U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on his vote against the Paul Amendment. The amendment failed 10-81.
"The Paul Amendment was so poorly drafted it could cut off funding to close American allies like Israel. Under the Paul Amendment, if Hamas -- a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel -- were to "attack, trespass, or breach' the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, the United States would be forced to cut off assistance to Israel.
"Al-Qaeda and like-minded radical Islamist groups would love nothing more than for the United States to withdraw from the region and world at large. No matter how well-meaning Senator Paul's amendment may be, now is not the time to give radical Islam a big victory. Therefore, I could not support the Paul Amendment.
"In many ways the Mideast is on fire and the flames are being stoked by radical Islamists who understand they cannot achieve their goals unless they drive the United States out of the region. These radical Islamists, along with their close Al Qaeda associates, are desperately trying to cut off the oxygen supply to many of the new Mideast governments which have been formed through democratic elections."
"Finally, there was no consultation with the Director of the CIA, General David Petraeus, about what passage of this amendment would mean. I have been informed by the intelligence community that now is the worst possible time to disengage. While cutting off foreign assistance may make for good short-term politics, it creates dangerous long-term national security concerns.
"Since 9/11 we have been well-served by taking the fight to the enemy in their own backyard. The terrorists would love for us to disengage from the region so they could regain a lost foothold. If we disengage, I'm convinced the fight would once again move to our back yard.
"Our aid to the Egyptian and Pakistani military and Libyan government provides leverage and influence at a time when we need it the most. I will do everything in my power to keep the fight in the terrorist's backyard. That requires us staying involved in a constructive way, not just by the use of military force."
Status of Nations and U.S. Aid Cited in the Paul Amendment
Pakistan is a nuclear-armed nation which must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the radical Islamic extremists. Under current law, United States aid to Pakistan is contingent on their cooperation on security issues. Senator Graham has expressed support for recent agreements with Pakistan that reopen the supply route to American troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
Egypt is the heart of the Arab World and is struggling to find its footing after years of dictatorship. Senator Graham was the author of American law which put conditions on continued Egyptian aid. Under the Graham provision, if Egypt breaks their treaty with Israel, American aid will stop. Likewise, if democratic institutions in Egypt are shut down, American aid will stop.
Libya: The assassination of the American Ambassador to Libya and other Americans was a terrorist attack plotted and executed by radical Islamists. The attack does not represent the views of the beliefs of the Libyan populace. In recent elections, the radical Islamists only received about 10 percent of the vote. Withdrawal of American aid would only embolden and empower the radical Islamists who hate democracy, tolerance and modern thought.