America's most terrified senator: Lindsey Graham's never-ending doomsday visions

Lindsey Graham says ISIS can destroy entire American cities and kill all of us. A look at a very scared man

Published September 15, 2014 6:53PM (EDT)

                             (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Sen. Lindsey Graham is terrified. The world as he sees it is just filled to the brim with terrifyingly competent terrorists groups who, without any warning and acting with unchecked efficiency, will make good on whatever threat they issue and waltz unimpeded into the United States and wreak havoc. He describes horrifying scenarios in which untold numbers of American citizens are killed. And Graham helpfully disseminates his disturbing visions of mass slaughter via cable news and the Sunday shows.

This, of course, is precisely the sort of abject terror that groups like the Islamic State do their damnedest to inspire, and Graham is proving himself to be very easily terrorized. In fact, as time goes by, the threat seems to grow in Graham’s mind, and the Islamic State becomes hypothetically capable of killing more and more American citizens, even as intelligence agencies insist that the group poses no immediate threat to the United States.

Here’s Graham on the June 24 edition of Fox News’ “On the Record” talking about the need to take on ISIS. According to Graham, the benefit to confronting the terrorist group was that we would be able to stop the next 9/11. “Do you believe that the people who are shooting folks in the head, killing children in front of their parents, beheading people by the hundreds, if not thousands, would not attack us if they could?” Graham asked.

Sure, that sounds bad, but on the spectrum of things Lindsey Graham is afraid of, “another 9/11” is actually pretty moderate.

In August, Graham was invited to Fox News Sunday to talk terrorism, and upped the Islamic State’s fantasy body count to an entire city’s worth. “When I look at the map that Gen. Keane described, I think of the United States,” Graham said. “I think of an American city in flames because of the terrorists’ ability to operate in Syria and Iraq.”

A whole city! Burning! Again, that sounds really bad, but we still haven’t arrived at the outer limit of Lindsey Graham’s terror-fueled imagination.

Graham was back on Fox News Sunday this past weekend to discuss the Islamic State and gave a performance that can be charitably described as unhinged. “This is a war we’re fighting!” Graham shouted. “It is not a counterterrorism operation. This is not Somalia. This is not Yemen. This is a turning point in the war on terror. Our strategy will fail yet again. This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.”

All of us. ISIS is going to kill every single American, says this U.S. senator. I’m not sure where Graham goes from that one.

Does he actually believe that? Almost certainly not. It’s likely that his passions just got the better of him. The problem there is that Lindsey Graham’s passion is for starting wars in the Middle East. And he knows that you can’t just send troops to fight in Iraq (again) for no reason; you have to sell it. If he can convince enough people that the Islamic State represents an imminent danger to the country, then his job becomes easier.

You’ll likely recall that this same routine played about a little over a decade ago as U.S. politicians fought to get in front of cameras and tell frightening stories about the horrible weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein was ready to distribute to al-Qaida. Among them was then-freshman Sen. Lindsey Graham, who worried that Saddam’s (nonexistent) cache of nerve gas “could kill millions of people” and concluded that “we need to get on with the idea of disarming him and having a regime change, because it’s in our national interest.”

Here we are once again, with another existential threat to the United States looming in Lindsey Graham’s mind. And he’s once again helping to nurture an atmosphere of fear and panic in order to deepen the U.S. military commitment to the region.

By Simon Maloy

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