Senator Lindsay Graham takes a while to get this point, but Joe Scarborough gives him an opening at about the 2:45 mark. Later, Graham gives Barack Obama a large amount of credit for “upping” the drone game during his presidency, but Graham blasts Obama and the State Department for the “light footprint” foreign policy and security policy in the Arab Spring:
Politico sees this criticism as the big takeaway of the interview:
Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday the Benghazi attack shows a “light footprint” approach to handling the reverberations of the Arab Spring isn’t working.
“It’s, I think, a foreign policy gone wrong here,” the South Carolina Republican said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” hours before a congressional hearing on the administration’s handling of the attacks on the U.S. facility in Benghazi. “Syria, Libya, Egypt, I think the greater story is that the light footprint approach to the Mideast in a time of turmoil is not working.”
They also note Graham’s citation of Obama’s claim that the Benghazi attack was a demonstration gone out of control days after it was clear that this was entirely false:
“On the 18th of September when the president went on Letterman and said this was the result of a hateful video a week after the attack, I think the president needs to explain that statement,” Graham said. “Either he’s really detached or putting a political spin on it and that’s really important.”
Graham similarly said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should explain why she told victims’ family members the maker of the video would be prosecuted. He said the hearing would show that the administration should’ve identified the attack as terrorist-related from the start and could’ve prevented the attack by deploying military assets.
This is what has Democrats on the House Oversight Committee worried, which is why they’re attacking the hearing today as a partisan exercise. But let’s stick with the light-footprint criticism, because it’s rather amazing coming from Graham, whose close ally in the Senate is arguing for another light-footprint intervention in Syria, as Andy McCarthy points out today at The Corner:
Where to begin? Maybe with Senator McCain’s own history of choosing “the right people.” In late 2009, McCain was champioining increased U.S. aid for the Qaddafi regime in Libya, which was said to be an important U.S. counterterrorism ally because of the intel Qaddafi was providing about Libyan jihadists. Droves of these jihadists trekked to Iraq — often from Benghazi, the hub of Islamic supremacism in Libya – to participate in the terrorist war against U.S. troops. Less than a year and a half later, though, Qaddafi was no longer “the right people.” McCain began railing that the Libyan regime we had, at his urging, been supporting now needed to be overthown, and that to accomplish this we should be arming the new “right people” — the “rebels” based in Benghazi. No secret was made in Benghazi of the anti-Qaddafi forces’ jihadist backbone: al Qaeda figures were rebel leaders and the terror network’s tell-tale black flag was flown all over the place “in broad daylight on the main boulevards,” as John Rosenthal puts it in his excellent new book, The Jihadist Plot: The Untold Story of Al-Qaeda and the Libyan Rebellion. These are the forces that McCain memorably called, “my heroes.”
Thanks to the unauthorized U.S./NATO war that McCain demanded and Obama obligingly instigated against an erstwhile U.S. ally, jihadists in Libya and across North Africa have been able to raid Qaddafi’s arsenals and arm themselves. Moreover, to demonstrate their gratitude for American and Western assistance in their jihad, the “rebels” of Benghazi attempted to bomb the State Department’s mysterious “special mission compound” (“SMC” — commonly but inaccurately called “the consulate”) in April 2012; then bombed the motorcade of the UN’s Special Envoy to Libya; then bombed the Red Cross (anything brandishing a cross is fair game in Benghazi); then attacked the British ambassador’s convoy (like us, the Brits were foolish to have a facility in Benghazi, but after this attack, they had the good sense to leave); then, in June 2012, detonated a Boston Marathon-style improvised explosive device at the State Department SMC; and finally, on September 11, launched a coordinated terrorist attack on the SMC, killing U.S. ambassador Chistopher Stevens and three other Americans — Sean Smith, Ty Woods and Glen Doherty. …
When it comes to Islamic countries, McCain has a considerable history of utter confusion about who the “right people” are, of choosing the wrong people, and of pretending the wrong people are the right people after our government has damned foolishly followed his advice. Do Republicans really want to keep taking their cues from a guy who wants to “set up a Benghazi in Syria”?