Lindsey Graham Reverses Course on Trump's Syria Move, 'Increasingly Optimistic' It Could Work


GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina appears to have made a 180-degree turn and now supports President Donald Trump’s handling of the invasion of Syria by Turkey.

“I am increasingly optimistic that we can have some historic solutions in Syria that have eluded us for years, if we play our cards right,” Graham told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday.

“I blame [Turkish President Recep] Erdogan for the invasion, not Trump,” the Foreign Relations Committee member added.

Graham had been very critical of Trump’s decision to pull a small contingent of U.S. forces from Syria’s northeast border in advance of an incursion into the country by Turkish forces.

The senator had accused the president of abandoning the United States’ Kurdish allies, who contributed greatly to the defeat of the Islamic State’s group.

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Graham said Trump addressed his concerns during a conversation on Saturday.

“The president appreciates what the Kurds have done,” Graham told Bartiromo. “He wants to make sure ISIS doesn’t come back. I expect we will continue to partner with the Kurds into eastern Syria to make sure ISIS doesn’t re-emerge. That is in our national security interests, and we owe it to the Kurds.”

The lawmaker praised Trump’s strategic thinking regarding oil fields in eastern Syria.

“The big thing for me is the oil fields,” Graham said. “President Trump is thinking outside the box. I was so impressed with his thinking about the oil.

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“Not only are we going to deny the oil fields falling into Iranian hands, I believe we’re on the verge of a joint venture between us and the Syrian Democratic Forces, who helped destroy ISIS and keep them destroyed, to modernize the oil fields and make sure they get the revenue, not the Iranians, not Assad. It can help pay for our small commitment in the future.”

The South Carolinian emphasized, “I’m increasingly optimistic this could turn out very well.”

Bartiromo could not help noting that everything Graham was saying to her was completely different from the sentiments he was expressing in recent weeks.

He conceded he did have a change of heart after learning Trump did not intend to abandon the Kurds and that captured Islamic State group fighters would remain in captivity.

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Graham’s rhetoric regarding the matter began to change after Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Thursday that Turkey had agreed to a ceasefire.

The senator tweeted later that day, “Sounds like we may have made real progress regarding a cease-fire and hopefully a sustainable solution that will prevent the reemergence of ISIS and the abandonment of our ally, the Kurds.”

Graham joined with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in calling for harsh economic sanctions to be leveled against Turkey.

Trump also threatened sanctions and started with doubling the tariff on steel imported from Turkey.

He communicated to Erdogan that he would “destroy” Turkish economy if the country engaged in war crimes against the Kurds or went beyond its stated objective of securing its border region.

Graham told Bartiromo that while Graham said he finds Trump to be a “handful,” overall he said he is more focused on results.

“I’ve gotten to know him, and I find him to be a handful. I find him to be an equal-opportunity-abuser of people,” Graham said. “But, at the end of the day, he can be very charming and be very gracious. And I am judging him by his conduct. If I spent all day analyzing every tweet he issued, I’d go nuts.”

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 2,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith