According to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Syria’s President Bashar Assad effectively told President Donald Trump  "F you" when Syrian military aircraft continued to lift off from the Shayrat air base near Homs that had been devastated by a strike by 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched by the U.S. Navy on Thursday. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Graham said, "Here's what I think Assad's telling Trump by flying from this base: 'F you.' And I think he's making a serious mistake." 
 
"Because if you're an adversary of the United States and you don't worry about what Trump may do on any given day, then you're crazy," Graham said. Mirroring statements made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month that neutralizing ISIS is Job Number One for the U.S., Graham said that defeating the Islamic State remains a top priority. In a reference to WW2, Graham said, "ISIS should be Germany, and Assad should be Japan."
 
"What comes next? I'm glad Trump did this. He is no longer Obama in the eyes of our enemies but he needs to do more to close the deal," Graham said.
 
Graham had frequently been critical of Trump. A veteran of the Air Force, Graham pointed out a legal difference between the use of chemical weapons on the one hand and conventional bombs on the other. He said that "we've signed all over the world saying we're not going to let one nation use weapons of mass destruction."
 
The South Carolinian wants more boots on the ground (as many as 6,000) so as to "accelerate the demise of" the Islamic State. With that accomplished, he said, the U.S. can "train the opposition to go after Assad."
 
"You need a safe haven quickly so people can regroup inside of Syria. Then you train the opposition to go after Assad," Graham said. "That's how he's taken out by his own people, with our efforts."


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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