Senator Lindsey Graham opened the evidence session of the Senate Appropriations Committee which hosted U2 singer Bono yesterday by telling the room that you don’t win wars against terrorists by killing them, or “dropping bombs on their head” but rather, by spending U.S. tax payer cash attempting to keep migrants un-radicalised. He said that non governmental organisations and charities in the Middle East and North Africa “can do just as much good as any battalion of soldiers”.
Speaking ahead of Bono’s testimony, Sen. Graham urged those in the committee room to read Bono’s op-ed in the New York Times, announcing that he had recently returned from a trip to Turkey and Egypt with the U2 front man.
Speaking of his wishes to pull together a new “Marshall Plan” for the Middle East and North Africa, he issued a warning to the American people: “You either pay now or you pay later”.
Sen. Graham said, urging for more money to be spent training migrants in Europe: “When you realise that most of these kids and their parents aren’t going back home any time soon… what kind of skill set do they need to make them viable human beings?”
He said “The government of Turkey has been extremely generous” – despite what many Europeans see as a shake down by Turkey of major European nations. The country has already demanded €3bn to deal with the migrant crisis, which was then raised to €6bn within a few days. Since then Turkish leaders have decided they want even more to attempt to halt the mass movement of people into Europe – a policy they should already be implementing.
And Sen. Graham added: “I’m going to work with Sen. Leahy… to put together an emergency relief package” though he was careful to stress that this wouldn’t come just from the United States. At this point in time, no other countries willing to take part have been named or identified publicly.
He was also keen to stress that he doesn’t want the money to come from other areas of America’s aid budget, but to find new money for this Marshall Plan of 2016: “I don’t want to take money away… from malaria, from the peace corps, from embassy security… I think we need to recognise we have an emergency on our hands, it has to be world driven not United States driven”.
He said he “could not agree more” with Bono’s op-ed in the Times, and argued that in order to stop the radicalisation of people from the Middle East and North Africa, the U.S. and her allies need to spend more money in the region.
“Germany and Japan were very radicalised populations…” he opined: “the Marshall plan did work”.
And he raised the threat of radical Islam, claiming it had “spread its wings”.
Perhaps most controversially, Sen. Graham asserted: “You’re not going to win this war by killing terrorists… the biggest threat to radical ideology is a small schoolhouse educating a poor young girl. that will do more damage to the radical islamist extremist than any bomb you can drop on their head.”
He continued: “To our NGO community you can do just as much good as any battalion of soldiers… to take the land from the enemy is one thing, to hold it is another.”
His consolation to his own voters and tax payer was: “Times are tough at home but when you go to one of these refugee camps… you know it could be worse”.