If you’re a polite-society Washingtonian, Lieutenant General Mike Flynn probably gives you pause. The retired former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency has been so unmuzzled in his critiques of America’s overseas strategy that critics have charged him with violating all-important Beltway decorum. ForeignPolicy.com declares that “no one else has combined Flynn’s rank and high-profile position at retirement, and the speed — once out of uniform — with which he began lambasting the policies of the administration he had just been serving.”
If you’re a neoconservative polemicist, however, Flynn finds all your sweet spots. Reportedly forced to leave the Obama administration for his outspokenness, he’s been a brash critic of the president ever since. He once characterized Obama’s approach to the Middle East as one of “willful ignorance” and said John Kerry was “out of touch with reality.” His criticism won him a puff piece in the Weekly Standard.
But something tells me Bill Kristol and company are going to be less pleased with Flynn’s most recent statements. Politico reports:
“When you drop a bomb from a drone … you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good,” said retired three-star general Michael Flynn, who ran the Defense Intelligence Agency from July 2012 through August 2014, in an interview with Al Jazeera English’s “Head to Head” set to air July 31.
Asked by Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan whether drone attacks radicalize more terrorists than they remove from the battlefield, Flynn responded: “I don’t disagree with that.”
This is true and perfectly consistent with Flynn’s scorched-earth take on the Obama foreign policy. But it’s out of step with many neoconservatives, who view drones as a useful tool in the fight against terrorism.
And that’s nothing compared what Flynn said next:
Flynn also commented that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq “definitely put fuel on a fire” that led to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. “The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just … fuels the conflict.”
“[H]istory will not be kind to the decisions that were made certainly in 2003,” he added, calling the invasion of Iraq a “strategic mistake.”
Dear God, the man is an appeaser! An isolationist! He sounds just like that confounded Rand Paul! The Kentucky senator, you’ll recall, said that “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately.” Flynn, unlike Paul, isn’t imputing blame to a political persuasion, but he does acknowledge the role American weapons played in empowering ISIS. It’s nothing to scoff at. Among many other examples, ISIS was recently photographed near the eastern Syrian city of Hasakah using TOW anti-tank missiles that had been supplied to the “moderate” rebels by the United States.
Hawks threw a snit fit when Paul pointed that out. Maybe a decorated three-star general will have better luck?