A Potential Time Bomb with Michael Flynn


editorialcartoonBy Edmond Y. Azadian

On November 8, America reached the end of one of its ugliest presidential campaigns in recent history, the outcome of which stunned the world and perhaps even surprised Donald Trump himself, since the polls were predicting a certain though narrow victory for Hillary Clinton.

Now, during the transition period, President-Elect Trump’s foes and friends alike are realigning as the body world politic prepares to deal with an unpredictable world leader.

Throughout the campaign, Armenians were confused since neither candidate offered much; Hillary Clinton demonstrated her insensitivity to Armenian issues (both during the signing of the Protocols in Zurich in 2009 as well as her visit to Yerevan in 2010) while Donald Trump did not even bother to address the issues.

Now, together with the rest of the world, as American citizens we need to accept the verdict of the voting public and pay due respect to the new president, who polls indicated, garnered the votes of 70 percent of white men with no college education.

We need also to take our cue from politicians who came running to his door to pledge their allegiance after the election, something that was far from their minds a few months ago. There are two particularly notable cases. First is House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had never hidden his contempt for candidate Trump. All of a sudden, he announced that Donald Trump had “heard a voice that nobody had heard before him.”

Next, former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, in the throes of blissful amnesia, met with the president-elect for a “substantive talk,” leaving behind his vitriolic attack on Trump only the previous month, when he had encouraged voters not to support Trump, calling his ideas “ridiculous” and “dangerous.” And for that reversal of position, he has been rewarded by being placed on the short list of contenders for the position of secretary of state.

World leaders are lining up to extend their congratulations and seek Trump’s good graces. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was one of the first foreign dignitaries to have a cordial meeting with him at the president-elect’s Trump Tower residence, despite recent strained relations between the two nations. Europe has already experienced right-wing populism and is just recovering from its effects, therefore is well equipped to deal with Trumpism in America.

It may sound ironic that even President Assad of Syria announced during a recent interview with a Portuguese journalist that President Trump may become a “natural ally” if he implements his pledge to fight terrorism.

Nations in Eastern Europe are confounded because of Mr. Trump’s promise to improve relations with Russia while on the other hand redefining NATO’s role in Europe. There is even talk of Trump recognizing the annexation of Crimea by Russia.

Since Armenia is one of the 193 members of the United Nations and one of the smallest ones at that, the president-elect certainly has not even bothered to designate a policy toward it. However, Armenia’s international fortunes have been suffering because it is considered a satellite of Russia. Therefore, pain inflicted on Armenia politically or economically falls within the realm of containing Russia. Consequently, if there is a relaxation of relations between the two countries, the result will definitely benefit Armenia.

On the other hand, some of Mr. Trump’s appointments must worry Armenians, and also all American citizens because those include racists and xenophobes. His choices, as well as his policy statements, have shaken the Republican establishment.

How the incoming Trump cabinet is being shaped is described by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times: “Early signs of what Trump administration may look like: A man associated with white supremacy and misogyny will be the White House chief strategist; a man rejected for judgeship because of alleged racism will be attorney general; and an Islamophobe who has taken money from Moscow [and Ankara] will be national security advisor.”

The allegation of racism is directed at Sen. Jeff Sessions. However, a piece in the Corner by Mark Krikorian vouches for the opposite: “There is no one in the country better qualified to be attorney general than Jeff Sessions. His probity and rectitude are beyond question.”

We have not found yet any similar support for Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a retired (fired) intelligence officer, whom Trump has tapped as his national security advisor. On the contrary, there are alarming facts about his character and conduct in the above article: “Indeed, for an intelligence officer, Flynn seems to have trouble distinguishing truth from falsehood … when he was in the government, subordinates had a special name for his delusions: ‘Flynn Facts.’”

Especially worrying are Mr. Flynn’s foreign connections which should concern every American, as Mr. Kristof continues, “Another problem is Mr. Flynn’s ties to foreign governments. He took money from Russia to attend an event in Moscow, siting near President Vladimir Putin. He also appears to have taken money from Turkish interest and without publicly disclosing the money, wrote an op-ed shilling for Turkey.”

That article appeared in November 8, Election Day, under the title “Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support.” In his commentary, Flynn advocates that as Turkey has been fighting ISIS, it deserves our support and also that the US should deport Fetullah Gulen to Turkey.

This seems to be one of the delusions of Mr. Flynn. Either he is unaware that Turkey has been arming, training and harboring ISIS terrorists, or he is selling out US policy for a pittance. In either case, he proves he is dangerously unqualified for the position.

As a national security advisor to the president, he will hold a very sensitive position. Even if Mr. Trump makes good on his pledge to improve relations with Moscow, the Turkey factor will always pop up and Mr. Flynn, being beholden to Turkish interests, may play a very dangerous role. Also, following the ongoing tradition, after a mandated period, he may resume his role as a lobbyist for Turkey and cash in for his services rendered during his White House tenure.

Donald Trump will be our president by the will of the people. He is entitled to have time to implement his policies and he deserves our respect for that.

The president-elect would do a good service to his country to give a hard look at his choice before his final appointment.

Otherwise, he will be planting a time bomb in his office.