In a fiery appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) attacked Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, praised President Donald Trump, and suggested “regime change” in Syria is necessary for success.
Host Chuck Todd asked Graham whether ISIS would remain the Trump administration’s top priority going forward or if Assad’s reign would become a more pressing issue, to which Graham responded, “I think ISIS should be Germany and Assad should be Japan, like World War II analogies here. Accelerate the demise of ISIL; they’re a direct threat to the homeland, Assad’s not. But I’ve never been more encouraged by the Trump administration than I am today.”
“Ambassador Nikki Haley just said on your program, ‘You’ll never end the war with Assad in power,’” Graham said. “So that means regime change is now the policy of the Trump administration. That’s, at least, what I’ve heard. So, you need more American troops to accelerate the demise of ISIL. We’re relying too much on the Kurds. More American forces, 5,000 or 6,000, would attract more regional fighters to destroy ISIL.”
Graham also suggested the Trump administration should threaten Russia.
“You need a safe haven quickly so people can regroup inside of Syria,” Graham said. “Then you train the opposition to go after Assad. That’s how he’s taken out—by his own people, with our efforts. And you tell the Russians, ‘If you continue to bomb the people we train, we’ll shoot you down.’”
Graham was also asked by Todd whether there’s “a moral difference between the use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs,” and Graham responded with a quote that shocked Todd.
“No, there’s a legal difference, not a moral difference. If you're a mother, your baby is dead. But we do have treaties that we've signed all over the world saying we're not going to let one nation use weapons of mass destruction. That's what the chemical weapons treaty is all about. But I will say this: If you kill babies with conventional bombs, it's still a moral outrage. Here's what I think Assad's telling Trump by flying from this base: ‘F you.’ And I think he's making a serious mistake. Because if you're an adversary of the United States and you don't worry about what Trump may do on any given day, then you’re crazy.”
“Wow,” Todd replied. “I have to say, you used the initials, but I think that's a first for ‘Meet the Press,’ Sen. Graham.”
Following Trump’s attack on a Syrian airbase on Thursday, Assad launched another attack, this time using conventional weapons, on the Syrian town of Sheikhoun on Saturday, killing one woman and wounding at least two others, according to a report by the New York Post.
The population of the town had been greatly reduced after Assad’s Tuesday attack, in which Assad used sarin gas to kill 87 people, including 31 children and 20 women.