Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday took perhaps the most aggressive Washington stance on the country’s simultaneous effort to defeat ISIS and solve the Syrian crisis -- calling for more U.S. troops in the terror fight and suggesting President Trump already has broad authority to order missile strikes on Syria.
The South Carolina Republican and military hawk is calling for as many as 6,000 more U.S. troops to help defeat the Islamic State terror group in the Middle East.
“You need more American troops to accelerate (ISIS’) demise,” Graham told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “You train the opposition to go after [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. That's how he's taken out by his own people, with our efforts.”
Thousands of U.S. troops are already in Syria and Iraq to help regional forces in the fight to defeat ISIS.
Graham also argued Sunday that the United States is “relying too much” on the Kurds in that region to defeat ISIS and that additional U.S. troops would attract more regional fighters in that effort.
Graham spoke several days after Trump unilaterally ordered a missile attack on a Syrian airbase in response to Assad’s deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians and as the Trump administration tried to explain its foreign policy.
National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster told “Fox News Sunday” that the president is taking “simultaneous action” in defeating ISIS and ending the 6-year-long civil war in Syria to oust the Assad regime, which has caused a humanitarian crisis.
Graham also suggested that Trump has the authority, without authorization from Congress, to send in additional troops and hit Assad again for using chemical weapons.
“He already has that authority,” said Graham, who acknowledged that his position doesn’t have widespread Washington consensus. “I think the president has authorization to use force. Assad signed the chemical weapons treaty ban. There's an agreement with him not to use chemical weapons.”