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Flynn’s Warped Worldview and Trump’s Foreign Policy

Trump is reportedly considering [1] 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 disturbing [2] worldview [3] 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 [4] 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 [5] 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 [6], “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.

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18 Comments To "Flynn’s Warped Worldview and Trump’s Foreign Policy"

#1 Comment By victory over eurasia On November 17, 2016 @ 8:03 am

but at least he didn’t run his own email server…..!

All of this is grotesquely predictable, and those who were unwilling to acknowledge the appalling corruption of Trump’s nature and preferred his “honesty” to the imagined sins of Sec. Clinton should be completely and thoroughly ashamed. His lack of judgement, ignorance, and temperament present a huge risk to the US and to the world. He will be repeatedly tested and provoked by the Chinese, Russians, and others, and due to his weakness and fear will overreact repeatedly. It should be noted also, that as Trump gets all of his information from cable news, no-one can be surprised that he thinks the world is on fire. The Cable style of relentless fear-mongering and risk-hyping would terrify even the most placid and balanced of individuals afraid for their lives, and Trump is most certainly not calm or measured in any way.

White America has a lot to answer for with this election………

#2 Comment By liberal On November 17, 2016 @ 9:08 am

I voted for Clinton and am a left-liberal.

The thing I liked about Clinton the least, of course, was her foreign policy.

As far as Trump vs Clinton on foreign policy is concerned, looks like it might be a case of the devil you know is better than…

#3 Comment By Robert Graves On November 17, 2016 @ 9:19 am

on the other hand, Trump is on record saying he can work with Putin against Isis. My view is that it was Clinton who was more likely to start a pointless war to establish her bona fides in the international boys club. Developing our own (continental) energy resources through fracking and the XL pipeline also means there is less to fight about in the ME.

#4 Comment By George On November 17, 2016 @ 9:27 am

“Field of Fight” is one dispiriting data point on Flynn, but, as Trump’s key advisor on foreign policy matters, there is also what Trump said during the campaign which points away from the “global alliance” idea, including having better relations with Russia (which seems already underway), the general criticism of neoconservative foreign policy like the Iraq war, comment indicating the US would at least technically adhere to the Iran deal, and the general focus of his admistration being mostly on economic and other domestic matters vs. foreign policy adventurism. There is also the possibly the book simply reflects the well known views of co-author Michael Ledeen more than it does Flynn. Remember, though he was apparently fired by Obama, Flynn was Obama’s DIA chief for two years. You would think he shared a substantial part of the Obama administration’s thinking on foreign policy, and, was at the very least, not a neoconservative or foreign policy hawk.

#5 Comment By KevinS On November 17, 2016 @ 9:34 am

“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.”

Trump voters are about to get a lot of things they did not think they were voting for. Wait until the working class voters whose economic condition is already precarious find out that the Donald is willing to sign onto Paul Ryan’s little objectivist fantasy of privatizing social security and/or medicare. Wait until the biggest special interest of all — the banks — are once again deregulated so they can find new ways to bring the global economy to the brink of utter collapse.

#6 Comment By war gaming the cabinet On November 17, 2016 @ 10:10 am

I agree that Flynn should be outside the tent.

Like a lot of military people who got some neocon civilian to write their speeches for them when that was still fashionable, he was probably talking through his hat or regurgitating someone else’s thoughts when he said some of the things you quote, and is actually more in line with more prudent and mainstream US military culture, but we shouldn’t take that risk.

#7 Comment By liberal On November 17, 2016 @ 10:11 am

KevinS wrote,

Wait until the working class voters whose economic condition is already precarious find out that the Donald is willing to sign onto Paul Ryan’s little objectivist fantasy of privatizing social security and/or medicare. Wait until the biggest special interest of all — the banks — are once again deregulated so they can find new ways to bring the global economy to the brink of utter collapse.

They’ll just blame it on the Democrats.

#8 Comment By Daniel Larison On November 17, 2016 @ 10:16 am

“Like a lot of military people who got some neocon civilian to write their speeches for them when that was still fashionable, he was probably talking through his hat or regurgitating someone else’s thoughts when he said some of the things you quote…”

Just so you know, the book came out earlier this year. If he didn’t want to be identified with these views, he picked an awfully strange time to put his name to them.

#9 Comment By sherparick On November 17, 2016 @ 10:41 am

Reply to George Says.

Director of DIA is a military post and selection is based on a military recommendation. LTG Flynn rose up successfully through military ranks and the military bureaucracy into the position. Only after he started using the position to speak out of school to advance his own hobby horses did the Obama DoD decided to end his tenure in the position.

I think from Mr. Larison is quite correct that Mr. Trump is unlikely Nationalist Isolationist that American Conservative readers dream abut.

At the same time, I don’t know what these people really believe and think would be effective if foreign policy. They have been busy spreading hysterical lies the last 8 years feeding the anxiety that a African American President has to be fundamentally disloyal to the “Real” (white) American Nation. Feeding this anxiety has been a bull market the last 8 years and these folks have all gotten rich selling books and getting gigs on Fox News, CNN, and CNBC selling this crap. 74% of Trump voters feel terrorism and ISIS are a major threat to the U.S. and most think Iran is in cahoots with ISIS and the Taliban, rather than being the mortal enemies of each other, Iran being Shia and ISIS and Taliban being Sunni. Fox news and right wing talk radio will be all about how just having President Trump rather than President Obama makes us safer now that there is no longer a political advantage in pumping the story. Instead, I expect it will be Black and environmental protesters who become public enemies No. 1.

As far as what they actually do, well if their political popularity starts to fall, they may be tempted to start what they hope will be a quick short war to boost it. Otherwise it will be the normal blundering.

#10 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 17, 2016 @ 11:51 am

” 74% of Trump voters feel terrorism and ISIS are a major threat to the U.S. and most think Iran is in cahoots with ISIS and the Taliban, rather than being the mortal enemies of each other . . . ”

This is the mess of trying to decipher the ISIS/ISIL gambit that is being played.

I don’t have any illusions about politics. But I don’t expect Mr. trump to violate his own platform as blatantly as others suggest. Whether he has the backbone to look at these advocates and say — “We just had an election on intervention that enough is enough sixteen years ago” is a question.

Second, democrats and republicans have been led to believe that ISIS is threat. No few number of liberals commenting here over the last several years have been on the ISIS/ISIL bandwagon. If that stat is correct, it probably reflects the misguided belief that ISIS is some kind if organized state threat. And Mr. Trump is not out of the main despite the curious names that creep between the lines whose policies are decidedly interventionist. Most muslims are not radicals, and don’t adhere to radical agendas. But there is enough about to make it an issue. Thy only pose a threat to the US long term and that will most likely be the result of making a mess of Muslim regions and failing to clean up or immigration issues. Even that threat will be years and years in the making before it would be realized here at home. By immigration, I include both borders.

There are issues historically with the agencies mentioned above, but we would be kidding ourselves if we did not recognize that all of the major news outlets have capitalized on acts of terror by Muslims for political reasons.

Laughing. Blaming blacks for the end of the world is a favorite pastime for whites in general. An it’s no small issue of concerns, but pales against larger issues. One hopes that blacks will cease being the sacrificial lambs for some greater good of the country. It’s the devils bargain and it plagues us. If whites could find no other reason for voting other than being white — it’s long march even to the short sighted hopes of Pres. Lincoln, muchless Frederick Douglas – hyperbole. Mr. Trump was elected on restraint – that includes any plans on going after ISIS.

I don’t dream of an isolationist, but prudence to avoid unnecessary counter productive interventions is reasonable.

On the issues of policy Mr Trumps wins in nearly every column from conservative viewpoint. How far he strays will important. He is not a conservative by my view, but then conservative viewpoints are rare these days, in my view.

Third,

I think there is a lot of exaggerated commentary on what people who supported Mr. Trump believe. And there is a good deal of under estimation about what his supporters recognize as to his potential flaws. But we are not even a month to his inauguration, some breathing room should be employed to any speculation.

#11 Comment By rayray On November 17, 2016 @ 3:59 pm

Folks – Trump doesn’t really have a “platform” or “policies”. He likes folks like Flynn and Bolton and Giuliani because they seem “tough” and he likes tough. It’s the same reason he gravitates to authoritarian world leaders rather than to democratic world leaders.

The idea that he will put all these people in his cabinet only to completely ignore them and do his own thing is to postulate, against any and all evidence to the contrary, that he has an “own thing” he wants to do.

That said, if he does prove to have some rational independent judgement in matters of Foreign Policy, Health Care, and the rest that’d be great for the United States of America.

#12 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 17, 2016 @ 5:59 pm

“The idea that he will put all these people in his cabinet only to completely ignore them and do his own thing is to postulate, against any and all evidence to the contrary, that he has an “own thing” he wants to do.”

Seems reasonable to make comment on sch choices, while acknowledging the following. They are not officially in his cabinet. One think remains accurate about Mr. Trump, he never ceases to pull surprises.

I say that if recognition that getting electing may e the easiest part of this process — governing is another matter.

#13 Comment By bt On November 18, 2016 @ 12:09 am

I haven’t been posting much lately, I’m still recovering from the alcohol poisoning I’ve been suffering from since the dear leader scratched out his win. It’s a small consolation that he did not in fact get more votes that HRC – if not for that, I might have drunk myself right to death by Thursday or Friday last week.

Seriously, it’s one week in and let’s:

-Destroy Medicare
-Destroy Affordable Care Act
-Regime Change in Iran
-Michael Flynn, our man in Moscow
-Bannon in the White House

We’re just getting started though – Massive budget deficits dead ahead.

It’s very much Gore 2.0. I’m just hoping the Trump doesn’t get the chance to wreck the place for 8 years like W did.

#14 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 18, 2016 @ 9:51 am

Gen. Flynn will have considerable pushback if he intends to continue pressing the national security state.

#15 Comment By Irony Abounds On November 18, 2016 @ 11:08 am

“Gen. Flynn will have considerable pushback if he intends to continue pressing the national security state.”

From whom? Rand Paul is a voice in the wilderness on the Republican side and the Dems have no power.

#16 Comment By bt On November 18, 2016 @ 3:05 pm

“Gen. Flynn will have considerable pushback if he intends to continue pressing the national security state.”

—-

It is with some pleasure that I look forward to reading EliteComm’s soon to come critiques of the GOP/Trump’s Neocon vision for the world alongside. Politics can make for strange bedfellows.

When they try to push aside the sequester so that even more weapons can be purchased it will be clear where this is heading.

Perhaps Rand Paul will reappear and try to redeem himself, as the GOP will not be re-formed at the hands of the Democrats – It has to come from within.

#17 Comment By sglover On November 18, 2016 @ 5:34 pm

“Gen. Flynn will have considerable pushback if he intends to continue pressing the national security state.”

Heh. It’s always great to see full-blown cognitive dissonance displayed boldly. Over the next few months I’m going to pay extra attention to your comments — at least, the few that can even be parsed — just to enjoy the full blossoming of the rationalizations. It’ll **almost** be a kind of entertainment, anyway….

Look, Trump’s giving one of his spawn a national security clearance, handing the “management” of his companies to the family, and when the phrase “conflict of interest” comes up, his response is, “Trust me”. Even **Cheney** followed expectations and put his assets in a blind trust without much grumbling. This is the kind thing that makes a Yeltsin, a Kuchma, a Nazarbayev. This is real institutional rot. I thought “conservatism” had something to do with forebearance and the preservation of traditions.

#18 Comment By sglover On November 18, 2016 @ 5:39 pm

It is with some pleasure that I look forward to reading EliteComm’s soon to come critiques of the GOP/Trump’s Neocon vision for the world alongside. Politics can make for strange bedfellows.

Oh, it’s going to be a fantastic, ready-made ongoing psychology experiment. I can see the paper now: Evolution of rationalizations and defense mechanisms from mistaken premises.