Sen. Lindsey Graham: Bomb Iran; Sen. Rand Paul: Don't!

By Susan Jones | September 16, 2019 | 6:38am EDT
Sen. Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, talks with reporters on Capitol Hill. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

( - Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is suggesting an attack on Iran's oil refineries to "break the regime's back." But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says "there's no reason the superpower of the United States needs to be getting into bombing mainland Iran."

Both men aired their opinions after a drone attack on Saudi oil fields wiped out half of the kingdom's oil production on Saturday.

Houthi rebels aligned with Iran took credit for the attack, but the Trump administration and others are putting the blame squarely on Iran. The bomb-laden drones pierced Saudi defenses that would have detected traditional bombers.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted on Saturday, "It is now time for the U.S. to put on the table an attack on Iranian oil refineries if they continue their provocations or increase nuclear enrichment."

"Iran will not stop their misbehavior until the consequences become more real, like attacking their refineries, which will break the regime’s back."

But Sen. Rand Paul took the opposite view:

"I think an escalation of the war would be a big mistake," Paul told CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper.

This all comes from the Yemeni civil war, where Saudi Arabia is heavily involved in another country, indiscriminately bombing civilians, killing children. And the Houthis are supported by the Iranians. So it's back and forth.

But, really, the answer is trying to have a negotiated cease-fire and peace in Yemen. And bombing Iran won't do that.

The other thing I would say is, Iran's military spending is about $17 billion. Saudi Arabia spends about $83 billion. The Gulf sheikdoms around Saudi Arabia that ally with Saudi Arabia spend another $50-some-odd billion.

So, really, the Saudis and their allies dwarf the spending of Iran. And this is a regional conflict, that there's no reason the superpower of the United States needs to be getting into bombing mainland Iran.

It would be a needless escalation of this. And those who loved the Iraq War, the Cheneys, the Boltons, the Kristols, they all are clamoring and champing at the bit for another war in Iran.

But it's not a walk in the park. And you have to tell that to the 4,000 or so soldiers who died in Iraq, that, you know, are we going to send more to their deaths in Iran for something that, in the end, when you topple these regimes, you get more chaos and more terrorism, not less?

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told NBC's "Meet the Press" that it's clear the Iranians attacked the Saudis.

She called it a "very significant escalation," and she recommended several steps in response:

First of all, I would say we should deny the visas for the Iranian delegates who are planning to come into the United States, come to New York next week for the UN General Assembly.

Secondly, I think, as her first step as our new U.N. Ambassador, Kelly Craft, who's a terrific new U.N. ambassador, ought to offer a resolution for snapback sanctions to say, listen, it's very clear the Iranians, because of a number of things we've seen recently, including the secret warehouse that the Israelis found and revealed, where it's clear that they have now begun and continued their enrichment activities, expanded their enrichment activities. They're operating in total violation of the Iranian Nuclear Deal. And we ought to have those sanctions snapped back.

I think that, you know, when you have entities like the Iranians, like the Taliban, who continue to attack American interests, as the Iranians are doing, who continue to kill Americans, as we've seen in the case of both the IRGC, as well as the Taliban and their ally Al Qaeda, it's very important for us to send the message: you have to choose. You can either do diplomacy, or you can attack America and attack our interests.

But we know you're not serious about diplomacy if you continue to have the kinds of attacks we've seen over the last few days.

Cheney said it would be a mistake for the Trump administration to talk to the Iranians right now.

"I think that we've got a maximum pressure campaign on the Iranians that this administration has put in place that is absolutely working. And that what we ought to be about, right now, is making sure the Iranians understand that they're isolated -- that the world community will not abide by this kind of activity."

Cheney believes the Trump-imposed sanctions on Iran are working: "They're hurting. They're feeling it. The people of Iran, you're seeing, increasingly, the people of Iran saying, listen, we don't want part of this. We don't want to be a pariah state.

"And the Iranians ought to understand and recognize, we're not going to abide an Iranian nuclear weapon. We're not going to allow that to happen. And they need to come back to the table to negotiate,” Cheney said.

"These sanctions will continue to be strengthened. They'll continue to feel increasing pressure, until they do that. But we're not in the business of doing what Barack Obama did, where he sent palettes full of cash, for example, to the Iranians to bribe them to come to the negotiating table."


MRC Store