Graham Laments State of Foreign Policy Debate

Posted September 20, 2010 at 2:22pm

Sen. Lindsey Graham accused Republicans, Democrats and tea party activists alike on Monday of being more interested in scoring political points than discussing pressing national security and war issues.

Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, the South Carolina Republican quipped, “I thought we’d talk about national security, because nobody else is.” He noted that foreign policy has played a key role in previous election cycles, but few, if any, candidates are touching the topic this year.

“We’re within days of a major shift in power, and you’d never know we were involved in two wars and facing looming threats,” Graham said.

He said the tea party movement has been instrumental in forcing fiscal policies to the forefront of the elections, but at the expense of international affairs. “When we talk about foreign policy, I don’t hear much coming out of either party or the tea party. … Congress has been AWOL, Democrats are scared to death to talk about this, and most Republicans just demagogue.”

Even on issues like the defense authorization bill, when terrorism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should be discussed, domestic political issues dominate the debate.

“Tomorrow at 2:15, we’re going to vote on the defense authorization bill. And the issues that we’re talking about are whether or not we should expand abortion services at military hospitals, whether or not we should repeal the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, and whether or not we should put the DREAM Act, giving young illegal immigrants legal status, on the defense bill,” Graham said.

“If you follow the debate on the floor of the United States Senate tomorrow on the defense authorization bill, you would believe the biggest national security threat facing America is what to do about gays in the military, the DREAM Act and abortion. Very sad. Very unacceptable,” he said.

Graham said he hopes Democrats and Republicans will resume serious work on foreign policy and national security issues after the election. He outlined a series of policy measures he will look to pursue, including a national security exemption from Miranda warning rules, new rules on interrogation techniques and a strategy for addressing corruption in Afghanistan.