Lindsey Graham on Foreign Policy

Republican Sr Senator; previously Representative (SC-3)


Create safe haven for refugees, not bring them to US

Q: There was breaking news that according to French authorities at least one of the Islamist terrorists smuggled himself into France, embedded among refugees from Syria. Do you still believe that the U.S. needs to take its fair share of Syrian refugees?

GRAHAM: I believe the United States and the world needs to go on offense and stop the reason people have to leave Syria. The good people are leaving because they're being raped and murdered and some terrorists are trying to get in their ranks. The best thing the world could do for Syrian people is to create a safe haven within Syria, a no-fly zone. The best thing the United States could do to protect the homeland is go on offense, to form a regional army with the French and go on the ground to destroy their caliphate.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interview series on Syrian Refugee crisis , Nov 15, 2015

Let China choose: clenched fist or open hand

Do you think Putin would be in the Ukraine if Ronald Reagan were president? Why are the Chinese stealing our intellectual property? Because they can get away with it. The foreign policy of Barack Obama needs to be replaced, and the last person you want to replace his foreign policy is his secretary of state. To the Chinese, when it comes to dealing with me, you've got a clenched fist or an open hand. You pick. Make me commander-in-chief and this crap stops.
Source: GOP "Your Money/Your Vote" 2015 CNBC 2nd-tier debate , Oct 28, 2015

Destroy Iran's nuclear program, & also its air force & navy

Q: You said that, as president, you would move to not only destroy Iran's nuclear program, but even take out its air force and navy if they went too far with this nuclear program. Do you really think Americans have the stomach for another war in the Middle East?

A: If the Iranians walk away from the table, and tried to break out and get a nuclear weapon, if we can't end their program peacefully, I would stop them. If they get a nuclear weapon, the Sunni Arabs will want a nuclear weapon of their own, and we're on the road to a nuclear arms race in the Mideast. I think a good outcome is to basically leave the interim deal in place and give the next president a chance to conclude a final agreement with the Iranians.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 12, 2015

Work with Iran to fight ISIS, but no to Iranian nuclear deal

A member of the Senate Armed Services, Graham has strongly opposed the framework nuclear deal currently under negotiation between the Obama administration and the government in Tehran. The senator wants full, anytime access for international inspectors to Iranian facilities and insists that Iran pledge that it will not attempt to destroy Israel. Graham has defended Israel's actions in the West Bank and accused the Obama administration of adding to tension with the Jewish state.

Known as a strong proponent of the use of American military force, Graham proposes sending 10,000 U.S. troops to fight Islamic State. He believes the U.S. ultimately will have no choice but to send more combat troops to the region. He has long advocated the use of airstrikes, applauding the White House for attacks it approved in September. Graham said in 2014 that the U.S. should work with Iran to coordinate the fight against Islamic State and to keep Iraq stable.

Source: PBS News Hour "2016 Candidate Stands" series , Jun 1, 2015

Congress will not approve Iran nuclear deal

Q: President Obama seemed to indicate that he would be willing to lift sanctions on Iran faster than seemed to have been agreed. Is that yet another concessions to the Iranians?

A: Don't think there's a snowball chance in hell that a Congress is going to approve this framework the way it's set up. The ayatollah saying he gets immediate sanction relief with no intrusive inspections.

Q: So what's your plan for a nuclear deal with Iran?

A: I will release today nine core principles of what I think a good deal will look like. Any time, anywhere inspections of military/nonmilitary facilities will be a bipartisan must. So, this idea that we can't go where we need to go is going to fail. The Chinese are talking about building five reactors for the Iranians. Any nuclear enrichment program must be limited to one reactor. At the end of the day, you can't lift sanctions until the behavior of Iran changes. They can longer be a state sponsor of terrorism before you lift sanctions down the road.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Apr 19, 2015

Condemn & isolate Cuba; they deserve no new engagement

Q: Let's talk about President Obama's surprise to resume relations with Cuba. You were very much against that. Isn't Cuba is a good place for Americans to be selling American products.

GRAHAM: Well, North Korea would be great place to sell products. They don't have anything. When America engages a country, we do so with our moral voice, just not cigars & rum. So, for the last 50 years, Cuba's gone from being an interventionist communist power in Angola to Grenada, to a backwater, poor dictatorship. And without any reason, we have changed our policy. Look in your vault of CBS News stories in 2013 and 2014 and show me one where Cuba is becoming more democratic. The Congress is not going to reinforce this policy. There will be no confirmation of an ambassador to Cuba because the Castro brothers are terrible dictators who deserve no new engagement. They deserve to be condemned and isolated.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Dec 21, 2014

Cuba is still a security threat to America; no aid

Q: What about restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba?

GRAHAM: When it comes to funding any proposed embassy in Cuba, I'm in charge of all foreign aid; will do everything I can to limit to size and scope of this embassy, because you are rewarding people who kidnap Americans and who really are still communists in every way.

Q: Do you think that Cuba at this point in time represents a security threat to America?

GRAHAM: Last year, the Cubans were shipping arms to North Korea in violation of the embargo. Yes. Cuba to me represents everything that threatens us. Are we safe when somebody right off our shores practices totalitarian communism in our backyard? They were actively trying to send weapons to North Korea a year ago. Should we be worried about North Korea? Yes. Should we be worried about Cuba? Yes. And Iran is watching. I can only imagine what the ayatollahs in Iran must be saying when our president reaches out to a communist dictatorship that has done nothing to change.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Dec 21, 2014

Sanctions on North Korea: terrorist list & China's help

Q: What should the president do about North Korea?

GRAHAM: Make it so hard on the North Koreans, they don't want to do this in the future. Reimpose sanctions lifted by President Bush. Put them back on the state sponsor of terrorism list. Put [them] on notice that it's just not a movie [referring to "The Interview", an anti-North Korea film]. It's our way of life. They attacked who we are. And when the president calls this [North Korean cyberattack on the movie's producer Sony] an act of vandalism , that just really bothers me greatly. It is an act of terrorism. And I hope he will respond forcefully.

Q: You're not talking about taking military action against North Korea, are you?

GRAHAM: I'm talking about putting them in a spot in the world where they are diminished beyond where they are today. I'm talking about consulting with China and holding them accountable. This is the first act of cyber-warfare that's really gotten a lot of attention. How the president handles this is very important.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Dec 21, 2014

Without American leadership the world disintegrates rapidly

Q: Has the world really changed, and it's not as simple as the bad guys are in the Soviet bloc and the good guys are in the West?

GRAHAM: What we've learned from these changing times is that without American leadership the world disintegrates pretty rapidly. America is the glue that holds the free world together. When you see us missing or AWOL as President Obama's been, you see fracturing on multiple fronts. Russia is more aggressive, not less. The sanctions clearly are not working. Hamas is demanding open borders. Show me a statement by Hamas leadership that recognizes the right for Israel to resist, then I would consider that request. Passive responses to naked aggression all over the world is our foreign policy. Look what ISIS has been able to do in Syria and Iraq. Without American leadership, the world gets to be a very dangerous place and our allies, like Israel and Ukraine, suffer.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 27, 2014

Sanctions against Putin; arm & train the Ukrainians

Q: You say that "Russia is more aggressive." I think that the White House has argued that they've finally gotten the European allies to agree to stiffen up their sanctions. Is Putin immune to sanctions?

GRAHAM: Well, let's look at it this way. Russia has dismembered the Ukraine, a neighboring nation. It is intimidating its neighbors. Russia has seized territory from the Ukraine. Here's what I fear with this passive response, this lack of decisive action. The Ukraine has asked for weapons to defend itself for months and we're still thinking about it. The Europeans can't lead without America setting the standard. And without American leadership organizing Europe and the world you see people like Putin.

Q: What would you do?

GRAHAM: I would come to Congress and I'd ask for additional sanctions on the entire Russian economy, Putin included. I would come to Congress and ask for money to equip and train the Ukrainian military.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 27, 2014

UN has become more anti- Israeli & anti-Semitic

When it comes to Israel, I would condemn the U.N. human rights report that holds [Israel's] role responsible for the activity here. The U.N. human's right report is a joke. The U.N. has becoming more anti- Israeli, anti-Semitic. I would push back, Congress will do this, Senators Schumer, Menendez and myself, we're going to push back against this report. When it comes to Syria and Iraq, I would come up with a military game plan in coordination with the regional allies to stop ISIS from growing in strength. I would push political reconciliation in Baghdad but I'd come up with a military plan to stop these terrorist organizations from growing in strength before they hit our homeland.
Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 27, 2014

America is the glue that holds the free world together

Secretary Kerry gave the most ridiculous and delusional summary of American foreign policy I could imagine. It scares me that he believes the world is in such good shape. America is the glue that holds the free world together. Leading from behind is not working. The world is adrift. And President Obama has become the king of indecision. His policies are failing across the globe, and they will come here soon.
Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 20, 2014

Create a democratic noose around Putin's Russia

Graham called for action instead of words Sunday in response to Russian armed forces on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. "Obama needs to do something. How about this? Suspend Russia's membership in the G-8 and the G-20 at least for a year, starting right now, and every day they stay in Crimea adds to the suspension," Graham said on CNN's "State of the Union." Graham stopped well short of advocating a military response.

No one knows for sure how much Russian President Vladimir Putin cares about what the US says or does regarding troops in Ukraine, but Putin "does care about missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic," Graham said. Putin "very much cares about democracies on his borders," Graham said, and the US should increase that concern by helping Poland and the Czech Republic, and support Georgia's bid to become a member of NATO. I would like to create a democratic noose around Putin's Russia," said Graham.

Source: Greenville News on 2014 South Carolina Senate race , Mar 3, 2014

Create a democratic noose around Putin's Russia

Q: The US has made it clear that it disapproves of what Russia has done. You've been tweeting about strong statements. What more do you want at this point?

GRAHAM: Putin very much cares about democracy on his borders. I would like to create a democratic noose around Putin's Russia. Let's accelerate Georgia's admission into NATO. Moldavia is under siege by Russia. Let's help Moldavia, Poland and the Czech Republic. We abandoned our missile defense agreements with them to protect Europe from a rogue missile attack coming out of the Mideast. Russia backed Obama down. If I were President Obama, I would reengage Poland and the Czech Republic regarding missile defense. I would admit Georgia to NATO. I would have a larger military presence in the Balkans to NATO members who are threatened by Russia. I would fly the NATO flag as strongly as I could around Putin. I would suspend his membership in the G-8, be the G-7. And every day he stays in the Ukraine, I would add to it.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 2, 2014

Voted YES on cooperating with India as a nuclear power.

Congressional Summary:US-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): Integrating India into a global nonproliferation regime is a positive step. Before anyone gets too sanctimonious about India's nuclear weapons program, we should acknowledge that the five recognized nuclear weapons states have not done nearly enough to fulfill their commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, including making serious reductions in their own arsenals, nor in the case of the US in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. BARBARA LEE (D, CA-9): In withholding my approval, I seek not to penalize the people of India but, rather, to affirm the principle of nuclear nonproliferation. Jettisoning adherence to the international nuclear nonproliferation framework that has served the world so well for more than 30 years, as approval of the agreement before us would do, is just simply unwise. It is also reckless.

Approval of this agreement undermines our efforts to dissuade countries like Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. By approving this agreement, all we are doing is creating incentives for other countries to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Reference: US-India Nuclear Agreement; Bill HR.7081 ; vote number 2008-S211 on Oct 1, 2008

Voted NO on keeping Cuba travel ban until political prisoners released.

Stop enforcing travel restrictions on US citizens to Cuba, only after the president has certified that Cuba has released all political prisoners, and extradited all individuals sought by the US on charges of air piracy, drug trafficking and murder.
Bill HR 2590 ; vote number 2001-270 on Jul 25, 2001

Voted YES on withholding $244M in UN Back Payments until US seat restored.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would require that the United States be restored to its seat on the UN Human Rights Commission before the payment of $244 million in funds already designated to pay UN back dues.
Reference: Amendment sponsored by Hyde, R-IL; Bill HR 1646 ; vote number 2001-107 on May 10, 2001

Voted NO on $156M to IMF for 3rd-world debt reduction.

Vote on an amendment that would transfer $156 million from foreign military financing to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries [HIPC] Trust Fund. The HIPC Trust fund is designed to help debtor countries pay off the money they owe to multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Reference: Amendment sponsored by Waters, D-CA; Bill HR 4811 ; vote number 2000-397 on Jul 13, 2000

Voted NO on Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China.

Vote to give permanent Normal Trade Relations [NTR] status to China. Currently, NTR status for China is debated and voted on annually. The measure contains provisions designed to protect the United States from Chinese import surges and the administration would have to report annually on China's compliance with the trade agreement. The bill establishes a commission to monitor human rights, labor standards and religious freedom in China.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Archer, R-TX; Bill HR 4444 ; vote number 2000-228 on May 24, 2000

Voted NO on $15.2 billion for foreign operations.

Vote on a bill to provide $15.2 billion for foreign operations in FY 2000. Among other provisions, the bill would provide $1.82 billion over three years for implementation of the Wye River peace accord in the Middle East. In addition, the measure would provide $123 million in multilateral debt relief and would contribute $25 million to the United National Population Fund.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Callahan, R-AL; Bill HR 3196 ; vote number 1999-572 on Nov 5, 1999

Rated +1 by AAI, indicating a mixed Arab/Palestine voting record.

Graham scores +1 by AAI on Arab-Israeli issues

The Arab American Institute has compiled a Scorecard to catalogue the voting record of the 112th Congress on issues of importance to the Arab American community. Though not comprehensive, we have attempted to provide a snapshot of legislation concerning many of the primary issues concerning Arab Americans. For the Senate, we have included 10 items: two bills on the Arab Spring, three on Palestine, one on Lebanon, one regarding civil liberties, and two for immigration reform.

  1. S. Res. 44: (+) calls on former President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a democratic political system
  2. S. Res. 109: (+) honoring and supporting women in North Africa and the Middle East
  3. S. Res. 138: (-) calling on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone report, formally known as the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which accused the Israeli government of targeting Palestinian civilians.
  4. S. Res. 185: (-) reaffirming the commitment of the US to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and calling for a US veto of any UN resolution on Palestinian statehood without a settlement.
  5. S. Con. Res. 23: (-) supporting Israel in maintaining defensible borders, and against Israel returning to the armistice lines that existed on June 4, 1967
  6. S. 558: (+) the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, to limit the use of cluster munitions in areas normally inhabited by civilians.
  7. S. 1125: (+) greater judicial review of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and greater protections to individuals being monitored or gag-ordered by the FBI.
  8. S.1038, the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act, in opposition of PATRIOT Act extension.
  9. S. 723: (-) The Birthright Citizenship Act, limiting citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants born in the US.
  10. S. 952: (+) the DREAM Act, allowing undocumented minors to become US citizens, provided they meet certain conditions, including good moral character
Source: AAI website 12-AAI-S on May 2, 2012

Vigorous support for State of Israel against Hamas in Gaza.

Graham co-sponsored Resolution for Israeli Self-Defense

RESOLUTION expressing vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders:

    Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Congress:
  1. expresses unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes and strongly supports its inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism;
  2. reiterates that Hamas must end Gaza-linked terrorist rocket and missile attacks against Israel, recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians;
  3. urges the UN Security Council to condemn the recent spike in Gaza-linked terrorist missile attacks against Israel, which risk causing civilian casualties in both Israel and Gaza; and
  4. encourages the President to continue to work diplomatically with the international community to prevent Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations from retaining or rebuilding the capability to launch rockets and missiles against Israel.
Source: SR599/HR813 12-SRes599 on Nov 16, 2012

Let Ukraine & Georgia enter NATO.

Graham co-sponsored including Ukraine & Georgia in NATO

Congressional Summary: A resolution expressing strong support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to enter into a Membership Action Plan with Georgia and Ukraine:

  1. reaffirming support for enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to include democratic governments that are able to meet the membership responsibilities;
  2. that NATO's expansion contributes to its relevance;
  3. that Georgia and Ukraine are strong allies that have made important progress in the areas of defense and democratic and human rights reform;
  4. that a stronger relationship among Georgia, Ukraine, and NATO will benefit those countries and NATO member states; and
  5. that the United States should take the lead in supporting the awarding of a Membership Action Plan to Georgia and Ukraine.

Legislative Outome: Resolution agreed to in Senate without amendment and with a preamble by Unanimous Consent.

Source: S.RES.439 & H.RES.997 2008-SR439 on Jan 31, 2008

Support Iranian demonstrators against Iranian government.

Graham signed bill supporting demonstrations against Iran

Source: SR.193&HR.549 2009-SR193 on Jun 19, 2009

Pressure friendly Arab states to end Israeli boycott.

Graham signed Schumer-Graham letter to Secy. Rice from 79 Congress members

    Dear Secretary Rice,
    In the past, the lack of sufficient support from [non-participating] Arab states have made it difficult to reach agreements [on the Arab-Israeli conflict]. You should press friendly Arab countries that have not yet done so, to:
  1. Participate in the upcoming international meeting and be a full partner of the US in advancing regional peace
  2. Take visible, meaningful steps in the financial, diplomatic and political arena to help Palestinian President Abbas govern effectively and meet obligations to fight terror
  3. Stop support for terrorist groups and cease all anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement
  4. Recognize Israel's right to exist and not use such recognition as a bargaining chip for future Israeli concessions
  5. End the Arab League economic boycott of Israel in all of its forms
  6. Pressure Hamas to recognize Israel, reject terror, and accept prior agreements, and isolate Hamas until it takes such steps.
Source: Schumer-Graham letter to Secy. Rice from 79 Congress members 2010-LT-AR on Oct 2, 2007

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Page last updated: Jun 15, 2016