Lindsey Graham’s uncharacteristically smart take on Egypt

Sen. Lindsey Graham was on “Face the Nation” this morning, where faced the nation and shocked it by showing uncharacteristic intelligence and compassion discussing the situation in Egypt.

Describing the military regime as coming to power through a coup, Graham declined the opportunity to chest thump in response to Bob Scheiffer’s extremely suggestive questions, which seemed to endorse the idea that we should support the junta because extremist fringe actors have sided with the peaceful protesters who are being slaughtered in the streets of Cairo.

“In 2011, we sided with the protesters. There’s no going back,” he said.

“The Egyptian people are not terrorists.”

Graham likened Egypt to Algeria, host to a brutal civil war in the 1990s, and said that if we continue supporting the junta, it’s likely that Egypt will similarly become a failed state. With the regime making “martyrs” out of the Muslim Brotherhood — some 30 percent of the country — he predicted that violent extremism will become more commonplace as time wears on.

Graham said that although our aid might not be that significant in terms of quantity, he insisted it has symbolic value. Withdrawing it, the Senator claimed, would send a strong message to western tourists, investors, and allies.

Perhaps most shockingly, Graham appeared ready to butt heads with Israel on this issue. Having just returned from Egypt, where he met with various factions alongside John McCain, Graham said that junta leader Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is should ignore the Gulf states’ and Israel’s “whispers in his ear” to crush the Muslim Brotherhood.

Graham, however, said that the whole situation came about because former President Morsi was “overplaying his hand.” He insisted that if the military restored democracy, the Brotherhood “would be creamed” in an election.

It was hard to find fault with a single assertion that the habitually-groanworthy senator made on this issue. Cue the Tea Party “Primary!” war chants and flailing about Graham being a terrorist sympathizer.

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Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.