No doubt many of you have read the front-page Sunday New York Times article about Trump’s National Security Advisor-designate Michael Flynn entitled “In Security Pick, ‘Sharp Elbows’ and No Dissent.” And no doubt those who did were struck by the anecdote about Flynn’s stunning demand, after the storming of the U.S. compound in Benghazi, that his subordinates at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) find proof that Iran had a role in the attack. As noted by the Times’ reporters,
Mr. Flynn, whom President-elect Donald J. Trump has chosen to be his national security adviser, soon took to pushing analysts to find Iran’s hidden hand in the disaster, according to current and former officials familiar with the episode. But like many other investigations into Benghazi, theirs found no evidence of any links, and the general’s stubborn insistence reminded some officials at the agency of how the Bush administration had once relentlessly sought to connect Saddam Hussein and Iraq to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Indeed, that reminder made sense. According to the article, Flynn “connected immediately” with Michael Ledeen after meeting him around 2010 due to a similar worldview, including “the belief that America was in a world war against Islamist militants allied with Russia, Cuba and North Korea.” They connected so well that that they co-authored a book published just five months ago entitled The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, which The Washington Post’sCarlos Lozada discussed in a highly critical and timely book review late last month.
Among the Neocons
I ordered the book from my local library last week, and I can tell you that Lozada was actually being charitable. Over the coming days and weeks, I and other contributors will offer further examples of Flynn’s off-the-wall views. For now, I’ll just note that Flynn and Ledeen believe that those Islamic militants are allied not only with Russia, Cuba, and North Korea, but also with China, Syria, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, just in case you underestimate the size and breadth of the enemy that the United States and Judeo-Christian civilization faces.
Ledeen, of course, is a fantasist and conspiracy theorist (or cynic) and neocon of the first order. Ledeen is now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. But in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the Iraq invasion, he was based at the American Enterprise Institute and served as a consultant to Doug Feith’s policy shop at the Pentagon, the one responsible for similarly “proving” that Saddam Hussein was behind September 11 and/or al-Qaeda. When it became public shortly after the invasion that Ledeen was the one foreign policy analyst that Karl Rove regularly consulted, I wrote a piece detailing his history, including his long-time and prominent advocacy of the completely discredited claim that the KGB was behind the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, the so-called “Bulgarian Connection.” Then there was his role in the Iran-Contra scandal. That Ledeen could now return as a top adviser to a man occupying quarters adjoining the Oval Office is one of the scarier prospects of a Trump administration.
Flynn’s compatibility and close association with Ledeen should raise all kinds of alarm bells, especially for those who had placed their hopes in a Trump presidency because so many neoconservatives and Iraq war advocates had opposed his election. So far, however, it seems that public opposition to Flynn’s appointment is confined primarily to mainly liberal organizations, and religious, anti-Islamophobic, and anti-war groups. Fifty-three such groups signed a public letter sent to Trump Monday, which is posted below. One can only hope that, as people learn more about the worldview shared by Flynn and Ledeen, that number will grow and span a much broader spectrum of opinion.
Dear Mr. President-elect,
We are organizations representing millions of Americans, writing to express our deep concern with your appointment of Lt. General (Ret.) Michael Flynn to the position of National Security Advisor. While deserving respect for the time he has served our country in uniform, we feel General Flynn is unfit for serving in this critical post. His appointment will damage America’s standing in the world and pose a threat to our national security.
The United States faces complex national security challenges that necessitate serious, measured leadership. The National Security Advisor is a critical role. Considering General Flynn’s deeply troubling history of bigoted and deceitful statements and his alarming ties to foreign governments, it is clear he is a completely inappropriate choice to serve in the most senior national security position in the White House.
General Flynn has repeatedly made Islamophobic statements and peddled anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. He has written that “fear of Muslims is rational” and said that “Islam is a political ideology” and “a cancer” that “hides behind being a religion,” and continuously peddles the nonsensical fear of “Shariah law” spreading in the United States. On social media, he shared a blatantly anti-Semitic tweet. General Flynn’s repugnant statements show a lack of respect for the rights and dignity of Muslims and make him unfit for this post.
General Flynn is entitled to differ from the large majority of the American security establishment by opposing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran. But his advocacy of “regime change” over diplomacy as a means of addressing Iran’s nuclear program is reckless and incendiary. His appointment will send a dangerous signal to all parties to the agreement and the entire world that the United States cannot be counted on to adhere to its obligations under this or other vital international agreements.
Perhaps most alarming, since last summer General Flynn has regularly attended your classified intelligence briefings while also advising foreign governments. He has reportedly leaked classified US intelligence to Pakistan, and his lobbying company, Flynn Intel Group, has ties to Turkish interests close to the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
General Flynn’s appointment as National Security Advisor is a frightening prospect for anyone who values America’s national security and ability to promote stability and prosperity around the globe. We call on you to rescind it immediately.
American Family Voices
American Friends Service Committee
American Values Network
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Americans for Peace Now
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA
Brave New Films
Brooklyn For Peace
Campaign for America’s Future
Center for International Policy
Center of Concern
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Refugee & Immigration Ministries
Church World Service
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Desis Rising Up and Moving
Disciples Center for Public Witness
Disciples Home Missions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Division of Overseas Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Florida Council of Churches
Franciscan Action Network
Just Foreign Policy Military Religious Freedom Foundation
National Council of Jewish Women
National Immigration Law Center
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Pax Christi International
Pax Christi USA
Peace Action Bay Ridge
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Rachel Carson Council
South Asian Network (SAN)
Syrian Community Network
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
The New American Leaders Project
U.S. Labor Against the War
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Church of Christ
Veterans For Peace
Washington Defender Association
Western States Legal Foundation
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions