Late last week, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) responded to the crisis in Ukraine in the most John McCain way possible. “We are all Ukrainians,” he told Time.
And today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) turned to Twitter to address the Ukrainian crisis in what can fairly be described as Peak Lindsey: “It started with Benghazi. When you kill Americans and nobody pays a price, you invite this type of aggression. #Ukraine”
There was no indication that Graham was kidding. The senator, sometimes considered one of the more constructive voices among Senate Republicans, actually seems to see a connection between Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian territory and a terrorist attack in Libya a year and a half ago.
I realize it’s an election year and Graham is facing some primary opponents. I also realize that Republicans worried about primary challengers are often pushed into making foolish comments, especially in deep-red states, in order to impress far-right activists.
But this is awfully nutty, even by 2014 standards.
As I suspect – or at least, hope – Graham understands, there’s literally nothing to connect the two events. Russia’s interest in Ukraine goes back many generations, and obviously predates September 2012 by a long shot.
Consider the logic. As Graham sees it, Putin is sitting in Moscow thinking, “Well, Libyans attacked a U.S. diplomatic outpost 19 months ago, so why don’t we seize Crimea?”
By Graham’s reasoning, terrorists killed 241 Americans in Beirut in 1983; Reagan didn’t do much of anything except run away; and this “invited” every international act of aggression that followed. It’s a ridiculous argument, of course, but so is Graham’s.
As David Ignatius explained yesterday, “There are many valid criticisms to be made of Obama’s foreign policy … but the notion that Putin’s attack is somehow the United States’ fault is perverse.” The knee-jerk reaction to blame American officials is a little too common, as evidenced by Graham’s misguided tweet, but it’s also plainly wrong.