Red pilled General? The strange odyssey of Michael Flynn

As terrifying a prospect as it is, it isn’t inconceivable that General Flynn may come to have political ambitions of his own in the years ahead.

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With the person or persons known as ‘Q’ having gone silent in December of last year and the enigmatic figure’s likely (probably second)  alter ego revealed as a manipulative child of privilege rather than a rebellious deep state operative as advertised, one would think that his followers would have lost faith by now. Instead, as one after another Q prophecy has failed and ‘the Storm’ never materialized, the ‘movement’ has expanded both internationally and into communities that one would normally think of as opposed to each other, like Christian fundamentalists and New Age ‘wellness’ groups

This is even more remarkable considering that most mainstream social media companies and streaming services have taken down the major accounts associated with Qanon this year, forcing followers to seek out other irrational or just plain gullible people on relatively obscure alternatives like Telegram and BitChute.

Although there are still those who think that the former U.S. president will be reinstalled on the 13th of this month,  a partial explanation for QAnon’s resilience may stem from the fact that many of its adherents, while often maintaining their core beliefs, have moved on to new conspiracies, including a suicidal drive to avoid vaccination for the novel coronavirus in the name of ‘freedom’.

Perhaps the most mainstream Q adjacent person at present is the disgraced former head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who was pardoned by former President Trump on November 25th of last year after first pleading guilty to the charge of lying to the FBI, at first cooperating with the Mueller investigation in the hope of a lighter sentence. He then rescinded his plea after securing representation from lawyer Sidney Powell, who has also coyly seemed to endorse Qanon conspiracies in the wake of Trump’s loss to Joe Biden.

Many on the left, including this writer, felt that the Mueller investigation’s singular focus on the ties some involved in the Trump campaign seemed to have to Russians ignored financial and other links to a number of governments that might have been more easily proven. While Flynn, who should have known the Russian ambassador’s communications were being monitored considering his background, lied about a call he made to Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 transition, it’s hard to believe that an incoming official at his level wouldn’t make contact with representatives of other governments when preparing to take office.

The reported purpose of Flynn’s call and similar ones to other then security council members Uruguay and Malaysia, was to ask for help by having them “delay or defeat” a vote at the UN condemning Israeli settlements, which the Obama administration had decided not to use its veto power against.  It’s also been widely reported, including in the article cited above, that Jared Kushner had asked the short-lived National Security Adviser to make the calls.

These calls, while problematic in terms of interfering with the then president’s foreign policy (as Obama was attempting a rare rebuke of the Netanyahu government after that country’s leader made a partisan speech to the US Congress), might have had Israel’s many American defenders leaping to his defense during any other transition. In truth, Flynn seemed to have a much deeper ties through his lobbying work with Flynn Intel Group to Turkey’s Islamist government than he did to the Russian Federation.

The first time the former 3 star general publicly seemed to affirm some connection to QAnon was on the 4th of July last year, when he appeared in a video where he and members of his family repeated the group’s slogan, “Where we go one, we go all” after reciting the U.S. oath of office. 

More recently, at a conference held at Omni Hotel in Dallas called the “For God & Country Patriot Roundup” in late May, Flynn hedged just a little after being asked about Q, telling Youtube streamer Andrew Callahan, “If they create this boogeyman right? Create this boogeyman that’s a nice little thing to keep beating us about. They try to take an organization like this and create that level of noise that I talked about. QAnon, QAnon, they’re the domestic… they’re the new… They’re the new shiny object! I don’t know what QAnon is. Really don’t! I really don’t but I’m going to leave here saying, well… Do you believe in God?” 

One reason the disgraced general may have made the transition to making appeals to the most radical part of Donald Trump’s base might be one of the world’s oldest: his legal troubles left him at least $5 million dollars in debt.

While his very public disgrace probably made lucrative speaking engagements before more conventional audiences and the kind of lobbying work he was doing after leaving the military unlikely, Flynn already often seemed a little unhinged in public appearances, famously leading a chant of “Lock her up!” directed at Hillary Clinton during a speech at the 2016 Republican convention.

He was also known for failing to distinguish between ordinary Muslims and the most extreme versions of theocratic Islamism, once saying, “We are facing another ‘ism’, just like we faced Nazism, and Fascism, and imperialism and communism. This is Islamism, it is a vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people on this planet and it has to be excised.” 

This kind of genocidal thinking surely played a role in his failures at the DIA, a leadership post he was fired from after two years by then President Obama in August, 2014. 

Besides Clinton and Obama, General Flynn made other powerful enemies, among them the former vice president, Joe Biden. Now president, Biden was accused by Trump and some of his supporters during the 2020 campaign of arranging for the ‘unmasking’ of Flynn in his conversations with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, information that was then leaked to the Washington Post.  Biden and other officials did in fact request the unmasking and received the information according to recently released documents.

Still, there is evidence of animosity between Flynn and Biden long before 2016 that comes out of reporting done in 2010 by the late Michael Hastings in Rolling Stone and his book “The Operators”, where the general’s former boss, Stanley McChrystal, who was then running the U.S. war in Afghanistan and others around him insulted Biden on the record. This and other revelations from Hasting’s reporting resulted in MyChrystal, who was close to Flynn, being recalled to Washington and fired.

Interestingly, some in the QAnon movement put forward Flynn as ‘Q’ in the past, an intriguing idea when one considers his stint leading the DIA. In reality, the former general doesn’t need to publicly claim any real affiliation with the group to appeal to its followers, who have long seen him as a straight talking ‘patriot’. In this context he may be even more popular with the far right than Donald Trump. When you add his military background to this it’s possible he might also appeal to more mainstream conservatives and even ‘neocon’ ‘Never Trumpers’. As terrifying a prospect as it is, it isn’t inconceivable that General Flynn may come to have political ambitions of his own in the years ahead.

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