U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, feeling reinvigorated by his party's strong showing in the midterm elections, did a little saber rattling when addressing the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada Saturday.
With the Republicans now controlling Congress, Graham said: ". . . the likelihood of a precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq has gone down." And he strongly implied that the threat of an American military action against Iran would be supported by the new Republican majority. The election results were ". . . good news for President Obama if he wants to be bold on Iran," Graham went on to say, according to the Halifax Forum website.
The senator from South Carolina, who sits on the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, gave the world a taste of what American foreign policy would be like under Republican control. He sees the U.S. butting heads with Tehran as almost inevitable. AP reports Graham believes if the United States were to go to war against the Islamic republic, it would not be to:
". . . just neutralize their nuclear program, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard, in other words neuter that regime."
According to CNN Politics, Graham told reporters:
"Instead of a surgical strike on their nuclear infrastructure, I think we're to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime's ability to wage war against us and our allies. And that's a different military scenario. It's not a ground invasion but it certainly destroys the ability of the regime to strike back."
Screen Grab from CPAC Halifax Forum coverage
Republican Senators John McCain, left, and Lindsey Graham at the Halifax International Security Forum held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
He admitted that "the last thing the U.S. wants is another military conflict after Afghanistan and Iraq, but the last thing the world needs is a nuclear-armed Iran... Containment is off the table."
Graham argued: "If we use force, we open Pandora ’s Box, but if we let them get nuclear weapons, we empty Pandora’s Box."
Also sitting with Senator Graham on the panel looking at the ramifications of the recent U.S. midterms on American foreign policy was the Democratic Senator Mark Udall from Colorado.
Udall expressed some skepticism about the forceful approach championed by Graham.
Democratic Senator from New Mexico, Mark Udall
He asked, "If we project deadly seriousness, does that mean they will step down?" He insisted, "if there are changes in the U.S. defense posture, they will be incremental."
Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak, also in attendance at the conference, added this warning to Graham's words: "Iran is a major threat to any conceivable world order." But Barak also said, "We are still in the stage of diplomacy and sanctions."
Canada's CTV News reported:
"Graham surprised attendees at the Halifax International Security Forum with his hawkish rhetoric, saying an attack could cripple Iran's nuclear program as well as its armed forces." Other sources said Graham's position left many "stunned."