CHARLESTON, S.C. - Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday that the U.S. must commit 20,000 more troops to Iraq if that nation's fledgling democracy is to survive.
"If I didn't believe the Iraqi people were still willing to get this right and could get this right, I would not ask one person to go," the South Carolina Republican said after a trip to Iraq. "And I would ask that those who are there come home because I know they are in danger."
"I believe we can still salvage this and I believe it enough to put more Americans into the fight," said Mr. Graham, who visited with a congressional delegation that included Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
"We never had enough troops to do all the jobs required of our military and I am hoping we will surge additional troops into Iraq to build on the successes of the last year," Mr. Graham said during a conference call from Frankfurt, Germany.
Democrat Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said Friday the problem was not the number of troops.
"The problem is what the mission is," said the incoming House majority whip, who visited Iraq last May. "We have to begin a redeployment of those troops."
Mr. Clyburn said Iraq's borders needed better protection.
Mr. Graham's delegation visited Baghdad and Ramadi and met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
"We delivered the most blunt message we could about the deteriorating political support at home and the lack of time," Mr. Graham said. "What I am looking for on his part is a real effort very soon to go after the militia."
Mr. Graham, on his fifth visit to Iraq, said he left after last year's Iraqi elections "full of hope and optimism ... I must say a year later I am greatly concerned about this infant democracy."
There are really three wars going on, Mr. Graham said.
In the west, the battle is about assimilation in a Sunni Muslim area where some want to be part of the government while others hope to create a religious state in an area where al-Qaida has its biggest presence.
Baghdad "is almost on the verge of open sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites" while in the south, Shiite militias battle each other for control.
The Iraqi police, in many places infiltrated by militia, will have to be rebuilt "from the ground up," Mr. Graham warned.
Mr. Clyburn said more troops just puts more Americans in danger.