Donald Trump’s lunatic National Security Advisor solidifies the Russian connection.
It’s always nice when good things happen to good people. Not seeking and glory for himself, but just out of a sense of goodness, a kindly Russian named Vladimir Putin engaged in a campaign of unprecedented interference in the US elections, and not only did his chosen candidate win, but he appointed Putin’s dream candidate to the top national security position in the administration!
Sometimes, dreams can come true. If this was Upworthy, we could say The Autocratic Tyrant Who Sponsors and Profits From White Nationalist Movements Worldwide Decided To Get One Of His Own Elected As The Most Powerful Person In The World. You Won’t Believe What Happens Next.
And no, you probably won’t.
Donald Trump has offered the position of National Security Advisor to Michael Flynn. That, on its face, is terrifying, as Flynn is something of a loon, a wildly irresponsible Muslim-hating paranoiac who believes that al-Qaeda and ISIS are not just dangerous, but an actual existential threat to the United States, capable of destroying us: which of course, they are, but only if we decide to give in to the fear and hatred they want to sow, which, of course, we did, so: Flynn was right?
Anyway, the levels of suicide in which we engaged are one thing. Flynn’s connections to Russia, and more importantly to a Russian world, are another angle (though the two are connected). Flynn is a friend of Putin’s, insomuch that the latter can be assumed to have friends. They share the same ideas of Russian power: Russia should be able to do what it wants.
And what it wants are basically two things: to have sway over what it sees as its sphere of influence, and to weaken Europe and the US by helping to empower anti-immigration white nationalists and break the liberal democracy he sees as confining and decadent and hypocritical. To him, the war between Russia and the West isn’t over. The ideology doesn’t matter; that Russia is now a rightist state instead of a Communist empire is almost immaterial.
From a limited point of view, that’s ok. Or, rather, it makes sense. Of course he wants a strong country. Of course he wants Russia to be powerful. The way in which he chooses to do so is cruel and reckless and is making the lives of millions of people materially worse, but from his point of view, it makes sense. America’s duty was to protect the values of liberal democracy, and not empower people on the same wavelength as Putin, who have the same ideas of power politics.
Remember, Trump’s one coherent foreign policy belief in the campaign–because “beat ISIS with a plan” and “leadership winning” aren’t policies–was that we should get along with Russia by letting them to pretty much what they wanted. This isn’t a “live and let live” sort of thing; it was a foreign policy directly aligned with Putin’s belief. He wouldn’t be mae if we invaded Mexico. It’s our area. Europe is his. And the way to let everyone do what they want is to destroy liberal democracy and empower racist nationalism.
I wrote about this quite a bit in July, asking:
What if America had a President like this:
- Who was essentially incurious about the world?
- Who, insofar as he was interested, leaned toward strongmen and bullies?
- Whose native instincts were to pull back and not help anyone else except in the absolute narrowest definition of self-interest?
- Whose native instincts were inherently racist, and so hated any projects (the EU, immigration) that might foster integration?
- Who had a lifelong admiration for people who felt the same way?
- Who was incredibly susceptible to flattery by the powerful?
- Who felt that business and political power should be inherently intertwined?
- Who could be swayed by the riches of Russia?
Well, guess what: we’re about to! We’re entering a period where Trump sons are doing business in Russia while his son-in-law is avoiding nepotism laws to get a top position and where Trump’s national security adviser has two main beliefs: kill Muslims and listen to Putin. It’s a world where autocrats are rising (Erdogan, who is jailing journalists at an insane clip, might be the only Muslim these guys can work with: maybe Asad and Sisi, too). There’s a rising darkness, revolving around a new strange axis of the Kremlin and the White House.
(Update: top comment-man Diamond Mark Perrone remind us that Flynn is actually deeply involved with Erdogan’s Turkey through his lobbying group. He said he’ll quit, but his son will probably remain in charge, making him perfect for the Trump administration. Don’t sleep on his plans to extradite Fetullah Gülen, either. It’s a symbol of how authoritarians come together to protect each other, and a possible sign of how they’ll govern.)
In July I also wrote this. I think we’re about to see that it is much worse than I even imagined.
His melding of the personal and the political into a garish abattoir, a reality freak show, is the perfect expression of the 21st-century, and exactly how fascism would form in the here and now. His ideas of the world are a 21st-century reaction to the ills of modernity, of the dislocation, mixed with a lifetime of racism and self-aggrandizement. He’s extremely dangerous on his own. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t also being played, being manipulated by people with a larger game, who recognize that he can be a useful clown. Trump, with his snarling ridiculousness, is the perfect American counterpart for the growing anti-Europe axis: the fool who thinks he is the king.