The hysteria and ignorance on display by the Washington Post is truly remarkable when it comes to attacking Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. Flynn is now on the hot seat, at least as the media sees it, for talking to Russia’s Ambassador in December about a variety of issues, including, perhaps, the sanctions that Obama imposed in early December:
National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said.
Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.
Other’s in the Fake News community have followed suit and are insisting that Flynn did something illegal (they are thinking of the Logan Act) and was torpedoing the policies of Barack Obama. This is ridiculous. Flynn was well within his right to talk about any issues with the Russian Ambassador, including sanctions. Does anyone want to argue that the incoming President should not try to find out what the Russians are thinking about the harsh rhetoric coming out of Washington? Flynn, as Trump’s National Security Advisor, is exactly the person who should be telling the Russians about Donald Trump’s thinking with respect to the bilateral relationship with Moscow. None of this constitutes a violation of the Logan Act.
What about lying to the Press about such discussions? That is stupid on the part of Flynn. If he was having such talks his response to the press should have been, “No Comment.” This was handled very clumsily by Flynn and the Trump team. No argument there.
There is no crime in talking to Russian officials unless you have access to classified information and are passing that information to the Russians.
I am not a fan, per se, of Michael Flynn. Yes, I have written on his behalf giving him great credit for backing his DIA analysts who refused to cook the intelligence on the alleged sarin gas attack in Syria in August 2013. That was a good moment for him.
The bad part about Flynn (and the one the media ought to focus on) is his extreme views on Iran and his apparent belief that there is no significant difference between Sunni and Shia Islam. Phil Giraldi has written an outstanding piece on this. Here are some key highlights:
Donald Trump’s national-security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, “officially” put Iran “on notice” while declaring that “The Trump Administration will no longer tolerate Iran’s provocations that threaten our interests. The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over.”
Ignoring the fact that Iran cannot actually threaten the United States or any genuine vital national interests, the warning and follow-up action from the White House also contradict Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to avoid yet another war in the Middle East, which appears to have escaped Flynn’s notice. The increase in tension and the lack of any diplomatic dialogue mean that an actual shooting war might now be a “false flag,” false intelligence report, or accidental naval encounter away.
If it all sounds like a reprise of the baseless allegations and intentionally unproductive negotiations that led to the catastrophic Iraq War, it should. What “belligerent actions against the United States” Flynn was referring to, generally speaking, were not completely clear, but that lack of precision may have been intentional, to permit instant vilification of anything Tehran attempts to do to counter the hostility coming out of Washington.
If you have not read Phil’s full piece you should and I encourage you to do so. Trump is making a major mistake in demonizing Iran. We should understand that any military confrontation with Iran short of using nuclear weapons, will entangle our country in a war that will escalate and bleed us dry. We do not have the military force in the region nor the logistics supply chain intact to prosecute and win a conventional war with Iran. Moreover, Iran has the ability to inflict significant damage on our Air assets and on U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. Saber rattling about Iran is an insane policy and will not achieve anything that will enhance the security of the United States or Israel. And it is Israel and its security that is the sub-text of this policy.
My fundamental point is that there are plenty of substantive issues where Michael Flynn is making bad decisions (e.g., Yemen, Iran) and should be taken to task. Fixating on his appropriate discussions with a Russian diplomat is trivial and unimportant. Remains to be seen if the media will ever wake up and do its job.