GOOSE CREEK, S.C. — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that while South Carolinians and the nation are weary of war, the United States must make an effective strike in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people.
“I don’t want an open-ended, unlimited military campaign,” the Republican told reporters before speaking to a chamber of commerce group. “I’m not supporting a ‘check the box’ strike. I want a strike that will degrade Assad’s ability to deliver chemical weapons and change the tide of battle.”
Graham and Arizona Sen. John McCain met with President Obama on Monday and gave conditional support for an attack.
Graham said Tuesday that the president must lay out a clear case to Congress.
“This is the most illogical military operation I have ever seen – ramping up for war, then backing off. Not coming to Congress, then coming to Congress without telling the American people is just bizarre, but we are where we are,” said Graham, who expects a vote next week.
“The president of the United States has to tell us that Syria is a place we should care about,” Graham said.
“If you’re wondering here in South Carolina why Syria matters, I can tell you very quickly,” he said. “If the Iranians believe we don’t have the willingness and resolve to deal with Assad when he uses chemical weapons, they are going to take it as a sign we don’t care about their nuclear program.”
Graham said nuclear and chemical weapon technologies are nightmares in the hands of terrorists.
“My biggest fear is the technology developed by the Iranians could wind up in the hands of a terrorist and then it comes to Charleston Harbor or New York Harbor,” he said.
If Obama doesn’t get the votes for military action, it will be a symbol of weakness, Graham said. “But if he has a plan that has no chance of success, a weak response, that’s just as bad. I will only support a plan that has some chance of success.”