The US military will never leave Afghanistan if Sen. Lindsey Graham has his way.
The Republican senator from South Carolina expressed his hope Sunday
that the country would invite the US to install permanent military
"I hope that we can find an enduring relationship with Afghanistan
that will make sure that country never goes back into the hands of
terrorists," Graham told NBC's David Gregory. "The idea of putting
permanent military bases on the table in 2011, I think, would secure our
national interests and tell the bad guys and the good guy we're not
leaving, we are staying."
"But that's important," observed Gregory. "You believe a permanent US
military presence in Afghanistan is required to order to head off a
potential failed state in the future?"
"I think it would be enormously beneficial to the region as well as Afghanistan," Graham replied.
"We've had airbases all over the world. A couple of air bases in
Afghanistan would allow the Afghan security forces an edge against the
Taliban in perpetuity. It would be a signal to Pakistan that the Taliban
are never going to come back in Afghanistan. They could change their
Graham continued: "It would be a signal to the whole region that
Afghanistan is going to be a new and different place and if the Afghan
people want this relationship, they are going to have to earn it. But I
hope they will seek a relationship with the United States where we can
have an enduring relationship, economic, militarily and politically."
In December, Graham made similar remarks to CNN's Eliot Spitzer.
"Under the right circumstances I think it would really secure the
gains we made to have a U.S. presence in Afghanistan, two airbases that
would be beneficial to the Afghan security forces," he said.
"I am appalled by Senator Graham's comments," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
said in a statement. "Rather than advocating for a permanent extension
of the costly and counterproductive military occupation of Afghanistan,
it is time to finally end America's longest war and bring our men and
women in uniform home."
President Obama's administration has vowed to begin a withdrawal of
US troops starting in July of this year, but in recent months
administration spokespeople have been backtracking on that deadline.
This video is from NBC's Meet the Press, broadcast Jan. 2, 2010.