After Austin's Israel Remarks, Graham Has 'Lost All Confidence'

Calls defense secretary's remarks on Israel-Hamas war 'naive'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2023 2:00 AM CST
After Austin's Israel Remarks, Graham Has 'Lost All Confidence'
Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during a mark up business meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Lindsey Graham had a lot to say about Lloyd Austin's recent remarks on the Israel-Hamas war, in which the defense secretary suggested Israel could suffer a "strategic defeat" if it does not protect civilian life in Gaza, thus potentially pushing Gazans "into the arms of the enemy." The Republican senator's response, on CNN Sunday, was to imply Austin doesn't know what he's talking about. "He's so naive, I mean I just lost all confidence in this guy," Graham said. "This is a radicalized population. I don't want to kill innocent people, but Israel is fighting not just Hamas, but the infrastructure around Hamas. ... Strategic defeat would be inflaming the Palestinians? They're already inflamed. They are taught from the time they're born to hate the Jews and to kill them."

As Axios notes, Graham has backed Austin in the past and said on Sunday he likes the defense secretary personally, but he made it clear he couldn't disagree more with Austin's stance on this particular topic. He needs to "quit criticizing Israel in public," Graham said, pushing back on the idea that Israel is to blame for civilian deaths in Gaza, or that it would be to blame for radicalizing Gazans. If roles were reversed, he added, Austin might be singing a different tune: "If we were attacked like this, which we were in 9/11, if somebody called for us within two months to have a ceasefire against al-Qaeda, we would've laughed them out of town," he said. He also criticized Vice President Kamala Harris for similarly bemoaning the number of Palestinian deaths, and said no Republican would ask Israel to change its military tactics. (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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