The United States and international community must soon decide whether it will crack down on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad with the same military force it has deployed against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday.
“It has gotten to the point where Gadhafi’s behavior and Assad’s behavior are indistinguishable,” the South Carolina Republican and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “The reason we went into Libya is to protect the Libyan people from wholesale slaughter. ... But if you really care about the Syrian people, preventing them from being slaughtered, you need to put on the table all options, including a model like we have in Libya.”
Protests in Libya have evolved into a civil war, and the United States has been assisting NATO for more than two months as it conducts airstrikes to enforce a no-fly zone and arms embargo to protect civilians.
Graham had recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan, and he was upbeat about the prospects for beginning a gradual drawdown of U.S. troops.
“I’m very encouraged that we’re on the offense. We’ve got a long way to go, but this has turned around in the last year pretty dramatically on the security front,” he said.
“If progress continues in Afghanistan, where there are no safe havens for insurgents, virtually no safe havens, we could have a substantial number of our troops at home with the Afghans in the lead if we stay with the program we have today,” he said.
The biggest threat to Afghanistan is terrorist havens in Pakistan, according to Graham.
“We’re on a collision course with Pakistan. If this doesn’t change soon, I would urge the president to use more aggressive military force against safe havens in the Pakistan side of the border,” he said, calling for benchmarks to measure the nation’s cooperation, as well as Afghanistan’s.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.