Trump Caves on Flynn’s Resignation
President Trump’s acceptance of National Security Advisor Flynn’s resignation marks Official Washington’s first big success in neutering Trump and killing hopes for a détente with Russia.
By Robert Parry
THE NEOCON-DOMINATED U.S. foreign policy establishment won an important victory in forcing the resignation of President Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn over a flimsy complaint that he had talked to the Russian ambassador during the transition.
The Washington Post, the neoconservatives’ media flagship, led the assault on Flynn, an unorthodox thinker who shared the neocons’ hostility toward Iran but broke with them in seeing no strategic reason to transform Russia into an implacable enemy.
After Flynn’s resignation on Monday evening, the Post gloated over its success in achieving the first major crack in Trump’s resistance to Official Washington’s establishment. The Post cited Flynn’s “potentially illegal contacts” with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a reference to the Logan Act, a 1799 never-enforced law that forbids private citizens from negotiating with a country in dispute with the U.S. government.
Though no one has ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act, it has been cited in recent decades as an excuse to attack American citizens who disagree with U.S. government policies while traveling abroad and having contacts with foreign leaders.
In other words, the Logan Act is usually used to bait, attack, or discredit peace advocates, similarly to how it has now been used to destroy Flynn for daring to look for ways to reduce the dangerous tensions between Washington and Moscow.
But the media-driven attacks on Flynn are particularly curious since he was the National Security Advisor-designate of an incoming administration at the time of the calls and — as such — he would be expected to make contacts with important foreign officials to begin laying the groundwork for relations with the new president.
Whether U.S. sanctions against Russia were mentioned or not, the notion that an elected president or his designees — during a transition — can have no meaningful contact with diplomats whom they may need to deal with in a matter of weeks represents a particularly contentious interpretation of a law that has never been tested in a court of law and may well represent an unconstitutional infringement on free speech and dissent.
An Expanding Hysteria
Indeed, referencing the Logan Act appears to be an excuse to continue — and expand — Official Washington’s hysteria over Russia, which has become the useful villain to blame for every U.S. foreign policy debacle and even Hillary Clinton’s disastrous presidential run.
Flynn’s more egregious offense in this case may have been to mislead Vice President Mike Pence on exactly what was discussed, but Trump’s White House has not seemed previously overly concerned with the precise accuracy of its statements. …
Flynn’s real “offense” appears to be that he favors détente with Russia rather than escalation of a new and dangerous Cold War. Trump’s idea of a rapprochement with Moscow — and a search for areas of cooperation and compromise — has been driving Official Washington’s foreign policy establishment crazy for months and the neocons, in particular, have been determined to block it.
Though Flynn has pandered to elements of the neocon movement with his own hysterical denunciations of Iran and Islam in general, he emerged as a key architect for Trump’s plans to seek a constructive relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, the neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks have invested heavily in making Putin the all-purpose bête noire to justify a major investment in new military hardware and in pricey propaganda operations.
The neocons and liberal hawks also hated Flynn because — as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency — he oversaw a prescient 2012 analysis that foresaw that their support for the Syrian insurgency would give rise to “a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria.”
The DIA report, which was partially declassified in a lawsuit over the 2012 killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other U.S. personnel in Benghazi, Libya, embarrassed the advocates for an escalation of the war in Syria and the ouster of secular President Bashar al-Assad.
Flynn even went further in a 2015 interview when he said the intelligence was “very clear” that the Obama administration made a “willful decision” to back these jihadists in league with Middle East allies, a choice that looked particularly stupid when Islamic State militants started beheading American hostages and capturing cities in Iraq.
A Beloved ‘Regime Change’
But “regime change” in Syria was dear to the neocons’ hearts. After all, Israeli leaders had declared Assad’s removal central to smashing the so-called “Shiite crescent” reaching from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut.
The neocons and liberal hawks had come very close to getting the direct U.S. military intervention that they so wanted to destroy Assad’s army after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. The Obama administration quickly pinned the atrocity on Assad even though a number of U.S. intelligence analysts suspected a “false flag” attack carried out by jihadists. …
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Source: Consortium News