Lindsey Graham: Iran Is Trying To Take Over Iraq, America Is Not The Bad Guy | Video | RealClearPolitics

Lindsey Graham: Iran Is Trying To Take Over Iraq, America Is Not The Bad Guy


Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke about Iran in an interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on "Sunday Morning Futures" today.

MARIA BARTIROMO: Your reaction, senator, to this latest vote coming out of Iran, to remove all foreign -- Iraq, rather -- to remove all foreign troops.

LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, it's a bit concerning. I hope all the Iranians would leave, but here's the point. The Iranian government is trying to basically take over Iraq's political system. Iran is bribing Iraqi politicians. To the Iraqi people: do not allow your politicians to turn Iraq into a proxy of Iran. I've got to read the details of this resolution. But here's what I think would serve the world well: if President Trump laid out what he wants Iran to do to relieve sanctions. I think this has been done before, but now is the time for the president to tell the world what we would like Iran to do to get back to a normal relationship. And here's my belief. It's not unreasonable. We would like them to stop being the largest state sponsor of terrorism, stop dismembering the Mid-East. Stop building rockets and missiles that could destroy the region, and eventually the United States. Stop being so provocative. So, I wish the president would tell the Iranians, "Here's exactly what you need to do for the sanctions to be lifted," and allow them to make a decision based on a way forward that's good for them in the region, and see what they would do.

MARIA BARTIROMO: I mean, Senator, the president keeps saying -- and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- that they don't necessarily want regime change. But can you really do the things --


MARIA BARTIROMO: -- that you're talking about, change behaviors, without a regime change? And how do you establish a regime change without an actual invasion?

LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, nobody is going to invade Iran. You don't need one American troop -- soldier on the ground to achieve what I'm trying to achieve. Everybody wants the regime to change. You'd have to be crazy to want it to stay the same. It's the largest state sponsor of terrorism. It threatens the existence of Israel. It supports Hezbollah with rockets and missiles, to destroy Israel. They've got American blood on their hands, Iraqi blood, Syrian blood. You know, everybody wants them to change. But here's what's missing: what would it take for them to change? What kind of change do we want? Lay it out. Let the world know that we're reasonable. And if they don't accept the offer to change, then you know you've got very limited choices when it comes to Iran. I don't think they'll change. I hope the Iraqi people -- excuse me, the Iranian people -- will take their government back from the ayatollah -- is the ultimate change.

MARIA BARTIROMO: But I mean, you know, the process of taking this guy down -- I mean, it's been a decade, where he has been deemed a terrorist, and nothing was done. The fact that he was --


MARIA BARTIROMO: -- taken out on a road --


MARIA BARTIROMO: -- Route Irish, where I'm told by military people that there's a lot of blood on that road -- there were Iranian IEDs on that road --


MARIA BARTIROMO: -- which killed servicemen and leadership in this country.


MARIA BARTIROMO: So, tell me what you think about the significance of taking him down where he was taken down, in Iraq, near the Baghdad airport?

LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, President Trump has really changed the equation here. For the first time in my lifetime, the Iranians are worried about the Americans. It used to be that we were worried about the Iranians exclusively. Now, I think they don't know what to do with Donald Trump. The fact that we killed this guy on Route Irish is a big deal. I've been on that road, in up-armored vehicles as a reservist. It's a very dangerous place. It was a target of opportunity for Iranian-backed militias against Americans. So, he met his death on a road that had been used to kill Americans. So, here's the point. The maximum pressure campaign against Iran is working. Their economy is in the toilet. Obama tried to get them to change by giving them a bunch of money and a new nuclear deal. That didn't work. Trump is trying to get them to change from -- through a maximum pressure campaign. What have we learned in the last 48 hours? The maximum pressure campaign has a military component. If the Iranians hit American targets, and American interests, and American allies, we will respond militarily. If they hit us again, then I would not want -- I would not want to be working at an Iranian oilfield, because I think the president is determined to bring this regime to its knees if they continue to be provocative.

MARIA BARTIROMO: Yeah. I mean, when the president said those 52 targets, you've got to believe that one of them -- or some of them -- are oil facilities for sure. Look, we've got a lot to get to with you. I want to talk about this upcoming Senate impeachment trial. But let me just end this conversation on this. There's a lot of pushback this morning against the administration for this move, coming from critics. You've got everybody from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -- I read her tweet -- earlier to the Secretary -- to Colin Kaepernick, Senator. Kaepernick writes, "There is nothing new about American terrorist attacks against black and brown people for the expansion of American imperialism." Your response.

LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah. Yeah. He's a loser on and off the field. He has no idea what the Iranian regime has done to the region. He has no idea that they have 600 American deaths as a result of IEDs made in Iran, used in Iraq. It's un-American. He's a racist. If you're looking for racism in America, Mr. Kaepernick, look in the mirror. Your country is not the problem. It's the Iranians. And you're so blinded by your hatred of Trump that you can't see the difference between who we are and who the Ayatollah is. Pretty sad.

MARIA BARTIROMO: So, you don't believe Congress should have been spoken to first before this strike? The president was obviously responding to attacks, but what's your take, in terms of Congress?

LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, I've been a military lawyer for 33 years. These troops are in the field at the direction of the commander-in-chief with the support of the Congress. You do not need congressional authorization to defend troops in the field in harm’s way. AOC doesn’t know anything about the law of armed conflict, obviously. Every commander-in-chief has the right to defend our people on the battlefield. It was clear to me that this was a defensive strike, that Mr. Soleimani was planning additional attacks against American interests. In AOC’s world, I guess we’re supposed to sit back and watch a bunch of Americans get killed. We’re not the bad guys. The Iranians are the bad guys, and if you don't see that, you’ve missed a lot in the last 40 years.

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