POLITICS
09/30/2010 03:33 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Sen. Graham: U.S. Forces In Iraq Should Be Labeled 'Combat Troops'

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) used his appearance at The Atlantic's Washington Ideas Forum on Thursday to make the case that not enough public attention is being paid to the challenges and constraints of U.S. foreign policy. And he told the Huffington Post that part of the problem -- at least in the case with Iraq -- is that the administration has misleadingly insisted that combat operations are over.

"If you are over there, you get combat pay," Graham said, when asked if the remaining 50,000 troops in Iraq should be labeled non-combat forces. "The title has changed but the job of securing the nation still goes on. If we can get a government formed, we are well on our way to a transformative event in the Mideast and Iraq."

Should they be labeled combat troops? "Yeah," replied Graham.

The South Carolina Republican, who has worked closely with the White House on a host of foreign policy matters, was far from critical about the administration's approach to the joint wars -- though he argued that law enforcement and judicial entities lack the tools they need to hold and prosecute suspected terrorists. Rather, Graham's beef was with the American public, which he claimed has failed to yell loud enough about foreign policy issues to make them electorally significant

"Politicians won't take these issues seriously because nobody is yelling at them. People are getting yelled at about spending and that's great because we are spending too much. We are getting yelled at about too much debt, that's great. People ought to be yelling at us about what are [we] doing to keep the country safe," said Graham. "I just hope it doesn't take an attack to make [the attention] flip back. And I worry that's what it may take."

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