Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an early and vocal advocate of arming the Syrian rebels, told “Fox News Sunday” that “there is no way in hell” to destroy the ISIS/ISIL “without a substantial American component.”
“This is a turning point in the war on terror,” Graham said. “This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.”
Graham said this isn’t just an Arab/Muslim fight — “it is our fight.”
“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.” He called President Obama’s approach to the situation “delusional.”
“This is a radical Islamic army, that’s pushing the theory of a master religion, not a master race like the Nazis. This is not about bringing a few people to justice who behead the innocent in a brutal fashion. It’s about protecting millions of people throughout the world from a radical Islamic army. They’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.”
Graham noted that he and Sen. McCain have been urging the U.S. to support and train the Free Syrian Army for three years now.
“Instead of training the Free Syrian Army, the president overruled his entire national security team and abandoned the Free Syrian Army. We’re talking about an army now…31,000 is the best guess, holding territory in Iraq and Syria the size of Indiana.
“And for anybody to suggest that we can do this with airpower alone or this is like imminent Somali is disingenuous and delusional. I want a regional coalition, I want the Free Syrian Army in the fight, I want Arab countries in the fight, but here’s what I’m tired of hearing from this administration and my friends on the other side and within my party, that this is somehow easy and really not our fight.
“Name one Arab army you could put together anytime soon to deal with a terrorist army of over 30,000 without a substantial American commitment. Not the 82nd Airborne, but intelligence, Special Forces, to go in there and dig these guys out.
“I am tired of hearing from this administration how easy this is going to be, when it’s going to be hard and the consequences of losing, my friend, is if they survive our best shot, this is the last best chance, to knock them 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.”
“Senator Graham unfortunately is not fired up this morning,” “Fox News Sunday” substitute host John Roberts joked at the end of the interview.