Andrew C. McCarthy:
One of the first great media riffs to define the Trump administration before it even takes power blares from the news pages of today’s Wall Street Journal. The paper outlines an “intraparty split over Russia — which pits GOP lawmakers like Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham against [President-elect Donald] Trump and his national security adviser designate, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.” The “disagreement,” we’re told, is “over a basic question: How much danger does President Vladimir Putin’s Russia pose to the U.S.?”
Correspondent Paul Sonne’s report elaborates that Senator McCain’s faction “believes Mr. Putin poses a grave threat to the U.S. by undermining democratic values, flouting rules of the international order and countering American influence around the world.” On the opposite side, we are led to believe, is General Flynn. According to the report, Flynn sees Putin’s regime “as a necessary ally in the graver global conflict with Islamist extremism and a potential partner more broadly.”
The report’s sole example pegging Flynn as part of a coterie of Trump “policy makers who have pushed for closer ties with the Kremlin” is a “Russian government-sponsored trip to Moscow for an anniversary of RT, a state-sponsored television network,” which the retired general took in December 2015.
That’s an awfully thin reed on which to hang an extravagant theory . . . especially when one considers that seven months later — in July 2016, while General Flynn was on the campaign trail as a top Trump adviser — he published a bestselling book in which he places Putin’s Russia at the core of “an international alliance of evil countries and movements that is working to destroy” the United States.
The book, unmentioned in the WSJ report, is The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies. It is co-authored with Michael Ledeen, the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former Reagan State Department adviser (and a close friend of yours truly). A distinguished historian, Dr. Ledeen has written for decades on the strategies and tactics of totalitarian governments (very much including the Soviet Union and KGB, from which Putin emerged) and their propensity to align with jihadist regimes and movements. As The Field of Fight elucidates, a particular concern of Ledeen’s, which Flynn shares, is the bond between Putin’s Russia and the Shiite jihadist regime in Iran.
Flynn and Ledeen correctly point out that Putin has a good deal to fear from radical Islamic groups operating within the Russian Federation. Indeed, Putin himself has dealt brutally with them, most notoriously in Beslan in 2004. These jihadist groups are predominantly Sunni, with al-Qaeda affiliations and a high degree of participation in the jihad against the Iran-backed Assad regime in Syria. Iran has nevertheless backed them — as it has historically backed Sunni Hamas, al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda in Iraq, an offshoot Tehran nurtured as it evolved into the Islamic State (ISIS).
Yet, Flynn and Ledeen write, “the Russian air force and Iranian foot soldiers are fighting side by side in Syria. Somehow, Russian antipathy toward radical Islam does not prevent the Kremlin from constructing all the Iranian nuclear power plants[.]”
Flynn goes on:
Putin has done a lot for the Khamenei regime. Russian involvement in Persian affairs goes back centuries, and I have pointed out that there are very close working relations between the two countries, the most spectacular example being the Iranian nuclear program. The nuclear reactor at Bushehr is a Russian product, as will be the next two reactors. Iran has contracted for billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment, as well as very good Russian antiaircraft missiles, the infamous S-300s. Finally, there is no denying the fact that the two are fighting side by side in Syria trying to save the regime of their mutual ally, Bashar al-Assad.
So why, if jihadism is a threat to Putin, would the Russian strongman align with the world’s leading state sponsor of that jihadism? Flynn’s explanation of “this superficially unlikely partnership” is anti-Americanism:
In part, it’s the old nostrum: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Putin has declared the United States (and NATO generally) to be a national security threat to Russia, and “Death to America” is the official chant of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both the Putinists and the radical Iranian Muslims agree on the identity of their main enemy. Hence, one part of the answer is surely that their alliance is simply the logical outgrowth of their hostility toward America.
In fact, the antipathy is even more fundamental, according to Flynn. “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.”
That is perfectly consistent with the views of Senators McCain and Graham. They see Putin as an anti-democratic, KGB-bred totalitarian with revanchist ambitions, who is backing America’s principal enemy Iran, is largely responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and has made significant inroads in the Middle East by exploiting President Obama’s abdication of American leadership.
Flynn, it is worth adding, stresses that “those seeking freedom in Muslim countries invariably call out to us for support, knowing that American traditions and values and, eventually, American leadership is their only chance to gain liberty.” He is virtually singing from the McCain-Graham hymnal.
What Putin has learned, that Obama, McCain and Graham have not yet learned is based on a bit of advice once shared between Al qaeda world leader and his al Qaeda Iraq leader years ago:
We Can Kill Them Later.
Al qaeda Iraq was going for Islamic purity as well as killing Americans and their allies.
Al qaeda world insisted, only kill the Americans and their fighting allies.
Later, when we’ve won all that, then we can clean Islam’s apostates out.
Russia has aligned with Hezbollah, even some Russian fighters wearing their patches on their uniforms.
But Hezbollah, were it to “win” and spread into Russia, would do another Beslin to kill Russian children.
So, this is a temporary alliance until Islamic State is destroyed.
Russia hopes to strengthen secular/multi-religious-tolerating rulerships in the ME.
Like Assad, the late Saddam, the late Ghaddafi, etc.
Russia will go against any pro-caliphate group when the time is right.
If I were making the decisions, based on what I know. I would ally with Russia to end the muslim threat to the world. Then I would worry about the Russian threat (which is not very real at the moment compared to muslim threat) Europe had better ally with someone against the muslims or Europe is not going to exist much longer.
Guy walked into a bar and saw Trump and Cruz sitting at the bar.
He walked over to the bartender and asked” Is that really Trump and Cruz sitting there”
Indeed it is said the barkeep
Then he walked over and said: What an honor! what are you two guys talking about?
Cruz said We’re talking about starting World War III.
What? What you planning to do?
Trump said: “We’re going to kill 140 million Muslims and one blonde with big tits”
He asked: “Why are you going to kill the blonde with big tits?”
Trump turned to Cruz and said: ” See, I told you no one gave a crap about 140 million muslims”.
Note: If you liberals need an interpretation, let me know.