South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called for U.S. troops to secure weapons of mass destruction sites in Syria on Tuesday, the eve of the tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion he supported. The Syrian government and the rebels accused each other on Tuesday of using a chemical weapon in Aleppo, but those reports are unconfirmed, CBS News reports. Graham doesn't care that it's unconfirmed. In an interview with Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin, Graham said:
"My biggest fear beyond an Iranian nuclear weapons capability is the chemical weapons in Syria falling in the hands of extremists and Americans need to lead on this issue. We need to come up with a plan to secure these weapons sites, either in conjunction with our partners [or] if nothing else by ourselves..."
"Absolutely, you've got to get on the ground. There is no substitute for securing these weapons... I don't care what it takes. We need partners in the region.
But I'm here to say, if the choice is to send in troops to secure the weapons sites versus allowing chemical weapons to get in the hands of some of the most violent people in the world, I vote to cut this off before it becomes a problem."
Graham could take the anniversary of a war he championed as a moment to reflect that it's possible that was a false choice. "The president's decision to bring an end to the drama regarding Saddam Hussein was the correct decision," Graham in an article in The Rock Hill Herald, published exactly 10 years ago. "I believe we will be very successful to have regime change and to have control of weapons of mass destruction." The military option was the only choice, he said earlier that week. "I have always believed that 500 or 5,000 U.N. inspectors cannot make Saddam Hussein part with his weapons of mass destruction unless he voluntarily chooses to do so... The president, in my opinion, is taking the only reasonable course available to him to protect this country."
Graham should remember his own words of caution back then: "Then rebuilding of the Iraqi government would be the next major event after the war is over."