More so than most, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) seems absolutely convinced that Islamic State terrorists pose some kind of existential threat to the United States. It was Graham who, just a few weeks ago, insisted that if Obama “does not go on the offensive against ISIS,” presumably in Syria, “they are coming here.” The senator added, “[I]f we do get attacked, then he will have committed a blunder for the ages.”
Somehow, he’s managed to become even less subtle. On “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, guest host John Roberts asked Graham if he has any faith that President Obama’s plan against ISIS is going to work. “Not much,” the senator replied, adding, “We’re fighting a terrorist army, not an organization. It’s going to take an army to beat an army. And this idea we’ll never have any boots on the ground to defeat them in Syria is fantasy…. It’s delusional in the way they approach this.”
And then Graham really let loose.
“[T]hey’re intending to come here. So, I will not let this president suggest to the American people we can outsource our security and this is not about our safety. There is no way in hell you can form an army on the ground to go into Syria, to destroy ISIL without a substantial American component. And to destroy ISIL, you have to kill or capture their leaders, take the territory they hold back, cut off their financing and destroy their capability to regenerate.“This is a war we’re fighting, it is not a counterterrorism operation! This is not Somalia; this is not Yemen; this is a turning point in the war on terror. Our strategy will fail yet again. This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.”
In case it’s not obvious, “rise to the occasion” can be roughly translated to mean “do what Lindsey Graham wants.”
The senator concluded, “[I]f they survive our best shot, this is the last best chance, to knock him out, then they will open the gates of hell to spill out on the world. This is not a Sunni versus Sunni problem, this is ISIL versus mankind.”
Fox’s guest host, slightly taken aback, joked, “Senator Graham unfortunately is not fired up this morning.” It was sarcasm, of course – the South Carolinian’s appearance was pretty over the top, even for him.
Graham, whose spectacular errors of fact and judgment during the war in Iraq are well documented, is clearly sincere in his hawkish views, but there is still no reason to believe ISIS poses an imminent threat to the United States – just as there’s no reason to believe ISIS is capable of killing all of us.
We were reminded over the weekend, however, that Islamic State is entirely capable of committing brutal murders. The terrorist group released another still-unverified video Saturday, purporting to show the execution of British aid worker David Cawthorne Haines.
A day later, the Obama administration announced some diplomatic progress in the region.
The Obama administration said Sunday that “several” Arab nations had offered to join in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but any sustained military campaign does not appear imminent, and is likely to require an even more significant commitment from other nations and fighting forces in the region.In interviews and public statements, administration and military officials described a battle plan that would not accelerate in earnest until disparate groups of Iraqi forces, Kurds and Syrian rebels stepped up to provide the fighting forces on the ground. Equipping, training and coordinating that effort is a lengthy process, officials cautioned.
Meanwhile, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough appeared on “Meet the Press” and summarized how the administration would define “success” against ISIS. “[S]uccess looks like an ISIL that no longer threatens our friends in the region, no longer threatens the United States, an ISIL that can’t accumulate followers or threaten Muslims in Syria, Iraq or otherwise,” he said.