Bobbing for War

Florida's senator should get out before he gets in

Graham's October 24, 2001, motion failed by a vote of 72-27. "This is our current battle against terrorism," Graham lamented the next day at a National Press Club luncheon, adding that Colombia is "where the terrorist war has been raging, and now we are saying at the very time that rhetorically, we are going to war against global terrorists, that in the area where we are at greatest immediate threat, we are in retreat."

The passage not only highlights Graham's sometimes less-than-inspired linguistic style but also shows just how determined he is to send us to war in Colombia. "Graham is one of the biggest hawks for the Colombian military in the entire Congress," says Adam Isacson, a senior associate for the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C. "He regularly compares FARC and al Qaeda to push for more military action in Colombia. I believe he is the only member of Congress to make that comparison so nakedly."

During the past year, Graham has supported sending more military aid to Colombia and sponsored legislation to lessen trade restrictions and make way for American corporations to employ (read: exploit) workers there. When the late Minnesota Democrat Paul Wellstone tried to divert some of the millions of dollars going to the herbicide project into drug rehabilitation efforts here in the United States, Graham voted against it. The senator has also opposed measures to make the military aid contingent upon Colombia improving its abysmal human rights record, which has been documented ad infinitum by groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Our man in Washington learned to stop worrying and love the bombs
Our man in Washington learned to stop worrying and love the bombs

Why is Graham backing such a horrible policy and terrible waste of taxpayer money? I think he's partly just pandering to wealthy Colombian exiles in South Florida, along with the politically dominant right-wing Cuban community in Miami. It makes for good political capital. And he's long backed Republican-led foreign policy disasters, including those in El Salvador and Nicaragua, not to mention Reagan's economically disastrous missile defense system and the 20-year-old drug war.

Although he has talked a good game against attacking Iraq, Graham's ideology regarding the Arab world is just as super-hawkish as his South American strategy. He has continued to rally support for preemptive strikes on camps in Syria and Iran. "Against those international terrorists such as Hizballah and Hamas, we need to be launching attacks on their headquarters and their training camps," Graham said in November on CNN's Late Edition.

Smart, Bob. Let's begin preemptive strikes against those groups that oppose Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands. Let's ruin any chance of even pretending to be an honest broker in a future peace process. And let's distract ourselves from the just fight against al Qaeda and further inflame the entire region for no good reason. Yes, Hizballah has struck U.S. targets overseas, but that was in the 1980s. Unless one of those groups actually attacks the United States or its citizens now, or we have reliable evidence that such an attack is being planned, we should try to solve the problem in the Middle East peacefully.

I hope Graham mentions that truth in his journal, along with this brief entry: "Decide not to run for president. Can't win."

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