Sen. Lindsey Graham said there will be another attack similar to 9/11 if the United States does not put troops on the ground in Syria and Iraq.
“They’re coming here if we don’t stop them there,” the Republican presidential candidate said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.
Graham’s remarks come after ISIS claimed responsibility for the wave of attacks in Paris on Friday, as well as bombings in Beirut and the Russian plane crash in Egypt earlier this month.
He said the other presidential candidates are not fit to be the next commander in chief if they don’t understand this threat. Graham, a former Air Force colonel, has long boasted that he has more foreign policy experience than his Republican rivals, particularly political outsiders and front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson.
He insisted Sunday that the only way to protect the country is to change the current strategy, specifically calling out President Barack Obama’s reluctance to put more troops in the Middle East and ordering airstrikes instead.
“You’re only going to win this war if you go on offense, you’ll never win from the air,” Graham said. “There is a 9/11 coming, and it is coming from Syria if we don’t disrupt their operation inside of Syria.”
Graham said he hopes France will invoke Article Five of the NATO treaty, which would declare the attack on Paris an assault on all of its NATO allies, thus requiring support — including militarily — from its allies.
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“They should,” Graham declared. “The world should be at war with ISIL.”
Graham added that the United States should build a regional army with its Arab and NATO allies, and to accomplish this, he said, America must commit to taking out Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, something Graham said Obama has not done.
“Without putting Assad on the table, you’re not gonna be able to rally the region,” he said.
Graham recognized that Russia poses a problem to this goal because of its support for Assad, but he said that invoking the Article Five would potentially persuade Russia to change its course.
“If you want to fight for Assad, that would be your choice, but what you will be doing is fighting the entire world,” Graham said. “You’ll be fighting the region, Turkey, all the Arabs, us, the French.”
The candidate believes Russia would back out if put in that position.
Graham reiterated his belief that the United State is facing an imminent threat from ISIS.
“We’re gonna fight ISIL in their backyard or we’re gonna fight ISIL in our backyard,” he said. “I choose to fight them in their backyard. I choose to fight them in Raqqa, not on the streets of the Western capitals of the word or American cities.”
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