by Jim Lobe
Skepticism about Michael Flynn’s fitness for the position of national security adviser appears to be growing as more media outlets are paying closer attention to his (and his son’s) core beliefs about the world. Such scrutiny also appears to be more relevant since President-elect Trump may be relying more heavily on Flynn than on the CIA or other government intelligence agencies for his own assessment of world events. That’s a big reason why this site has been focusing so much on Flynn in recent weeks.
A major source in exploring Flynn’s thinking is, of course, the book he co-authored with veteran “false news” fabricator Michael Ledeen, The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, which was published less than six months ago. Several posts have already featured quotes from the book on a variety of subjects—from Flynn’s obvious Islamophobia (here and here) to his various misconceptions (to be charitable) about Syria’s alleged nuclear-weapons program. After reading the book, I’m persuaded that Ledeen wrote at least a major part of it. One three-page passage about the alleged connections between the grand mufti of Jerusalem and both Hitler and the Soviet Union is lifted verbatim from a 2015 Ledeen blog post. Nonetheless, Flynn no doubt approved the final product, so it’s entirely appropriate to attribute the words and thoughts and “facts” that appear on the book’s pages to him. Indeed, Flynn is the book’s only narrator. Although Ledeen is listed as a co-author, the narrator is “I,” meaning Flynn.
Given the important role Flynn is clearly playing as a key source of “intelligence” for Trump, publishing more excerpts from the book to flesh out in greater detail what “facts” he thinks are indeed true should help inform the public discussion surrounding the future of foreign policy under Trump. Just as Flynn may have Trump’s ear, Ledeen, a conspiracy-monger of the first order—in 2003, for example, he argued that France and Germany had “struck a deal with radical Islam and with radical Arabs” in order to defeat U.S. hegemony—may have Flynn’s. This is a truly terrifying thought, as is the prospect of John Bolton as deputy secretary of state. My comments are in brackets. Most of the following excerpts are taken from the third chapter, entitled “The Enemy Alliance.”
The Enemy Alliance and Iran As “Linchpin”
[Radical Islamists] are not alone, and are allied with countries and groups who, though not religious fanatics, share their hatred of the West, particularly the United States and Israel. Those allies include North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba, and Venezuela.
If, as PC apologists tell us, there is no objective basis for members of one culture to criticize another, then it is very hard to see—and forbidden to write about or say—the existence of an international alliance of evil countries and movements that is working to destroy us.
Yet, the alliance exists, and we’ve already dithered for many years.
The war is on. We face a working coalition that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. We are under attack, not only from nation-states directly, but also from al Qaeda, Hezbollah, ISIS, and countless other terrorist groups. Suffice to say, the same sort of cooperation binds together jihadis, Communists, and garden-variety tyrants.
… Iran is the linchpin of the alliance, its centerpiece.
[This passage is the only time Bolivia and Nicaragua are mentioned in the entire book, so there is no elaboration as to their alleged role.]
The mullahs have already established strategic alliances in our own hemisphere with Cuba and Venezuela, and are working closely with Russia and China…
[The book provides no specific evidence of the nature of the “strategic alliances” with Cuba, Venezuela, or China.]
It is hard to imagine that there are no Hezbollah terrorist groups inside this country.
[No evidence is provided to support the speculation.]
Al Qaeda (and Iran)
Khomeini and his successors have been true to their words, seeking to export the Iranian Revolution, and attack their enemies—the Jews, the infidels, and (mostly Sunni) Muslims who do not accept their doctrine—all over the world. Shortly after the revolution Iranian-supported “pilgrims” on the Hajj in Mecca occupied the Grand Mosque, took several hundred hostages, and called for the overthrow of the ruling Saudi royal family, and the end of all ties to the West.
[By all accounts, Wahhabi extremists carried out the occupation of the Grand Mosque]
[W]e knew that al Qaeda had attacked us directly, in 1993, in the first attempt to bring down the World Trade Center in New York City. Federal investigators had established working connections between al Qaeda and the commander of the operation, the “blind sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman. We also knew of close operational cooperation with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian jihadi organization that had been at the center of the assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat.
[My impression is that al-Qaeda’s alleged involvement, if any, remains unclear, but Sadat’s assassination was carried out by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a radical group that broke with the Muslim Brotherhood over the latter’s commitment to non-violence. The Brotherhood publicly denounced the assassination.]
As a matter of fact, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards [sic], which were originally created by Khomeini as his own personal praetorian guard, and subsequently used for crucial tasks of domestic repression and foreign terrorism, were trained and organized in the early 1970s by Yasser Arafat’s (Sunni) Fatah.
[Flynn repeatedly refers to the “Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution,” or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as the “Iranian Revolutionary Guards.” “Iran” or “Iranian” is nowhere mentioned in its official title. Apart from that (fairly common) misnomer, the IRGC wasn’t created until after the 1979 revolution, so it would have been very difficult, to say the least, for Fatah to have “trained,” let alone “organized” it nine years before it came into being. Some individual members of what eventually became the IRGC were trained in Lebanon, which in 1970 had become a “mecca” of sorts for armed, radical, and mostly anti-imperialist groups, from Europe as well as the Third World.]
The most dramatic example of Sunni-Shi’ite cooperation is Iran’s close relationship with Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. The 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa—for which al-Qaeda took credit—were in large part Iranian operations.
[While one federal district court judge, in a case in which Iran did not take part, found that Iran, Hezbollah, and Sudan played a role in preparing al-Qaeda for the attacks, the State Department has always put the blame on al-Qaeda exclusively, while the arrest warrants put out by the FBI have included only known al-Qaeda militants.]
Obama is Very Bad
To be sure, an Iranian bomb would be an existential threat to Israel, but so is a nonnuclear Iran, which is the mainstay of the anti-Israel terrorist groups, above all, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. To focus solely on the nuclear question is a serious failure of strategic vision; the issue is the regime in Tehran and their [sic] radical version of Islam, whatever its progress may be toward atomic bombs.
Obama has done his damnedest to forge alliances with Hugo Chavez, before his death, the Castro brothers, and Ali Khamenei, but they and their cronies have all responded by redoubling their efforts to defeat us.
[“Alliances” is a very strong word to use under the circumstances, but the question that goes begging is how exactly did Chavez or Maduro or the Castro brothers “redouble their efforts to defeat us?” Or is this just rhetoric of the kind that Trump will take seriously?]
Putin himself waged a bloody battle against Radical Islamists in Chechnya, and they, too, had links to Iran.
[This assertion almost certainly derives from a 2005 article in The Telegraph by Con Coughlin, notorious for highly questionable anti-Iran stories over many years. What’s interesting in this case is that the Jamestown Foundation, on whose board sits Flynn’s deputy-to-be, KT McFarland, issued a report at the time casting doubt on the story. Regional specialists have dismissed any connection between Iran and the Chechen rebels.]
The Russians and Iranians have more in common than a shared enemy. There is also a shared contempt for democracy and an agreement—by all members of the enemy alliance—that dictatorship is a superior way to run a country, an empire, or a caliphate. There are certainly differences between the religious and secular tyrannies—the importance of Sharia law to the jihadis is perhaps the most significant—but both seek, and fight for, an all-powerful leader.
Saddam and al-Qaeda, Iran and Zarqawi
Saddam made a basic change in his foreign policy in the summer of 1986, when the Iraqi Politburo (Pan-Arab Command) decided to support foreign “religious currents.”
This led to Iraqi support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, for the radical regime of Hassan al-Turabi in Sudan, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and eventually for al Qaeda.
[So Flynn buys into the theory that Saddam supported al-Qaeda.]
From our interrogations conducted during our operations, we learned that for a short period in the spring of 2003, Zarqawi was “detained” by Iran and then subsequently released. While there is little information as to why they detained him, one can only speculate that Iran likely worked with and advised Zarqawi on his future plans for taking over Iraq.
[Speculation without specific evidence is problematic for an intelligence professional.]
The Grand Mufti, Nazis, Communists, Khomeini = Totalitarianism
Thus, religious fanatics and secular tyrants work quite well together, transcending even deep ideological divides. The most dramatic example comes from the infamous case of the grand mufti of Jerusalem in the 1930s and 1940s, Amin al-Husseini, and his efforts to forge an operational relationship between Nazi Germany and his own Muslim Brotherhood.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu catalyzed the discussion of the historical origins of contemporary Islamist anti-Semitism in European Nazi and fascist regimes in the last century, which has produced some useful and thoughtful contributions, but in the process an important part of the story has gone lost. It’s the part of the story that deals with Husseini’s ties to Soviet Communism. …[I]n the case of Husseini, and indeed of jihadism more generally, any serious discussion must make room for the Communists.…
[T]he Brotherhood’s Palestinian leader learned a great deal about politics from the Kremlin, and he worked very closely with the Communists throughout his career. It wasn’t just the Nazis who inspired him; he was a true student of twentieth-century totalitarianism, and he created a toxic poison of Nazi fascism—and its concrete application—and Soviet Communism. Both elements were later central to the Ayatollah Khomeini, who similarly combined German-style anti-Semitism with Soviet methods of organizing revolution. As Husseini worked with the Palestinian Communist Party to acquire and maintain power, so Khomeini worked with the Iranian Communist Party—Tudeh—to overthrow the shah and create the Islamist tyranny we see today.
…(A)s in the case of Husseini, it is a mistake to look at Muslim tyrants as Middle Eastern versions of a specific Western dictatorship. They are attracted to, and inspired by, earlier totalitarian regimes.
Keep your eyes on that word ‘totalitarian.’ That is the key concept.
[All of the above passage is taken verbatim from a 2015 Ledeen blog post on PJ Media. Has Flynn drunk the Kool-Aid or did he just tell the Ledeen, “Whatever you say, Mike?”]
This also helps clarify the nature of the global alliance we face. The countries and movements that are trying to destroy us have worldviews that may seem to be in violent conflict with one another. But they are united by their hatred of the democratic West and their conviction that dictatorship is superior. So while it may appear that, say, there is little in common between Communist North Korea and radical Shi’ite Iran, or between the leaders of the radical Sunni Islamic State’s “caliphate” and the Iranians, in fact it is no more difficult for them to cooperate in the war against us than it was for Hitler and Stalin to cooperate in the 1930s and 1940s.