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Flynn’s Warped Worldview and Trump’s Foreign Policy

Trump is reportedly considering making Michael Flynn his National Security Adviser:

President-elect Donald Trump is considering retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn to be his national security adviser, a source familiar with the transition process told NBC News on Wednesday.

Flynn has been one of Trump’s top advisers throughout the campaign, so if he is selected this is probably the least surprising choice Trump will make. There is no question in my mind that this is a bad choice. Having Flynn in this position means that Trump’s foreign policy is going to be shaped to a large extent by someone with very dangerous views. I have talked a bit about Flynn’s disturbingworldview before, and I mentioned it again in my remarks on the relationship with Russia on Tuesday, but I think it merits reviewing again. The biggest red flag is the book he co-authored with Michael Ledeen. The fact that he would work with Ledeen is damning enough by itself, and the content of the book shows just how delusional and hard-line Flynn is. One reviewer summed up the book’s thesis this way:

Michael Flynn, who served as Obama’s second Defense Intelligence Agency director, takes the opposite view. “Field of Fight,” a new book Flynn co-wrote with historian Michael Ledeen, argues that America is up against a global alliance between radical jihadis and anti-American nation states like Russia, Cuba and North Korea. They say this war will last at least a generation. And they say it will require outside ground forces to go after al Qaeda and the Islamic State as well as a sustained information campaign to discredit the ideology of radical Islam.

It can’t be stressed enough that this is a deranged view of the threats to the U.S. Nothing could be more foolish or dangerous than believing in this non-existent “global alliance,” which lumps together disparate and competing states and groups and treats them all as part of the same threat. This not only grossly exaggerates the threats to the U.S., but it also distorts our understanding of the threats that do exist by absurdly linking them to one another. Needless to say, this view insists on endless U.S. entanglement in the affairs of predominantly Muslim countries for decades to come, and it requires increased hostility toward both Russia and Iran (among others). It is little more than reheated Cheneyism with a dollop of Santorumesque hyperbole. That’s the last thing the U.S. needs, and it is not what a lot of Trump’s voters thought they were voting for.

In a speech he gave last year, Flynn said, “We should assail isolationism, any form of American withdrawal, and the fallacy of moral equivalence.” To some extent, this is the standard boilerplate that most people in Washington use to affirm their commitment to U.S. “leadership,” but it is significant that he rejects “any form of American withdrawal.” That suggests that he isn’t interested in reducing U.S. commitments abroad anywhere, and a Trump foreign policy influenced by Flynn is very likely to be one in which those commitments only increase.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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