Three-star US Army general Michael Flynn has ruffled a lot of feathers since he was fired as head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014. He has led chants for Hillary Clinton to be “locked up,” dined with Russian president Vladimir Putin and been tacitly rebuked by the head of the joint chiefs of staff for his politicking.
Despite insisting earlier this year that he “could care less” about being offered a job by Donald Trump if the latter were to win the election, Flynn has been named national security adviser to the president-elect.
Flynn was initially rumored to be a candidate for the role of defense secretary under Trump, but that would have required senate approval and a congressional waiver (a former member of the military must be out of service for seven years before taking on a new government role; Flynn has been retired for just two). The national security advisor appointment puts Flynn in a position to influence Trump’s national security policies while side-stepping what could have been a bumpy approval process.
Wondering about his policy positions? Here are some quotes from Flynn himself.
When asked about Trump’s endorsement of the use of torture for interrogation purposes, he told Al Jazeera: “I am a believer in leaving as many options on the table right up until the last possible minute.”
Flynn hasn’t been shy in praising Turkey’s strongman president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. On election day he penned an op-ed lamenting the US media’s lack of “perspective” when “reporting the Erdoğan government’s crackdown on dissidents.” The piece amounted to a hatchet job on Erdoğan’s favorite scapegoat, Fethulla Gülen, a former imam living in exile in Pennsylvania:
“The stamp of terror is all over Mullah Gülen’s statements,” Flynn wrote. “Gülen’s vast global network has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network.”
Meanwhile, Flynn’s private intelligence consulting company, Flynn Intel Group, has taken “tens of thousands of dollars” from a Turkish client for “analysis on world affairs,” according to the Intercept. Flynn Intel Group is a registered lobbying group with a lobbyist on staff.
Among the upper echelons of Washington, Trump’s zeal for Vladimir Putin is matched perhaps only by Flynn’s. A semi-regular commentator on Russia’s state-owned propaganda network RT, Flynn pointedly has avoided criticizing Russia’s backing of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad or the Kremlin’s attacks on US-backed rebels in Syria in December 2015. Instead, he shared the conciliatory attitude Trump favors towards Moscow:
“When we play this sort of bully game against each other, between the United States and Russia, that’s going to achieve nothing. It’s going to achieve actually more conflict, so we really have to figure out a way to work together,” he said on Dec. 10, 2015.
In a lengthy Washington Post Q&A this summer, he hinted this collaboration might mean backing down on criticisms of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and defended his paid appearances on RT by comparing the channel to CNN:
WaPo: Why would you go on RT, they’re state run?
Flynn: Well, what’s CNN?
WaPo: Well, it’s not run by the state. You’re rolling your eyes.
Flynn: Well, what’s MSNBC? I mean, come on …
All of Flynn’s other positions are in keeping with the mission to defeat the most common target of Flynn’s ire: Islam. In the Post interview, he repeatedly called Islam an “ideology based on a religion,” rather than a religion in its own right. While revealing, this was one of his less alarming utterances on the subject.
In a book co-authored with Michael Ledeen, he claims “radical Islamists” are trying to create “an Islamic state right here at home…a totalitarian state under the dictates of the most rigid version of Sharia.”
What’s more, without “a proper sense of urgency,” we will be “very likely destroyed,” by Islamic militants. The man who now has the president-elect’s ear on security issues concluded there is “no doubt that they are dead set on taking us over and drinking our blood.”