For several years, the national-security community has been wondering what the hell happened to Michael Flynn. Once a well-regarded director of the Defense Intelligence Agency for the Obama administration, Flynn appeared, according to his critics, to snap. He grew paranoid and obsessed with expanding a war against radical Islam into a Manichaean civilizational conflict. The rest (his work for Donald Trump, a handful of federal crimes) is history.
Flynn has written an op-ed, headlined “Forces of Evil Want to Steal Our Freedom in the Dark of Night, But God Stands With Us,” that resolves the question.
If you haven’t heard of Western Journal, don’t feel bad. I haven’t either, and I work in opinion journalism professionally. Presumably, Flynn shopped his column to several outlets before WJ (as its readers call it, probably) agreed to run it.
How to judge this op-ed? It is difficult to evaluate without knowing whether Flynn’s objective was to advance a policy agenda or to help his legal team plant an insanity defense. On the plus side, his prose is — well, distinctive. And his argument is difficult to rebut.
On the negative side, his main contention regarding the forces of evil and their alleged goals of stealing freedom is lacking in concrete evidence. The column is easier to understand if you read it in the voice of Colonel Jack D. Ripper, the deranged right-wing general in Dr. Strangelove. If I had edited the column, I would have urged Flynn to periodically address the reader as “Mandrake.”
A few passages give the Ripper-esque flavor of his analysis:
Once again, tyranny and treachery are in our midst, and although we feel we’ve descended into a hellish state of existence, we must never forget, hell is conquerable.
The idea or notion of a heaven on Earth is the very real sense of being free. Freedom is oxygen. Like the air we breathe that keeps our lungs full and our hearts beating, the celestial feeling of freedom brings a sense of peace to our souls.
As long as we accept God in the lifeblood of our nation, we will be OK. If we don’t, we will face a hellish existence.
God willing, we will prevail in peace and freedom from fear and in true health through the purity and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all.
Wait, sorry; that last bit is from Dr. Strangelove. The rest are real Flynn quotes, though.
The Ripper character is defined by his superficially responsible and accomplished mien, which gradually reveals a military man who has been driven into dangerous monomaniacal aggression by right-wing paranoia. This is an almost eerily perfect description of Flynn. Except Flynn, unlike Ripper, is also a crook.