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Posted at 11:40 AM ET, 04/03/2011

Sen. Lindsey Graham: We should arm Libyan rebels if it ‘makes sense’


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks during a news conference with fellow senators at the U.S. Capitol March 10 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla - GETTY IMAGES)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday discussed the administration’s policy in Libya and Iraq, saying the policy pursued in the former was confusing and would “lead to a stalemate,” while the policy pursued in the latter would allow for a “State Department Army” — something he would not support.

“The strategy is confusing to the American people,” Graham said of the Obama administration’s policy in Libya. “It’s demoralizing to our allies, and I think it’s encouraging for our enemies. . . .This strategy is going to lead to a stalemate.”

Graham, in an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” said troops should be sent to Tripoli to go after Gaddafi directly and that the United States should provide arms to the anti-Gaddafi rebels if it “makes sense.”

Graham also expressed concern over the administration’s policy in Iraq. “We’re inside the 10-yard line in terms of finishing the job in Iraq,” he said, adding he did not believe that the State Department could continue state building efforts without 10,000-15,000 U.S. troops on the ground.

Graham also said he would oppose what he called a “State Department Army,” referring to the private security guards and military hardware the State Department said it would need to keep members of its staff safe on the ground in Iraq. “We’re going to have private security guards providing security,” Graham said. “You’re talking about a fleet of helicopters.” Graham called on the Obama administration to work with the administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to ensure that the drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq would not reverse the gains that had been made there, and that the pace of the drawdown would be done at a rate that would not require the acquisition of military hardware by the State Department.

Graham’s complaint is not new. In February, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates made an impassioned plea that Congress keep the $5.2 billion allocation in the fiscal 2012 budget request for the State Department to continue the training of Iraqi police among other programs previously carried out by the Pentagon, Graham called the proposed plan “surging on the civilian side. . . . As we draw down our troops, the civilian-military partnership is essential to holding and building.”

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By  |  11:40 AM ET, 04/03/2011

Categories:  Congress

 
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