Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn’s military career seems pretty standard for a man of his age and rank. He served in Grenada and Haiti in the 1980s, rising through the ranks as an army intelligence officer, and was a top adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama appointed him to head the Defense Intelligence Agency in July 2012, where he served for two years before retiring in April 2014.
But a lot can happen in two years. Since leaving the military, Flynn has mainly distinguished himself by cozying up to right-wing leaders, preaching Islamophobia and entangling himself with questionable clients through his consulting firm.
So, of course, Donald Trump wants him to be his National Security Advisor—an extremely powerful post which puts him directly at the heart of American foreign and defense policy. There are several very big problems with this.
To begin with, Flynn’s post-military career as a consultant and lobbyist has created several troubling conflicts of interest. Politico reported that a company tied to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan hired Flynn’s company to lobby on behalf of Turkish interests. And he once spoke at a gala dinner in Moscow hosted by RT, the English-language propaganda broadcaster of the Russian government.
But the real problems emerge with the general’s views on Islam. Flynn has become very fond of speaking about Islam in apocalyptic terms. His book Field of Flight says that the U.S. is in a “world war” against Islam, and during a July interview with The Intercept, he clarified that he thinks “Islam is a political ideology masked behind a religion.”
Flynn did not always feel this way. A Washington Post article on his early retirement notes he published an article in 2010 that criticized the country’s spy agencies for failing to help military and diplomatic leaders understand the issues motivating Afghan insurgents. Now, he seems less concerned with anything beyond the term he frequently accuses others of being afraid to say, “Radical Islamic terrorists.”
And let’s not forget the tweets. Such tweets! How could we forget the tweets.
Flynn appears to have studied how to use the social network from his son, Michael Flynn Jr., who also serves as the former general’s chief of staff. Flynn’s social media presence is a stew of open racism and blatantly false conspiracy theories.
During the GOP primary, he linked to stories accusing Sen. Marco Rubio of being “a very extroverted homosexual” and going to “coke houses,” as though Rubio could possibly be that interesting.
The elder Flynn must have been taking notes. During the primary, he retweeted an anti-semitic conspiracy theory accusing “Jews” of trying to change the campaign narrative.
He later walked back the claim (without ever denouncing it), saying he tweeted the wrong thing. Isn’t social media fun?