfit because of his aggressiveness and lack of hesitation to make military intervention his number one priority.
Generally speaking, there is almost always a diplomatic way to solve a crisis rather than sending in troops. But Graham, even if he never advances past the U.S. Senate, will never admit this. He is too hell-bent on occupying foreign countries with American troops who have no business being there. Lindsey Graham is undeniably a South Carolina disaster when it comes to foreign policy, and if there ever comes a time when sound advice on this front is need, don’t look towards Senator Graham.
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