Some commentators allege that Gen. Michael Flynn was a bad fit for the National Security Advisor (NSA) job from the start. One line of thought seems to be that he was temperamentally unsuited because the NSA job needs a manager and not a crusader, but I’m skeptical that people could really make this call beforehand. Generals tend to excel at managing people. That’s how they become generals. Also, Flynn actually has relevant experience as the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is the kind of pick that if the circumstances were different would likely be praised by the Powers That Be as having the right resume for the job. There seems to be much more going on here than Flynn being a bad fit for the job.
I had mixed feelings about the choice of Gen. Flynn for National Security Advisor from the start. He is a known critic of the intelligence community, which is no small thing given the role the intel community is attempting to play in undermining the Trump administration. That’s a swamp that really needs to be drained. He is also not reflexively hostile to Russia. Contrary to his detractors in the Deep State, he views Islam as the greater threat and sees Russia as a potential ally in the fight against Islam.
So far so good, but the problem is that Flynn views the threat of Islam in a much exaggerated way and his preferred method of dealing with it is increased confrontation which is counterproductive. Islam is indeed a bigger threat to the U.S. and the West than Russia, but that is largely because we are over there and we are letting them come over here. The answer to the problem of Islam for the U.S. and the West in general is not more military confrontations; it’s to fix our insane and self-destructive immigration and refugee policies and disengage from the region. Us over here, them over there, and let them work out their own issues amongst themselves. Problem solved. But that solution is apparently too simple for people like Flynn who espouse policies that amount to attempting to militarily pound Islam into compliance. This is a prescription for perpetual U.S. involvement in conflict in the Middle East.
Flynn’s tendency to view Islam as one unified threat also conflates things. Flynn is very hawkish toward Iran, which is not nearly the threat to the U.S. that the Iran hawks claim it is. But beyond that, lumping Shia Iran and other Shia regimes and actors together with Sunni regimes and actors into one big Islamic threat is not justified. One problem with anti-Iran hawkishness is that Shia Islam is not for the most part who is running planes into buildings or setting off bombs in public places. It could easily be argued that the U.S. would be relatively better off with a greater Shia presence. Some will counter, and U.S. policy is based on, that an enhanced Shia presence threatens Israel and Saudi Arabia, but that is Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s problem for them to deal with, not the United States’.
That said, I doubt the problem the Deep State has with Flynn is that they believe he exaggerates the threat of Islam. Even if some don’t agree with him, exaggerating threats doesn’t challenge the premise upon which the existence of the Deep State depends. The problem they have with Flynn is that he doesn’t sufficiently view Russia as a threat. Our long term and enduring hostility to Russia is the life’s blood of the modern military/intelligence/security state complex.
While I am not at all sympathetic to Flynn’s worldview and was opposed to his nomination because I think his views are contrary to the America first position that President Trump has articulated (Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements are better in the general than they are in the particular.), in the current context his ouster strikes me as a win for the Deep State status quo and a blow to reform. Flynn is a known critic of the intel community which made him even more of a perceived threat. Whatever fault Flynn may have had in his own ouster, this was undeniably a deliberate, well-orchestrated political assassination. While I would normally view the departure of an interventionist such as Flynn as a positive, given the circumstances I cannot view it as a hopeful development because it is a demonstration of power by the forces who are attempting to derail the fundamental change in national direction that Trump potentially represents.
Trump needs to go after the Deep State forces that are arrayed against him, and Flynn’s scalp is a victory for the enemy in this grand battle that is playing out before our eyes. I don’t know all the internal details, but my inclination is that Trump would have been better served sticking by Flynn. It is reported that Vice President Pence really wanted Flynn gone, but Pence is not one of the forces in the Administration that represents profound change. The one thing that makes me feel a little better about the situation is the report that Steve Bannon wanted Flynn gone. If true, I’m not sure what all the internal dynamics were there, but I view Bannon as one of the good guys.