What on earth has gotten into Lindsey Graham? The Republican establishment was always embarrassed by the loose cannon Donald Trump, but they’re sure giving him a run for the money now. On Thursday evening, Senator Graham (R-SC) tweeted: “Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military? The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out. You would be doing your country – and the world – a great service.” He followed up with a threat to the same people to whom he was asking to do the world a service: “The only people who can fix this are the Russian people. Easy to say, hard to do. Unless you want to live in darkness for the rest of your life, be isolated from the rest of the world in abject poverty, and live in darkness you need to step up to the plate.”
That doubled “live in darkness” gave rise to speculation that Graham may have been tweeting from cocktail hour, but in any case, his wild statements are vivid examples of how high the war fever against Russia is getting these days, and how reckless it really is. Imagine if a member of Russia’s Federal Assembly called on the American people to rise up and kill Old Joe Biden (since it would be harder to identify and locate whoever is really in charge), and threatened that Americans would “be isolated from the world in abject poverty, and live in darkness” if they did not do so. The outcry would be swift and shrill, and the Assembly member would become a living example for the West of the inherent belligerence and aggression of Putin’s regime.
The public call by a member of the legislature for the assassination of a foreign head of state could easily be seen as an act of war. Jackson Proskow, Washington bureau chief for Canada’s Global News, noted Friday that Graham’s statements were already being used in Russia for propaganda purposes: “This spectacularly bad tweet from a sitting U.S. senator has fed directly into Putin’s claims that the west poses a threat to Russia. It’s being used on loop on Russian state TV today.” In the same vein, retired FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi stated: “A US Senator calling for Putin’s assassination has handed Putin an ‘I told you so’ moment with his staff, and likely made it harder for Russians to rise up.”
Accordingly, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), who, like Trump, is supposed to be much more of a loose cannon than Graham, responded: “While we are all praying for peace & for the people of Ukraine, this is irresponsible, dangerous & unhinged. We need leaders with calm minds & steady wisdom. Not blood thirsty warmongering politicians trying to tweet tough by demanding assassinations. Americans don’t want war.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) added some positive suggestions: “This is an exceptionally bad idea. Use massive economic sanctions; BOYCOTT Russian oil & gas; and provide military aid so the Ukrainians can defend themselves. But we should not be calling for the assassination of heads of state.”
Indeed. What was Lindsey Graham thinking? What was former Michael McFaul, Obama’s ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, thinking when he tweeted Wednesday (and later deleted): “There are no more ‘innocent’ ‘neutral’ Russians anymore. Everyone has to make a choice— support or oppose this war. The only way to end this war is if 100,000s, not thousands, protest against this senseless war. Putin can’t arrest you all!”
No more innocent Russians? That’s the kind of talk that has led to genocide more than once in human history. Graham and McFaul are speaking with the recklessness of people who seem to have lost all sight of the fact that words can have consequences, sometimes catastrophic consequences. It appears as if they have lived in comfort and ease in the world’s lone superpower for so long that they have lost all perspective, and think that we can forever make war moves against our old Cold War foe without suffering any serious consequences. Yeah, gas prices will go up, but a sitting U.S. senator and an establishment member of the Washington elites don’t have to worry about that; only the common people do.
Lindsey Graham’s statements were so irresponsible that it is hard to believe he really put them out there in public, and it strains credulity even more that he hasn’t removed them. Graham’s kind of talk is likely to get people killed sooner or later, and in this age of Biden misrule, Putin could make sure that that day comes sooner than anyone expects.