As tensions ratchet up between the U.S. and Iran, Senator Lindsey Graham appeared via phone interview Friday on Fox & Friends to give his thoughts on where the conflict should go next.
Graham currently serves as the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and has been outspoken about foreign policy issues.
Show co-host Steve Doocy asked Graham about the possibility of Iranian retaliation to the death of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and how to quell that threat.
“How would you stop retaliation? Through deterrence,” Graham replied. “What’s the one thing the regime can’t afford to lose? The ability to refine oil. So what President Trump has done is up the ante as high as you can up it.”
“And if I were the president, I would put on the table targets in Iran, not Iraq and Syria,” Graham said. “Economic targets that would crush the economy. What would take it to the next level would be to destroy the ability of the Iranians to refine oil and sell it. The oil refineries are the last things they have in terms of economy.”
Newsweek reached out to Senator Graham’s office for further comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
“To all those Democrats who are criticizing the president, I was aware of what his options were,” Graham said when asked if the president should have consulted Congress about his decision. “They were about to unleash holy hell on our people in Iraq and throughout the region, and the president decisively took action.”
“You gotta put on the table quickly, in my view, the consequences of retaliation by the Iranians,” Graham continued. “They gotta know what comes next. We took out the No. 1 military mind of Iran. The next thing we need to put on the table is the No. 1 economic engine of Iran is the oil refineries. The president has to convince the Ayatollah that if he retaliates our response will be greater than the market will bear.”
Graham said the termination of Soleimani at an airport in Baghdad, Iraq on Thursday was significant but not motivated by vengeance.
“We killed the most powerful man in Iran short of the Ayatollah,” Graham said. “He was the right fist of the Ayatollah and we took the Ayatollah’s arm off. But this is not an act of revenge for what he’s done in the past. This was a preemptive defensive strike planned to take out the organizer of attacks yet to come.”
“The intelligence was very strong that Soleimani was orchestrating chaos in Iraq at our expense and throughout the region,” Graham continued. “The president was informed of these potential attacks and he acted. This was a defensive strike to neutralize future attacks that were being planned by Soleimani and the popular mobilization front of the Shiite militias in Iraq.”
Graham referred to the drone strike that killed Soleimani as a “preemptive attack.”
“All the things that Soleimani had done in the past were real,” Graham said. “But he’s not dead today because of what he did in the past. He’s dead today because he miscalculated what President Trump would do regarding future attacks.”