Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that he approves of President Barack Obama's decision to put boots on the ground in Africa to control the Ebola outbreak and wishes the president would do the same in Iraq and Syria to control Islamic militants there.
"It seems to be that the president is all in when it comes to Ebola," Graham said on CNN's "State of the Union." "I want to compliment him for sending troops to help get ahead of this in Africa. But we've got a series of half measures with ISIL. They're gonna draw this conflict out, and it will not lead to ISIL's destruction."
Obama insisted last month that he would not drag the United States into another ground war in Iraq, despite escalating aggression in the area by the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS. The president's strategy is to help Iraqi and Syrian forces in the area defeat the extremist fighters on their own.
Graham said he is confident that strategy won't work. "I think most Americans understand if we don't destroy ISIL, if they survive our best shot, that we're all less safe. And at the end of the day, you cannot destroy ISIL in Syria without a ground component."
U.S. military forces themselves are apparently less enthusiastic than the senator about putting boots on the ground. According to a recent Military Times survey of U.S. troops, more than 70 percent oppose expanding America's mission in Iraq and Syria with combat forces.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest has said Obama won't even "review or consider options" that include sending U.S. combat troops to the Middle East.
But Graham issued a plea to the president on Sunday to change his mind.
“Mr. President, level with the American people: You need boots on the ground,” Graham said. “And these are human beings with hopes and dreams, not just boots. American soldiers need to go back to Syria and Iraq as part of a coalition, and we’re going to need more than 4,000 to destroy ISIL in Iraq and Syria.”