The field of Republican presidential contenders does not want for hawks. Marco Rubio is already talking about attacking Iran. Jeb Bush has stacked his foreign policy team with his brother’s neoconservative advisers, including Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz. Scott Walker wants to be “a leader that is willing to take a fight to them before they take the fight to us.” Even Rand Paul has proposed to increase defense spending. (As for the other side, Hillary Clinton has plenty of questions to answer about her support for military intervention.)
Now the flock is about to get a candidate to out-hawk all the others: South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who is expected to announce his bid for the White House on June 1. “I’m running because I think the world is falling apart; I’ve been more right than wrong on foreign policy,” he said Monday on CBS This Morning.
Graham’s foreign policy is essentially a philosophy that force can solve most problems. He pushed aggressively for the invasion of Iraq, for putting boots on the ground in Libya, and for military intervention in Syria. Graham isn’t unique for trying to peddle violence—it’s the fear he uses to market military action that makes him stand out. From his claims that Saddam Hussein was “flat-out lying” about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that “chemical weapons in Syria today means nuclear weapons in the US tomorrow,” to his assertion that ISIS “will open the gates of hell to spill out on the world,” Graham’s track record is a long, terrifying trail of hyperbole.
What’s should really frighten people is Graham’s own extremism, and his eagerness to throw the constitution out the window in the name of national security. Here are a few examples:
1. His support for the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process is selective: “If I’m President of the United States and you’re thinkin’ about joining al-Qaeda or ISIL—anybody thinkin’ about that?—I’m not going to call a judge, I’m going to call a drone, and we will kill you,” he said at the Iowa Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser on Saturday.
2. His support for the First Amendment is selective, too. “Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war,” he said in 2011, regarding the burning of the Quran by Tennessee pastor Terry Jones.
3. He’s not big on the Sixth Amendment, either. During a Senate debate in 2011 about indefinite detention for citizens suspected of joining Al Qaeda he said, “When they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them: ‘Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer. You are an enemy combatant, and we are going to talk to you about why you joined Al Qaeda.’”