U.S. Senator John McCain, a Republican foreign policy specialist, told the same BBC show that Putin's actions in Ukraine were akin to those of Adolf Hitler in 1930s Germany. "I think he (Putin) is calculating how much he can get away with, just as Adolf Hitler calculated how much he could get away with in the 1930s," McCain said.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did not appear on any of the major U.S. Sunday shows yesterday, but he did talk to the BBC about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
If McCain drawing a parallel between a foreign leader and Hitler seems familiar, it's because this comes up quite a bit.
In December 2013, McCain compared Fidel Castro to Hitler.
In September 2013, McCain compared Bashar Assad to Hitler.
In March 2011, McCain compared Muammar Gadhafi to Hitler.
In October 2002, McCain compared Saddam Hussein to Hitler.
Maybe it's time for a different historical point of comparison?
The point is not that Hitler must always be excluded from all analogies. Plenty of credible figures, in both parties, will occasionally reference the Nazi leader in various contexts, some more legitimate than others.
But when it becomes a reflex, there's a problem.
The world is sometimes confronted with monsters, and my point is certainly not to defend any of the leaders McCain has condemned in recent years.
But maybe it's time to widen the scope of history a bit? Hitler was a unique monster, not just a convenient go-to bad guy.