Rand Paul Calls Graham's War Talk 'Dangerously Naive'; Graham Says No Peace Without War Threat

By Susan Jones | June 13, 2018 | 10:13am EDT
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un meets President Trump at the Capella hotel in Singapore on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

(CNSNews.com) - "Lindsey Graham is a danger to the country by even proposing ideas like authorizing war with Korea," Sen. Rand Paul tweeted on Monday -- one day after Sen. Graham went on ABC's "This Week" and said the United States should go to war against North Korea if North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un does not agree to eliminate his nuclear weapons program.

The feud between the two Republican Senators continued into Wednesday, when Sen. Paul told Fox News he thinks Graham is "dangerously naive."

"I think in the midst of this historic opening that President Trump has orchestrated, for Lindsey Graham to say he wants to declare a war on North Korea -- terribly naive, wrongheaded, and the wrong way to go."

Host Bill Hemmer asked Sen. Paul what's wrong with keeping the military option on the table as a last resort:

"No, I think what he (Graham) said is that he's preparing an authorization to use force against North Korea," Paul responded. "He's not talking about the implied force that always backs up diplomacy, and I think most people acknowledge that there is implied force behind diplomacy; there's implied weight of the entire U.S. military behind the president, yes. But to explicitly, in the middle of negotiations, say that he wants to declare war on North Korea is terribly naive and counterproductive."

On Tuesday night, Graham told Fox News's Martha McCallum he's actually trying to "prevent" a war with North Korea:

Here's what I believe about North Korea. They wouldn't be talking to Trump unless they believed he was serious about using military force. President Trump has done more in 500 days to deal with North Korea than every president in the last 30 years.

Here's what the choices are for North Korea. Column A is economic incentives, security guarantees, a good life for North Korea and security for the regime. Column B is going to be the destruction of the regime if you don't give up your nuclear weapons program.

President Trump wasn't kidding when he said he would use military force. It is the last option. Contrary to what Senator Paul says, the only way you're going to get North Korea to give up their nuclear weapons program is for them to believe they're better off without it than with it. And that comes down to Trump convincing them that they can no longer go on the path they're going without a fight.

Graham said he spoke to President Trump after Trump's summit with Kim, and Trump told Graham he's going to end the nuclear threat, period:

What really struck me -- he said listen, this has got to come to an end. We can't live with this kind of threat. He's got to give up his nuclear program. I want to make it a win-win. A war would be devastating. I don't want to go down that road.

He felt pretty good about the initial meeting. We've got a long way to go, but what struck me the most is how much the president appreciated how devastating a war would be, but it would be even more devastating to walk away from this nuclear threat. He's going to end it on his watch is what he told me.

Graham said if Kim Jong Un walks away from the fledgling negotiations and fires a missile over Japan, "What do you think Donald Trump would do?"

"Donald Trump would see that as a provocative act against the United States and he would retaliate. What Senator Paul doesn't understand is that you're cutting the legs out from President Trump when you talk about you're not really serious about the military option. I don't want to, it would be devastating, it's the last resort, but if North Korea doesn't believe that we're serious about the military option, you are never going to get a peaceful result."

Sen. Paul on Wednesday called President Trump a "historic figure" who has accomplished something that neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama could have done:

"They would have litigated it to death with attorneys they would have said, oh, no, we can't meet with North Korea's leader and this and that. That's what went on for a decade and that's why we got nowhere. So President Trump being able to think outside the box and being someone willing to do something no one else in the establishment was willing to do, may well bring peace on the Korean peninsula, and I'm very hopeful about that."

The disagreement between Graham and Paul began on Sunday, when Graham told ABC's "This Week":

“So, here’s the question for my Democratic colleagues: If diplomacy fails, will you support my efforts to authorize the use of military force as a last resort to convince North Korea and China things are going to be different this time,” said Graham. “A bipartisan AUMF would really make that letter much more credible. And if diplomacy fails, as a last resort, Democrats and Republicans need to put the military option on the table or we will never get a good deal.”

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