It is hard to simply explain why we are fighting another war in the Middle East. However, this six sentence long conversation between a senator and a general did much of the work for me. All I had to do in this article was put the clip into context and translate what they were saying.
First, the clip:
Who is speaking?
First Person: Lindsey Graham.
Lindsey Graham: Republican, Senator of South Carolina. He is everything you think he is based off that description.
Lindsey Graham has a 0% rating by the Human Rights Campaign (LGBT/human rights group.) He is anti-abortion. He either doesn’t believe in global warming, or doesn’t act like he believes in global warming. He has an A rating by the NRA. I could go on. Graham has also been given a lot of campaign money from the weapons industry. My anti-favorite quote by him is, “Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.”
Here is why Lindsey Graham is important in this context. He is part of the following committees:
- Committee on Armed Services
- Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
- Subcommittee on Personnel (Ranking Member)
- Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
- Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
- Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia
- Ad Hoc Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration
- Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery (Ranking Member)
- Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight
Second Person: Marin Dempsey
General Marin Dempsey is the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That means he is the highest ranking military officer in the US. He is also the principal military advisor to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense.
Marin Dempsey has a lot of experience in the Middle East and generally has done a good job in whatever military operations he has been a part of.
Context of the video: On September 16, 2014 there was a public hearing to discuss ISIS and what the US should do about them. It was 3 hours and 41 minutes long. This video is a 52 second clip from it. Here it is again:
What is being said: (Note: ISIS and ISIL are the same thing.)
I have put a translated version in italics.
Senator Lindsey Graham: …Our national defense in terms of stopping ISIL from killing thousands or millions of Americans if they get the capability, really comes down to whether or not we can get the Arab world to go in there and defeat these guys?
Senator Lindsey Graham: ISIL is going to get nuclear weapons through terrorist voodoo magic, and our only hope to stop them is a bunch of sneaky Arabs?
General Dempsey: It really comes down to building a coalition so that what the Arab Muslim world sees, is them rejecting ISIS not-
General Dempsey: The only thing that’s going to stop ISIS is if Arabs and Muslims reject them.
Senator Lindsey Graham: They already reject ISIL. Do you know any major Arab ally that embraces ISIL?
General Dempsey: I know major Arab allies who fund them.
General Dempsey: Yes, ISIL is being funded by our major Arab allies. [Qatar and Saudi Arabia.]
Senator Lindsey Graham: Yeah but do they embrace them? They fund them because the Free Syrian Army [Syrian Rebels that aren’t ISIL] couldn’t fight Assad. They were trying to beat Assad. I think they realized the folly of their ways. Let’s don’t taint the Mid-East unfairly…
Senator Lindsey Graham: Yeah obviously Qatar and Saudi Arabia fund ISIL but that doesn’t mean they embrace them. [???] Qatar and Saudi Arabia didn’t want Assad to win the civil war so they gave money to anyone who was fighting against Assad. But I think they’ll stop doing that now. [???]
Let’s don’t taint the Mid-East unfairly… [Untranslatable]
In a democracy, war (if it should be fought at all) should be fought by the generals until they are concluded by the politicians. Lately I’ve been seeing generals trying to find ways to conclude wars while politicians find ways to keep fighting them. In this clip Dempsey is saying that a war in the Middle East cannot be ended by the US unless the Arab states want to end it as well. Graham is saying that we should fight this war because… well I’m sure it’s not because arms manufactures were his second biggest campaign contributor. In the end the Obama administration took Graham’s side and we are currently fighting a new war against people being armed by our major Arab allies.
Also, the phrase, “Let’s don’t taint the Mid-East unfairly…” is going to haunt my dreams forever.