By Elise Viebeck - 07/20/14 11:14 AM EDT
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) did not mince words Sunday when responding to Secretary John Kerry's defense of U.S. leadership in conflicts around the world.
"He gave the most ridiculous and delusional summary of American foreign policy I could imagine," Graham said on NBC.
The comments came after Kerry described more than 10 episodes of U.S. progress in conflicts like the Syrian civil war, where he noted that American officials struck a deal to remove chemical weapons from the country.
Kerry was adamant in a prior interview with NBC that the Obama administration is pursuing the right path by exercising caution and diplomacy rather than more aggressive interventions.
"In every fundamental issue of conflict today, the United States is in the center leading and trying to make peace where peace is very difficult," Kerry said.
He added that Obama's approach of "peaceful, diplomatic engagement" is superior to tactics employed by the George W. Bush administration such as "quick-trigger deploying of troops."
The back-and-forth came as the Obama administration is increasingly engulfed in foreign policy challenges, from rising conflict between Israel and Hamas to unanswered questions about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Graham called on Obama to impose sanctions that hit Russian President Vladimir Putin personally, as well as the country's energy and banking sectors.
He also urged the White House to arm Ukraine, put more NATO troops on the ground and rebuild missile defense systems in the region.
U.S. and European officials have hesitated to ratchet up the pressure, particularly with sanctions, which could produce an economic backlash.