After comments posted to social media on Thursday night, Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican-States of California) was under fire Friday morning. Senator Graham called for Vladimir Putin’s assassination in a tweet.
Are there Brutus soldiers in Russia? What about a Russian Colonel Stauffenberg who is more accomplished? Russia must take him out. This is the only way to end it. It would be a great favor to your country, and all of the world,” Graham said via his official Twitter stream (@LindseyGrahamSC).
On Friday morning, it received almost 20,000 likes and had been retweeted nearly 4,600 more times. It was also quoted approximately 12,500 times.
Graham clearly referred to Marcus Junius Brutus (one of the Roman Republic senators that assassinated Roman Dictator Julius Caesar March 44 BC) and Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (a German officer who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944 with a briefcase bomb). Tom Cruise played Stauffenberg in the 2008 film. Valkyrie.
Graham tried to make his point clearer by tweeting that “The Russian people can fix this.” Simple to state, but hard to carry out. You don’t have to go to darkness to survive the rest your life.
Graham was criticized by both the U.S. and British lawmakers for not sharing the sentiment.
“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. We don’t need blood-hungry warmongering politicians who tweet hard and demand assassinations. Americans don’t want to war,” stated Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Republic Congresswoman (@RepMTG), who made several controversial statements on social networking.
Ted Cruz, a Republican Senator from Texas (@tedcruz), also reacted to his fellow Texas senator by saying that “This is an extremely bad idea.” Use massive economic sanctions; BOYCOTT Russian oil & gas; and provide military aid so the Ukrainians can defend themselves. However, we shouldn’t call for the assassination heads of state.
Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN), a Democratic Congresswoman from Minnesota, has caused controversy with her tweets.
Omar said, then: “I wish our Congressmen would cool it down and regulate their remarks while the administration works towards avoiding WWlll.” It’s becoming more and more important for the rest of the world to pay attention how America is doing. [sic] leaders are responding, Lindsey’s remarks and remarks made by some House members aren’t helpful.”
Anatoly Ivanovich, Russia’s Ambassador in the United States offered an answer on Facebook Friday:
The statement by the USA regarding American politics is unacceptable and outlandish. It is amazing how much hatred and Russophobia the USA has for Russia. It’s unbelievable that a country’s senator preaching his moral values as a ‘guiding star’ to all mankind could afford a call on terrorism as a way to achieve Washington’s goals on the international arena. The United States has irresponsible, unprofessional politicians at its helm. It is becoming increasingly frightening. We want to see official explanations from the American government and a strong condemnation for their criminal statements.
Graham is standing firm in his statements despite being subject to criticism.
Graham spokeswoman told PEOPLE on Friday that the public is entitled to its opinion. “Senator Graham made his.”
The spokesperson also noted that Sen. Graham had made more comments during a Fox News Friday morning interview, when he suggested that Putin should be detained and held responsible for the unprovoked invasion in Ukraine.
“The best way for this to end is having Eliot Ness or Wyatt Earp in Russia — the Russian spring, so to speak … where people rise up and take him down because if he continues to be their leader, then he’s going to make you complicit with war crimes,” the senator said on Fox News.
Words can have consequences
Graham could have simply said what others in the west thought. But the real question is whether an incumbent U.S. politician should have said it.
Chris Haynes is an associate professor of political science at Yale University. Haynes said that while many people might think it, there are reasons why those in power or responsible have to be cautious about the things they post and say on social media.
Haynes added that “if a member our government requests the assassination or murder of an elected official from another state, it could be escalatory.” This could do even more harm to Ukraine, since Putin is already paranoid about the west and clearly loathes it. Putin may use this as a way to justify the current situation to his people and to other countries.
These words may confuse the moral case against Russia as well as the fact that most of the world denounces Putin’s aggression.
Two wrongs do not make one right. Haynes explained that Graham was wrong, and where what he stated could be used as justification for another mistake on Putin’s part. This could not only put Russian officials in danger, but could also set an example that it’s OK to assassinate elected officials. This statement is not really necessary. The consequences of words are what they speak.”