On Saturday, Lindsey Graham told Jeanine Pirro of Fox News that if American troops are pulled out of Syria, ISIS will come back, there could be another 9/11 and President Trump “will own it.”
Graham appeared on “Justice with Judge Jeanine” and laid out his thinking in defense of maintaining a small “footprint” of U.S. forces there to help prevent a resurgence of ISIS, to prevent ethnic cleansing of the Kurds at the hands of Turkey and to keep Iran from overrunning the region and taking control of the oil fields in southern Syria.
“How long should we be there?” Pirro asked the senator.
“The day ISIS surrenders, call me,” Graham replied. “We should be there as long as there is a threat. I’m not asking for an endless war. I am just trying to be smart here. You know, Bush sent 100,000 people in, that didn’t work. Obama left, that didn’t work. What Trump has done is actually pretty smart. A couple hundred of us, less than a thousand, working with the Kurds and the Arabs on the ground, let them do the fighting. We provide air cover and that has worked.”
“All I can say, it takes two to end the war,” he continued. “You may be tired of fighting radical Islam, but they’re not tired of fighting you. If we abandon the Kurds, ISIS will come back and if there is an attack here or against our allies, President Trump owns it — and you can avoid all of that with less than a thousand troops.”
Graham went on to talk about the fact that significant threats remain from radical Islam.
“Here’s what you need to recognize, if you ignore them, they won’t ignore you. September the 10th, 2001, we did not have any soldiers in Afghanistan, not a dime of aid to the country, not even an embassy, we got attacked anyway. They’re not going to quit fighting us,” he said. “If you don’t get that, I am so sorry to the people that think if you leave radical Islam alone, they’ll leave you alone. They will try to kill us until we stop them. The best way to stop them is to have people in the region do the fighting with a little bit of help from us. Obama left Iraq. How well did that work out?”
“President Trump has actually done something really smart,” Graham continued. “We destroyed the caliphate. But they’re not destroyed as a force. But the caliphate was destroyed with eight American casualties over four years because the Kurds and the Arabs did the fighting. The Kurds lost around 10,000 people. They’re doing the fighting with our help. That is the model. A couple hundred of us working with the Kurds to keep the 10,000 from coming back is really smart.”
“Guarding the oil fields in the south is smart so that Iran doesn’t take them over is smart. Here’s what I would advise President Trump to do and I think he’ll do it — do a deal, take over those oil fields in the south,” Graham suggested. “Share the revenue with the Arabs and the Kurds who helped us fight ISIS and keep the money away from Iran and Assad. You could actually make money in Syria if you took the oilfields over and shared the revenue.
“I think the president has created an opportunity here,” he said. “I will give him a lot of credit for weighing in and stopping the fighting — but I talked to the leader of the Kurdish forces, he’s very concerned. Here’s what we should do. We should find a safe zone to protect Turkey. The YPG Kurds, in the eyes of Turkey, they are a terrorist group. But they were the people that helped us destroy ISIS. It is complicated, what do you do? You protect the Kurds, you don’t abandon them, you keep ISIS from coming back with a small American footprint. You keep a safe zone and create one between Turkey and the Kurds, but you do not allow Turkey to ethnically cleanse Kurds from the Syrian border. You cannot do that. You cannot allow Turkey to displace hundreds of thousands of Kurds, that is not a safe zone. That’s ethnic cleansing. And when Turkey hears that America will not tolerate that, they won’t do it.”
Watch the interview segment here:
Video by Fox News
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