Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed – after being paid as its agent

McClatchy reports: One of the Trump administration’s first decisions about the fight against the Islamic State was made by Michael Flynn weeks before he was fired – and it conformed to the wishes of Turkey, whose interests, unbeknownst to anyone in Washington, he’d been paid more than $500,000 to represent.

The decision came 10 days before Donald Trump had been sworn in as president, in a conversation with President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, who had explained the Pentagon’s plan to retake the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa with Syrian Kurdish forces whom the Pentagon considered the U.S.’s most effective military partners. Obama’s national security team had decided to ask for Trump’s sign-off, since the plan would all but certainly be executed after Trump had become president.

Flynn didn’t hesitate. According to timelines distributed by members of Congress in the weeks since, Flynn told Rice to hold off, a move that would delay the military operation for months.

If Flynn explained his answer, that’s not recorded, and it’s not known whether he consulted anyone else on the transition team before rendering his verdict. But his position was consistent with the wishes of Turkey, which had long opposed the United States partnering with the Kurdish forces – and which was his undeclared client. [Continue reading…]

To refer to Flynn’s representation of Turkish interests as being “unbeknownst to anyone in Washington,” seems a bit premature. Trump’s unwillingness to fire Flynn, rather than being an expression of loyalty — not something Trump is famous for — may be an indication that whenever Flynn finally tells his own story, it’s going to destroy Trump.

So far, Trump’s ties to Flynn have largely been portrayed as an error in judgement. The real story, however, may reveal Trump’s complicity in Flynn’s corruption — that Flynn was far more transparent than we thus far know and that Trump and Pence with the hubris of victors thought they were immune from facing any repercussions.

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  1. In support of this general line, it’s worth noting that the currently ascendant psychologization of Trump as an overgrown, unpleasant child robs him of agency. Attributing to him the ability to plan and pursue large-scale interests in anything like the standard adult fashion is then dismissed as a form of conspiracy theory. This is, of course, grossly incompatible with his level of success.

    If we put the pop-psych aside, and think of him instead as a kind of entrepreneur ambitious to work on the grand scale, it becomes quite plausible that Trump and his associates actually put together a broad if sketchy plan of action involving political and (especially) financial relations with Russia and pro-Russian factions in post-Soviet statelets, extending in various ways to the Middle East. Flynn would be the linchpin of the operation. From Trump’s point of view, this would be a mutually beneficial business partnership with the Russians and the others, the farthest thing from treason or playing the puppet, ‘fixing’ historical problems, which (indeed) he alone could accomplish, because of his unique connections, skills, and freedom from dogma. This is then “Trump’s complicity in Flynn’s corruption” and it would follow that “Flynn was far more transparent than we thus far know” because they were working together on a joint project.

  2. Paul Woodward says:

    I agree that a lot of commentators have got carried away with this glib narrative of Trump as the impulsive child who is out of control. Pathologizing his behavior does indeed let him off the hook and veer towards casting him as a tragic figure who deserves pity.

    As for his plan of action, I’d place emphasis on the adjective “sketchy.” It seems like Trump relies on his minions to work out the details, allowing him to take credit for successes and blame others for failures. He seems to be an absolute, 100% pure, unadulterated opportunist — and a magnet for other opportunists, such as Flynn.

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