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Shared Sacrifice in Resolving the Budget Deficit-Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRAHAM. Well, I thank the Senator. I will give my thoughts as briefly as I can. My first thought is that we live in incredibly dangerous times--exciting and dangerous. What is the Arab spring about? What are people asking for in Libya? They are asking to replace Qadhafi and form a new government where they will have a say. I do not think that is too much to ask.

All I can say is that America's freedom is best secured when she, America, is assisting others to obtain theirs. And the one thing history tells us, free people settle their differences without resorting to the evils of war. So to those in this body and throughout the country--I know we are broke. We are here today to supposedly talk about the budget. Well, we are not doing anything but talking. We are $14.3 trillion in debt. There are all kinds of ideas between Republicans and Democrats about how to get the country's fiscal house in order. It is July 5. We are here looking at each other doing nothing. But there is another part of the world, as the Senate and the House basically talk about America being in debt, where people are dying, as I speak, trying to change their government for the better.

What should we do? I will tell you what we should do. We should help where we can. Senator McCain has experienced war unlike very few people in this body. He knows when we go to war bad things happen to good people. The idea that he or myself or anybody else relishes trying to go to war or being in war is offensive, quite frankly. He knows better than I, and I have a pretty good understanding of what happens when we go to war.

But here is what happens when we do not go to war sometimes: Bad people are able to do incredible things that we wind up having to confront later, and it costs everybody more to have waited.

So what are we doing in Libya? We are following rather than leading. Now, to Senator McCain's question. NATO's bombing activities are being done without American air power. We spend more money than all NATO nations combined on defense. I know a lot of Americans do not like that. I do not like it either, but it is the way it is. We are the arsenal of democracy.

When America does not fly, wars go on longer, more people get raped, more people get killed. Let me tell you, if Qadhafi survives this is the end of NATO.

If you do not want America to go alone in this dangerous world, count me in. But who are we going to partner with? If the U.N. is seen by the American people as an unreliable group to deal with dictators--and it is--what if NATO is no longer an organization that people throughout the world respect on the side of good, and the evil side of the ledger does not care if NATO gets involved because they do not have the will to do anything about it?

So we should be involved with our NATO partners. Our NATO partners depend on Libya more than we do. They came to Afghanistan not because they were attacked but because we were attacked. They are our friends. They are our allies. They have been with us trying to make sure Afghanistan never goes back into the darkness, a place that attacked us or them again.

So when they need us, I will tell President Obama: Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines. I know we are a war-weary Nation, but there is no upside to Qadhafi staying in power. That is a national security nightmare for this country.

Here is a recent headline: Qadhafi threatens to attack Europe over airstrikes. Colonel Qadhafi has threatened to carry out attacks against homes, offices, families in Europe unless NATO stops its campaign of air strikes against his regime in Libya. He actually means it. Hitler meant it. He means it.

So we should be talking about the debt; we are not. We should be taking a stand against Qadhafi in an effective way. As Senator McCain said, we are leading from behind. I just cannot tell you how upset I am with policies coming from this administration that are sending the signal to our allies that we are not as reliable as we should be, and to our enemies that we do not have the same amount of will to protect our freedom as they do to take it away from us.

Mr. McCAIN. I would ask my friend, is it not true that we are providing tanker support, logistics support, Predator strikes, intelligence, and all kinds of assets to those eight nations that are involved in the fight? When we are using Predators and killing people, that pretty well fits the definition of ``hostilities.'' Yet, for reasons which are still not clear to me, the administration fails to acknowledge that.

Could I also say one thing that is very concerning as well is this recognition of the Transitional National Council. I know my colleague--because we were just in Turkey--noticed that another country, Turkey, one of the most important nations in the Middle East, just recognized the Transitional National Council, froze the assets that Qadhafi has. Yet this administration refuses to do so. There is some $30 billion, I am told, of Qadhafi assets that we could freeze and make available to the Transitional National Council. It may require some legislative action, but it requires administration leadership. They could then pay people, could provide arms and weapons to their own people, as well as subsidies for the government.

Again, an example of leading from behind--the French, the Italians, the Turks, and other nations have all now recognized the Transitional National Council. Yet the United States has failed to do so.

Mr. GRAHAM. If I could try to answer the hostility question. When we are using Predator drones to bring down military targets, that, to me, is an acceptable situation in Libya. I do not want ground troops in Libya. The people in Libya do not want a ground invasion by NATO forces. They want our help. And what do we have to offer better than anybody in the world? Intelligence gathering. These platforms that are gathering information about targets are unique to America.

The target packages that are being put together are being done mostly by Americans, and we are turning these target packages over to NATO countries. Some of the aircraft that are flying--and God bless our allies for taking this risk--are 30 years old. No one has the ability like the American Air Force and naval forces to carry on aerial campaigns.

But some people in this body have a right to have their say like we do. We should be debating this, but the administration's position that a Predator drone attack is not a hostile act is dangerous because in Yemen, the administration, with my full support, is taking the fight to Yemen today. They are using Predator drone attacks against al-Qaida groups in Yemen. We just had special forces involved in killing al-Qaida operatives in Somalia. We have to be on the offensive. We need to be hitting these people over there before they can reorganize and hit us here.

So I support the administration's ability and constitutional right to take the fight to the enemy. But for them to tell the body these are not hostile acts is the ultimate confusion. It is confusing to the enemy; it is confusing to our allies; it is confusing to the American people. I reject this definition being

offered by this administration that using Predator drones to attack targets is not a hostile act.

I believe the War Powers Act is unconstitutional. There are two things we can do in this body as a Member of Congress: We can declare war and we can cut off funding when we do not like things the way they are going. We very seldom declare war in this Nation from a congressional point of view for a reason. But we have constantly engaged forces that wish to attack us and our allies without declarations of war. If you do not like what we are doing in Libya, cut off funding. Do not try to micromanage the war through congressional fiat.

So $30 billion is available to the Libyan people. It is money frozen, stolen by Qadhafi. The Turkish Government, the French, the British in some sense have recognized this Transitional National Council. If we would do that, they would have access to the $30 billion.

Senator McCain met with the leadership of this council. I have too. They would gladly pay us back for any assistance we could provide if they could get their hands on the money. Does the Senator agree with that?

Mr. McCAIN. I have been assured personally by the leadership of the Transitional National Council--by the way, one who has a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, and their Finance Minister was an economics professor at the University of Washington. So let's dispel any illusions about we do not know who they are. They are good and decent people who have risen up against an oppressive and repressive dictator and murderer. They want to reimburse the United States for our expenses, the way the Kuwaitis and the Saudis did after Operation Desert Storm.

But the point is that, again, anybody who believes that it is not in America's national security interest to see Qadhafi gone has paid no attention to his words and his actions. History will record how the United States stood on people who were struggling both peacefully and where it necessitated the use of force of arms, is where the United States of America was.

Mr. GRAHAM. If I may, we have our good colleague, a Naval intelligence officer, Senator Kirk from Illinois, and we will certainly yield to him now. But one last thought.

America needs to do two things quickly: We need to get our fiscal house in order. We need to balance our budget and decide among ourselves how important is this national security. To me, it is the No. 1 thing we should do in Congress. If we do not get that right, there is nothing else that is going to matter. There will never be economic prosperity in America if the world is in the hands of evil people who will make it very difficult to travel and trade and do business.

The other thing we need to do, after we balance our budget, is to have a clear vision of who we are and what we believe. I believe we are destined to lead the free world. I do not consider it a burden. I consider it the birthright of all Americans, not only to maintain our freedom but to help others secure theirs.

A word of warning: The day that America rejects that leadership role is a day we will eventually lose our freedom and more damage will be done to this country if we disengage than if we do engage.

So with that, I would like to recognize Senator Kirk from Illinois.


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