America Is Closer to World War 3 as Michael Flynn Resigns as National Security Advisor
On what must have been a stormy February 13 evening in the White House, President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn resigned. This is a troubling development that brings the world closer to World War 3. Flynn was to play a key role in improving relations between Russia and the United States.
Russia is a nuclear superpower and World War 3 can never be lifted from the calculus of U.S.–Russia relations. Flynn’s resignation-worthy violation, by his own admission, was to have “inadvertently” given inaccurate information to vice president Mike Pence about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. (Source: “Read the resignation letter of national security advisor Michael Flynn,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2017.)
Never mind the allegations of the favors Hillary Clinton granted to Saudi Arabia. The mainstream media has had a grand old time with the Flynn resignation because it involves Russia. Americans—and many other westerners—have been brainwashed into considering Russia as an enemy. It used to be Republicans like Senator McCain who trumpeted the anti-Russia propaganda.
In the second Barack Obama term, the Democrats took over that role with aplomb. They also made a right mess of the situation in Syria. Obama was right not to intervene, but he was wrong by isolating Putin while tacitly encouraging the Saudis. Had he not done so, Trump would not have won the presidency and America would not be closer to WW3.
Apparently, President Trump knew about the allegations before. It was none other than Sally Yates who communicated to them to Trump collaborators. Yates happens to be the interim attorney who challenged Trump’s entry restrictions for nationals of seven countries last week. Why, then, you might ask, did the administration not take action before?
The reason is that the events that led to the resignation of Flynn are complex. Trump was probably undecided whether to continue rewarding Flynn (the first major military figure to back Trump) or demand Flynn’s resignation. Yet the trouble is just getting started, and the risk is that it could lead up to the next major conflict: WW3.
Pushed for Answers, Trump Could Make a Drastic Turn in Foreign Policy
Republican and Democratic members on both Houses of Congress will demand answers. There are many Republicans who never backed Trump. The Flynn case, or “Flynngate,” is their call to action. The episode should not be discounted. It will throw the White House in disarray. In Watergate, there were tapes; in Flynngate, there are transcripts of the offending conversations.
Those transcripts are said to prove that Flynn discussed the sanctions with the Russians. But more than that, the situation suggests that within the Trump administration, there is disarray and too much competition. (Source: “Upheaval is now standard operating inside the White House,” The Washington Post, February 13, 2017.)
This makes White House insiders prone to clashes. Flynn was the gatekeeper for all major foreign policy and defense procedures. Trump might react to the criticism—which he doesn’t take well—by overturning his initial foreign policy inclinations. If I were Vladimir Putin, I would be worried now.
Trump will not sacrifice his presidency in the interests of better relations with Russia. There is bipartisan anti-Russian sentiment in U.S. Congress, and the media—especially the left-leaning media—has been fueling it. Trump might find it useful to turn the screws on Russia. He could impose tighter sanctions, accusing Putin of direct interference in American affairs.
Trump would make Flynn the scapegoat and accuse Flynn of having deceived him. The proof will be in Trump’s choice to replace Flynn as national security advisor. Some of the names being suggested have not hidden their concerns about Russia. It’s doubtful they are advocates for World War 3, but they are not advocates for a passive stance either.
Moreover, Trump has a chance to make his foreign policy more coherent by changing his current detente inclination toward Putin. By letting go of that stance, it would make his threats against Iran more credible. Targeting Iran and scrapping the nuclear deal has been a key Trump goal, but Russia got in the way.
Targeting Russia Makes Syria, Iran, or Yemen Ideal Trigger Points for WW3
Russia and Iran have cooperated closely in various matters since at least the 1990s. They have been fighting ISIS together in Syria, sharing the purpose of keeping Bashar al-Assad’s secular regime in power. Fighting ISIS is a key goal for Trump. Once liberated from Russian constraint, Trump could attack Syria itself as Obama wanted to do in September 2013.
In so doing, he would run into Russian air and naval forces deployed in Syria. Meanwhile, an American vessel might be attacked by an Iranian gunboat or military support vessel heading for Yemen, where the U.S. is backing Iran’s enemy, Saudi Arabia, in an under-reported bloody conflict. Iran might respond with more attacks in the Persian Gulf.
Iran might even respond in Iraq, putting pressure on that country’s Shiite-dominated army and government to challenge America. Thus the triggers for a World War 3 episode, stemming directly from the Flynn resignation, are hardly far-fetched. They are all too real. And let’s not forget that there is still a conflict in Ukraine pitting pro-Russia forces against pro-NATO ones.
The international situation is delicate. Without Flynn, who was so close to President Putin himself, as to sit beside him at a New Year’s Eve gala on December 31, 2015 in Moscow, has set off a foreign policy avalanche. One of the reasons that many Americans were concerned about Hillary Clinton was precisely her rabid anti-Russia stance.
Flynn’s departure may also weaken the shadow presence of Trump advisor Steve Bannon. Like Bannon, Flynn believes the greatest threat to America is Islamic fundamentalism. He believed, like many keen observers of the Middle East, that the policy of weakening Assad—as Obama was doing and Hillary would have pursued even more—would increase dangers to U.S. interests.
The concern was that Hillary Clinton would obstruct Russia’s plans to sustain Assad in power. Clinton would have been tougher on Moscow than Obama was, generating the very scenarios described above. Trump now finds himself in this position. But he’s angry and carries the spirit of vengeance for a betrayal, and his chance to make history.
Nothing unites America more than a war. Flynn may have pushed Trump to start WW3 in order to preserve the keys to the White House. Should Trump merely cool relations with Moscow over this incident, he will leave himself open to media questions and Congressional scrutiny. These are the sorts of processes that lead to impeachments.
For the time being, the post of national security advisor has been temporarily entrusted to former army general Keith Kellogg, a close associate of Flynn. But it is unlikely he will stay, because he’s too close to Flynn. Vice Admiral Robert Harward, close to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, could be called to the post.
But there’s also General David Petraeus. He was involved in a complicated and extramarital affair-loaded scandal (that should not bother Trump too much) but he has expressed concerns about Russia in the past. Petraeus worries that Russia is working hard to raise anti-NATO sentiment in Europe and that Putin threatens democracy. But now we have ended up with the threat of WW3.