The Flynn Resignation: A Win for the Mullahs?


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With the dust still settling from Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s sudden resignation after only 24 days as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, it may still be too early to reconstruct how it evolved. But pieces of the puzzle now available support a credible viewpoint.

These pieces suggest Flynn’s resignation was a carefully orchestrated effort designed to protect reputations, preserve a presidential legacy and extract revenge. But, surprisingly, it is what may be lost in the process that received no attention. As such, the media again fail to act responsibly about a U.S. national security issue. Sadly, while those involved have extracted their pound of flesh from Flynn, they may also have made Iran’s mullahs the clear winners in the imbroglio.

It is important to recognize what the evidence shows and does not show.

It will show an alternative government at work: a team of anti-Trump players assembled under the auspices of President Barack Obama, including senior officials from the Department of Justice, the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, self-avowed media con-artist Ben Rhodes, some Democratic Party members and others. It will reveal criminal laws broken by at least one “senior U.S. government official.” It will reveal an intelligence community going public with information about Flynn – a private U.S. citizen inadvertently caught up in a legal intelligence intercept operation whose identity, by law, was to be shielded. It will likely show, if the transcript of Flynn’s conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak is ever released, that no collaboration or other ill intent was involved simply because that information would also have been leaked.

The evidence will ultimately show that the intelligence community betrayed Flynn – who said it was broken and needed fixing – by discrediting him, even it meant breaking the law. One liberal news source concluded that Flynn was taken down by the Obama intelligence community because it was important to discredit members of an administration Obama fears may go public with embarrassing details of his nuclear deal with Iran.

But while evidence will establish the facts surrounding Flynn’s resignation in the months ahead, there will remain factors unrealized until much later. These are factors which Flynn, no longer national security adviser, will be unable to positively influence. If the initiatives he started are not defended, Iran wins.

Thus, one victim of the anti-Trump team’s political efforts to scuttle the new administration, sacrificing our national security interests in the process, may prove to be Flynn’s plan, raised with Congress in June 2015, to create a NATO-like Sunni Arab coalition to challenge an increasingly aggressive Iran. Having enjoyed eight years of U.S. apathy in the face of their growing aggression, Tehran’s mullahs are continuing to expand their efforts to establish a regional Shiite caliphate. Whether Flynn’s replacement, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, remains committed to that goal remains to be seen.

When Obama’s response to Iran’s aggression was to encourage worried Middle East nations to “share the neighborhood,” they realized they must confront the rogue state with a multinational and united front. A coalition, similar to the Saudi-led 34-nation counter-terrorism group, was envisioned.

Iran’s half-a-million man military, now gaining combat experience in Syria, presents a major challenge to the Sunni Muslim nations in the region. Though the Egyptian army alone is numerically superior to that of Iran, an alliance of Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia would provide a truly formidable force with which to contain Iran.

The coalition also would have U.S. assets available to it in the form of equipment, intelligence and training – but no boots on the ground except for training and occasional special operations. Israel shares similar concerns about Iran, so it undoubtedly would assist the Arab coalition by sharing intelligence and targeting.

Such a coalition would meet President Trump’s call for our allies to pay their way and to share risks on ground, at sea and in the air. A large unified force on their horizon will also cause the mullahs to reconsider risking their military and proxy forces in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere. Adopting a “Three Musketeer” mentality of “All for one and one for all,” a well-trained and effective coalition would surely moderate Iran’s aggression and regional terrorism.

Obviously, forming such a coalition will require resolution of certain issues, particularly with Israel involved. While Egypt and Jordan have peace treaties with Israel and would be open to a partnership arrangement, other coalition members will come to the table with reservations and perhaps conditions. However, the Middle East suffers from “Islamism on steroids” as demonstrated by both ISIS and Iran, so survival of nations opposed to such ideologies depends on their banding together. Never before has the existence of moderate Muslim nations in the region been more threatened. Existential threats can make the seemingly insurmountable, surmountable.

Such a coalition is in America’s national interest, so we must resolve those few issues that concern would-be coalition members. These include JASTA, a law passed last year by Congress aimed at suing Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts for alleged complicity in the 9/11 tragedies. Reasonable at first glance, it is apparent the law abrogates the principle of sovereign immunity and has already caused the U.S. to be sued in foreign courts. Another, and a most appropriate demand, may be that the U.S. designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

Coalition cooperation may also require the U.S. back away from supporting further Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories and pause moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Another major piece on the chessboard that may come into play is how to handle the one-sided nuclear deal with Iran. Unfortunately, those Americans who seek to preserve the Obama legacy at any cost, and deny President Trump the opportunity to jumpstart his fledgling administration, ignore the damage they are doing to our national security.

If we fail to breathe life into an Arab coalition, we give Iran’s mullahs every reason to believe that Allah is on their side.

A version of this piece also appeared on    

Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of "Bare Feet, Iron Will--Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran--The Clock is Ticking." He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.

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