POLITICS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Graham Fine With Obama's Afghan Deliberations, But Demands More Troops

Barack Obama was granted a bit of breathing room and cover to continue deliberations on strategy for Afghanistan after a prominent Republican war hawk on Sunday said he was comfortable with how much time the president was taking.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Meet the Press on Sunday that he was comfortable with the pace of Obama's deliberations on whether to add additional troops into the eight-year long war.

"I think if he will continue to talk to his foreign policy team and the generals and come up with a military civilian strategy that is robust and gets to the heart of the problem he will be just fine and earn the award he was given," the Senator said, referring to the Nobel Peace Prize the president received on Friday.

While Graham was willing to grant Obama the space he needed to chart strategy, he was far less accommodating about what strategy Obama should choose. The Senator stressed that anything short of the 40,000 troops being asked for by U.S. military command in Afghanistan would lead to failure and insisted that history would judge Obama "not when we left [Afghanistan], but by what we left behind."

"At the end of the day he'll be judged by the decision he makes," said Graham. "If he does a half measure putting just a few troops in, that won't turn around the momentum of the battle, that will be weakness. If he used the counter-terrorism strategy that will lead to failure. If he will plus up American combat power and get more NATO troops involved and go after the Taliban and push the Karzai government that will be strength."

Still, the president and his team likely are pleased to have a Republican voice expressing comfort with the pace of Obama's deliberations. Graham's closest ally and best friend in the Senate, John McCain, has routinely rapped Obama for handling the situation, even warning the president about his "leisurely" pace. And on Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, suggested the president was playing with fire (and American lives) by not simply signing on to the recommendations from his military personnel.

"I think the smart thing to do here is to listen to Gen. Petraeus and Gen. McChrystal. This is not just about nation building, it's about protecting the United States of America," McConnell told CBS' Face the Nation. "I think it's very dangerous. I think we have to take this very, very seriously."