Peak Lindsey

Senator Lindsey Graham speaks as he takes part in a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on January 2, 2014.
Senator Lindsey Graham speaks as he takes part in a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on January 2, 2014.
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.