COLUMBIA — In light of developing tensions between the U.S. and Iran, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham on Friday issued a stern notice to the Middle Eastern country.
"I don't want a war with Iran," Graham said, "but I want Iran to understand that if they choose to attack us, there will be a war, and they will lose it."
Graham, a South Carolina Republican and former Senate Armed Services Committee member, said now is the the time to be "firm" with the country, which is flanked by Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I don't want a war, but if there's any effort by the Iranians to come after American interests, that would be a hostile act," Graham said.
His remarks, made standing in a local office, come as the U.S. and Iran bristle with each other and rumors fly of another ill-fated Middle Eastern military expedition.
Graham said he appreciated the U.S.'s recent posturing; he accused Iran of "running wild," destabilizing the greater region, wreaking havoc and making threats.
"I like the fact that we're moving military assets forward, that we're putting bombers in the region, we're sending in an aircraft carrier, as a warning to Iran that if you come after American interests … we're going to hold you accountable," Graham said.
President Donald Trump said he did not want to go to war with Iran, according to a New York Times report on Thursday.
Graham said Iran is "challenging" the president – as are North Korea, China, Syria and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, he noted.
"Again, I don't want a war," Graham said, "but I don't want to be bullied by Iran."
Graham earlier this year, during an appropriations subcommittee hearing, described himself as as "pretty hawkish guy."