'Superhawk' Graham joins US race to save the world
The already cacophonous contest for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination promises to get rowdier still, after Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the party's most outspoken foreign policy hawks, said he would be entering the race.
Mr Graham, who has been a trenchant critic of Barack Obama's withdrawal from the Middle East, said he was running because "the world is falling apart" and he backed himself to be a good commander-in-chief.
"I'm running because of what you see on television, I'm running because I think the world is falling apart. I've been more right than wrong on foreign policy," he told CBS News yesterday, promising a formal declaration in his home state of South Carolina on June 1.
Following the fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) over the weekend, Mr Graham called for 10,000 US troops to be redeployed to Iraq and Syria to train an effective Iraqi national army and help defeat the insurgency.
"We withdrew our forces too soon, the Iraqi security forces have melted down and Isis [Isil] has a foothold throughout the Middle East," he said, criticising Mr Obama's administration's failure to leave a residual US force in Iraq after 2011.
Although US public opinion remains firmly against sending US troops back to Iraq, Mr Graham maintains it is a necessary evil to prevent another September 11-style attack.
"I'm worried about an attack on our homeland. Here's the question for us: should one more American soldier die in the service of Iraq, or maybe going in to Syria?
"My answer is that I'm afraid that more Americans soldiers will die in Iraq and eventually Syria to protect our homeland," he added.
Although Mr Graham (59), has no realistic prospect of winning the nomination from a crowded field of more than 20 contenders, he will add a colourful and hawkish voice to the party's internal debate over foreign policy.
In recent weeks, Republican divisions over foreign policy have been laid bare as the party tries to reconcile its instinctive belief in a strong, indispensable America with the costly failure - in terms of both blood and treasure - of George W Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The party remains deeply divided, with the spectrum running from neo-isolationists like Rand Paul - the libertarian senator from Kentucky, who has been sharply critical of interventions in Iraq and Libya - to more traditional interventionists like Marco Rubio, the young senator from Florida.
Jeb Bush, the younger brother of George W Bush, has yet to distinguish his own position, fumbling questions over whether he would have ordered the invasion of Iraq had "he known what we know now". Mr Bush, a fundraising front-runner, has hired many of his brother's former foreign policy advisers, but since he has served only as a former governor of Florida, has no foreign policy voting record to be judged on.
Mr Graham suffers from no such lack of clarity. "This is a complete mess," he said of the situation in Iraq and Syria. "And does it matter to us? 'Yes', because the most likely place for America to get attacked from, I think, is Syria." (© Daily Telegraph, London)