Defense hawk Senator Lindsey Graham has entered the Republican race for US president in 2016. He told potential voters the US must intervene further in the Middle East, where a "radical Islam is running wild."
Graham on Thursday became the ninth Republican to declare his bid for the White House alongside the well-known Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. That state's former governor, Jeb Bush, is likely to enter in the coming weeks.
Warning to isolationists
Announcing his bid in his southern state hometown of Central, South Carolina, the 59-year-old Graham bluntly told isolationist voters to pick someone else.
"Those who believe we can disengage from the world at large and be safe by leading from behind, vote for someone else. I am not your man," he said.
"I want to be president to defeat the enemies trying to kill us, not just penalize them or criticize them or contain them, but defeat them," Graham said, pointing to his belief that only such strong action would prevent another September 11th-style attack on US soil.
"Simply put, radical Islam is running wild," Graham said, adding that jihadists, such as the "Islamic State" ("IS") group in Syria and Iraq, were rich and entrenched.
"I'm afraid some Americans have grown tired of fighting them," he said. "I have bad news to share with you - the radical Islamists are not tired of fighting you."
Graham also addressed Democratic party frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was formerly President Barack Obama's top foreign diplomat.
"I have more experience with our national security than any other candidate in the race. That includes you, Hillary," Graham said.
He has already advocated deploying 10,000-plus US troops back into Iraq, alongside those Americans working as trainers and advisers.
Cold War experience in Europe
Graham served as an Air Force lawyer in the-then West Germany in the 1980s during the Cold War and served briefly as a US reservist colonel with judicial duties in Iraq in 2007.
In Congress, the three-term senator has sometimes drawn fire from other Republicans for siding with President Barack Obama's Democrats on the issues of immigration reform and climate change.
He has also accused Obama of failing to actively establish a functioning government in Libya after the ouster of Muammar Gadhafi in 2011. And, he has insisted that Obama's bid for a nuclear accord with Iran is in vain.
For American television viewers, Graham is a familiar face on Sunday US news programs, who often aligns with another Republican hawk, Senator John McCain of Arizona.
A survey in February by the Pew Research Center found that Americans were almost evenly divided on whether military force is "the best way to defeat terrorism" or whether it "creates hatred that leads to more terrorism."
Graham sprang to prominence in 1999 while serving in the House of Representatives as one of 13 Republicans who effectively acted as prosecutors at the impeachment trial of the then president Bill Clinton.
ipj/kms (Reuters, AP)