Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., talks to reporters July 8 after a closed meeting on Iraq and Afghanistan on Capitol Hill. (Jim Watson / Getty Images)
CHICAGO — As the Obama administration weighs further action against the Islamic State, one of the top defense voices on the Hill is sending clear signals he expects action soon.
“To the terrorists organizations who wish us harm, we’re about to come after you again, all over, and we’re gonna beat you, yet again,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said during an Aug. 23 speech at the National Guard Association of the United States annual conference in Chicago.
“You can’t be war weary at a time when those that wish to destroy your life are just getting started,” he said later in his speech. “We may be tired of fighting them but they’re not tired of fighting us. But let me tell you how this movie ends: they lose, we win.”
The use of the phrase “all over” is notable, as speculation abounds about potential military actions in Syria to help combat the movement of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, following the execution of American journalist James Foley.
When asked during an Aug. 21 press event whether the Pentagon is considering military strikes in Syria, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said “we’re looking at all options.”
Later during that event, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added fuel to the idea that action in Syria is forthcoming.
“Can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria,” he asked rhetorically. “The answer is no.”
In Chicago, Graham’s phrasing reflected echoes of the Bush administration’s run up to war in Afghanistan and Iraq following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 2001.
“America is an idea and the reason they hate us so much is they hate our idea,” he said. “Everything we believe in, they hate.”
“I hope we don’t get hit again, but the conditions are right for another attack on this country,” Graham later added. “The only way we can defend this nation against radical Islam, in my opinion, is to keep the fight over there so it doesn’t come over here.”
The senior senator from South Carolina acknowledged that many in the crowd had already seen their fair share of battle, and thanked the 4,000 attendees to the conference for their duty.
He also pledged that Congress would work to roll back the sequester-related budget cuts that threaten many military programs in 2015. Republican leadership has hinted that giving them control of the House and Senate would end some of the gridlock in DC.
“In 2015, the Congress is going to get its act together,” Graham pledged. “Republicans and Democrats have got to take their heads out of the sand and with your help we’re gonna renew a military at the time we need it the most.”
“With your help we’re growing to grow the military so any enemy of this nation will have to think twice, and those who are ready to die for their cause, we’re gonna take them up on it.”