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“If War Is Hell, What Is Perpetual War?”: The Question That Lindsey Graham Should Be Asked Every Day

I’ve been staring at Sen. Lindsey’s Graham’s comments yesterday from Fox News Sunday, when he criticized the president’s big counter-terrorism speech, and wondering what it would take to satisfy him that it’s time to declare the Global War On Terrorism over?

At a time we need resolved the most, we are sounding retreat. Our enemies are emboldened all over the planet. Al Qaeda in Iraq is coming back with vengeance, in Libya together. Our friends are uncertain. Syria is falling apart. We are talking about helping the rebels but doing nothing about it. Iran is marching toward a nuclear weapon….

At the end of the day, this is the most tone deaf president I’ve ever — could imagine and making such a speech at a time when our homeland is trying to be — attacked literally every day.

So are the only alternatives for the United States a world free of threats or perpetual war? That would seem to be Graham’s essential argument. And what a forfeiture of national sovereignty he calls for, if we are prohibited from adjusting our national security strategy and returning to a normal constitutional regime so long as one “emboldened” enemy or “uncertain” friend might notice!

The habit, carried over from the Cold War, of waging undeclared wars fought under hazy international and domestic auspices is dangerous enough. The idea that anything other than a permanent war footing invites disaster is an extension of the Cold War “Peace Through Strength” doctrine that in fact rules out peace.

If, as Sherman rightly said, “War is hell!”–then what kind of existence do advocates of perpetual war propose for us? It’s a question that Lindsey Graham should be asked to ponder every time he objects to even the smallest steps away from fear and hysteria.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 27, 2013

May 28, 2013 - Posted by | National Security | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Perhaps the main reason we should all care about retiring Lindsey Graham is the carelessness with which he advocates the use of American military force. There is something disturbing about someone who has never seen combat being so consistently eager to deploy other peoples sons and daughters overseas. Maybe that’s why he has falsely and repeatedly claimed to be a Gulf War veteran.

    I believe that there are people in government who appreciate our military’s capabilities but are frustrated when they aren’t being employed. It’s like having a brand new sports car in your garage all gassed up, the keys in the ignition, but not being able to take it for a spin.

    Lindsey Graham voted to authorize the use of force in both Iraq and Afghanistan. You might think Graham would have been chastened when these two wars left over 100,000 civilians and U.S. soldiers dead or wounded and our economy on life support. You might think he would resign, maybe to write a memoir in the hope that we could at least learn from his mistakes. At the very least, you might think he would shy away from any future discussion of foreign policy. But Graham isn’t cut from that cloth. Instead, he’s weighing in on Syria. After reviewing all the facts, he’s come to a conclusion. Can you guess what it is? He says we need boots on the ground and we need to bomb the country with cruise missiles.

    There are so many ways this can backfire. Cornering Assad with U.S. force would make it more likely – not less – that he would resort to using chemical weapons out of desperation. The Arab proverb is “an enemy of my enemy is my friend” and intervening would make us friends with the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Nusra Front, Syria’s al-Qaida. We could end up spending money and American lives replacing a brutal dictatorship with a radical theocracy. Lindsey actually wants us to arm fractured rebel groups, many of whom have already committed war crimes. Their empowerment would risk the disintegration of any central government and could turn Syria into a sort of lawless failed state like Somalia, even more of a refuge for terrorists than it is currently. Not to know how wrongheaded it is to intervene is to ignore the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan and also to ignore the complexity of the Syrian situation, which virtually guarantees undesired and unintended consequences.

    Lindsey, can you look into the eyes of these troops, or their parents, and honestly tell them that deploying on this mission has a high probability of making Americans safer, advancing the interests of the United States or contributing to regional stability in the Middle East? In fact, intervening in the crisis will not do any of these things.
    Can you look into the eyes of the veterans of past wars who are disabled and homeless and tell them they just need to wait longer to get the help they need because we need those billions of dollars to fight yet another war? And how can we claim to support the troops when we send them to war and forget when they get home, voting to cut benefits for people who risked everything to serve our country?

    Has Lindsey Graham thought about how $1.4 trillion in war spending could have been used to improve people’s lives? We could have increased funding for the National Institutes of Health by 600% every year for the last 10 years, speeding the development of treatments and cures for cancer, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, MS, and countless other diseases that destroy more lives every year than any Islamic terrorist could dream of. We could have provided low-income healthcare to 70 million people for 10 years, or hired an additional 2 million public elementary school teachers for 10 years. We could have provided 17 million military veterans VA medical care for 10 years, or provided 4-year university scholarships to 40 million students.

    Don’t let Lindsey Graham (or anyone else) question your patriotism because you disagree with his foreign policy views. This is a senator who single-handedly blocked President Obama’s popular choice for Defense Secretary – not out of principled opposition – but to gain leverage over the President on a completely unrelated issue. As a result, the United States was without a Secretary of Defense at a time of escalating tensions overseas.

    Even though you may not be able to vote for me, I’m running what amounts to a national race against Graham because it’s going to take the support of people from all over the country to defeat Graham, who has raised millions of dollars from out-of-state special interests.


    Comment by Jay Stamper | May 28, 2013 | Reply

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