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Flynn and Ledeen’s Imaginary ‘Alliance’

We should have no illusions about the quality of advice Flynn will be giving Trump.

Paul Pillar isn’t impressed with Trump’s national security appointments so far. Here he comments on Flynn’s views:

Iran is another subject on which Flynn displays far more simplistically expressed emotion than any careful attention to facts and the pros and cons of U.S. policy options. His attitude is demonstrated in Congressional testimony in June 2015, which can be fairly summarized as saying that Iran is bad in every respect and we should have no dealings with it on anything. (Jim Lobe has collated some of the lowlights from this statement). Flynn stated that “regime change in Tehran is the best way to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program”—with no further elaboration on how this would be brought about, leaving us to suppose that it is the Iraq 2003 model. He has given no indication since then of dropping his blanket opposition to the negotiated agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear program and has successfully been in operation for more than a year, nor does he show any awareness of the U.S. intelligence community’s public judgment that Iran had stopped any nuclear weapons program several years before he was testifying.

Among other things, Flynn claims to know that “Iran has every intention of building a nuclear weapon” despite the fact that their government abandoned any attempt to do so over a decade ago. He claims that Iran’s government has stated this intention “many times,” but the truth is that their government has consistently denied ever seeking to build such a weapon. Many of the things that Flynn asserts in his testimony are demonstrably untrue, but they are part of a pattern of consistently exaggerating the threat from Iran and ignoring evidence that contradicts his alarmist assessments. Later in his testimony, he says this about Iran’s relations with certain other states:

Just look at the cooperation with North Korea, China and Russia. Connect those dots, and you get the outline of a global alliance aimed at the U.S., our friends, and our allies.

This is not a case of “connecting dots” at all. It is an invention of an “alliance” where none exists on the basis of some very weak evidence. There is some limited cooperation between these states, but they are not allies nor do they regularly work together as if they were. We see in Flynn’s testimony a nod towards the imaginary global “alliance” that Flynn and Ledeen concoct in their book (here is a video of the co-authors talking about the book from earlier this year), so this is a view that he already held over a year ago. That brings me back to the conclusion I reached over the summer when I first started writing about Flynn:

The fact that he believes (or claims to believe) things as obviously false global “alliance” of villains should make it clear that he is happy to indulge and recycle extremely dangerous and foolish ideological talking points. That’s not someone any of us should want working in or advising a future administration.

Unfortunately, he will be advising the next president in a very influential position, and we should have no illusions about the quality of advice Flynn will be giving him.