Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday dug into the timing of President Biden’s response to last week’s deadly drone strikes, arguing the U.S. gave Iraq and Syria a “weeks notice,” that only served to kill “some dumbass,” who did not know the counter-attack was coming.
“If the goal is to deter Iran, you’re failing miserably. If the goal is to protect American troops, you’re not achieving your goal,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If you’ve convinced Iran you don’t want a wider war, they believe you. ‘Oh, I don’t want a war with you,’ they got the message…they’re not afraid of us. They were afraid of [former President] Trump.”
The Biden administration came under scrutiny from some GOP lawmakers who said the U.S. response to last week’s drone strike was not swift enough.
The U.S. military began its first round of airstrikes on Iranian-backed groups in Syria and Iraq last Friday in response to an attack on a base in Jordan last week that killed three American troops and injured about 40 others.
The strike immediately ramped up pressure on Biden to take decisive action against the groups, which the White House maintained all week it would do at a time of their choosing.
“We need to change our policy,” Graham said. “People are not afraid of us. This idea of hitting hundreds of targets…that doesn’t matter. The only Iranian we killed in Syria or Iraq…is some dumbass that doesn’t know to get out of the way.”
“We gave them a weeks notice, so if there’s another round of strikes coming, I hope they really will hurt Iran in their pocketbook or their leadership because if you don’t, nothing changes,” he added.
White House National Security adviser Jake Sullivan defended the Biden administration’s response in a Sunday interview with NBC News’s “Meet the Press.”
“The president made clear before we were attacked at Tower 22 in Jordan, before our brave services members were tragically killed, that if we were attacked, we would respond,” Sullivan said Sunday in response to criticism from House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) “So, Iran and its military groups knew that the United States was going to respond. We also said we’d do it at a time and place of our choosing. We planned the attack. We executed the attack.”
The Pentagon last Friday said more than 85 targets were hit in the first round of strikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force “and affiliated militia groups.”
Sullivan noted U.S. forces are still evacuating the casualty numbers among the militia groups and noted U.S. officials believe the strikes had “good effect and degrading capability” to the militant groups.
Graham on Sunday pointed to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, and contended the U.S.’s national security “is in free fall.”
He argued the U.S. needs to hit something the Ayatollah “values,” including his leadership team or oil business.
“If we hit their oil business, we don’t need manned aircraft. They’ve got four refineries you can see from space. If you knock one of them out, that would stop this,” Graham said.
U.S. officials said last week U.S. troops have come under fire from various Iranian-backed groups over 160 times since last October when the Israel-Hamas war began.