Graham to Trump: 'When It Comes to Syria, Do Not Read the Obama Playbook'

April 2, 2018

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) on Sunday told President Donald Trump not to "read the Obama playbook" and withdraw U.S. forces and recovery efforts from Syria, warning that such moves would allow the Islamic State to return and strengthen Iran's hold over the country.

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked Graham about Trump's recent statement that the U.S. would pull out of Syria "very soon" and his decision to freeze $200 million meant for recovery efforts in the war-torn country.

There are currently about 2,000 U.S. soldiers in Syria, according to the Pentagon.

"Is President Trump making a mistake talking about getting out of Syria while ISIS is still alive, obviously diminished but still in the field, and while Iran is still pushing and some could say helping the Assad regime win the civil war?" Wallace asked.

"Well, Mr. President, when it comes to Russia, read the Ronald Reagan playbook," Graham said. "When it comes to Syria, do not read the Obama playbook. This is the Obama playbook: one foot in, one foot out. This is a disaster in the making."

Graham noted that military officials have advised Trump to leave some U.S. forces in Syria to work with the Kurds there, help "calm down" the ongoing conflict between them and Turkey, and continue the fight against ISIS.

"There are over 3,000 ISIS fighters still roaming around Syria. We've got troops there to protect us and to protect the region," the senator added. "If we withdrew our troops anytime soon, ISIS would come back, the war between Turkey and the Kurds would get out of hand, and you'd be giving Damascus to the Iranians without an American presence. And Russia and Iran would dominate Syria."

"It'd be the single worst decision the president could make," Graham said of Trump potentially withdrawing from Syria, comparing it to President Barack Obama pulling out of Iraq in 2011 and opting not to intervene in the Syrian conflict.