NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Sen. Lindsey Graham warned a delegates attending the CPAC convention on Thursday that “everything will be at risk” if Iran develops a nuclear weapon and maintained that the nation should back Israel to the hilt if it decides to make a pre-emptive strike on Tehran.
“What keeps me up at night is waking up to find that they tested a nuclear device in Iran,” Graham (R-S.C.) told a crowded hall, adding that if the regime succeeds in its quest for a nuclear device, “then you are on the road to Armageddon.”
“Isn’t it really the biggest goal of our time to defeat these people, to say no to this radical ideology?” Graham asked.
Graham, one of the upper chamber’s top defense hawks, was on a panel discussing the nation’s security with, among others, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who concurred with much of Graham’s assessment, asserting that “this is the most perilous time in the history of our nation.”
McKeon noted that recent budget cuts are hindering the nation’s military readiness.
“We’re doing a lot of it (budget cutting) on the backs of our military and we should not allow that to happen,” he said.
But it was Graham who painted the darkest picture. In the past, he said, other nuclear nations competing with the U.S. – such as the old Soviet Union – were kept in check out of concern for mutually shared destruction. That concern about annihilation “won’t work with these guys,” he said.
“They don’t care,” he said, noting that a successful development will be used to ensure the survival of the current regime.
The U.S. is endangered, he said, if Iran devises a weapon of mass destruction that winds up in the hands of terrorists who “one day come to our shores.”
America’s biggest asset, he said, is Israel, which is separated from Iran by Jordan and Iraq.
“They’re going down swinging,” Graham said. “When they said, ‘Never again,’ they meant it.”
Graham said he has offered a resolution providing Israel with military and economic support if it decides to confront Iran. At the same time he criticized the Obama administration for what he views as a weak response to the Iran threat, despite repeated White House promises to back up Israel.
“On foreign policy, I’ve never seen our friends so afraid and our enemies more bold,” Graham said, adding that while the president “talks tough” the words “must be matched by our actions.”
“If they (Iran) believe there’s the possibility of an all-out assault by the American military, that’s the only way they’re going to change,” Graham said.
Israel has “limited military capabilities” despite fielding a fine force, Graham said. The knowledge that the U.S. would use military force “would take some pressure off Israel.”
“I certainly can’t think of a more critical time in our nation’s history,” Graham said. “There is no accommodating radicalism.”