Life is full of surprises. Like that time you were counting on a new bike for Christmas, and were totally certain your parents were going to come through, and then – lo and behold! – on Christmas morning there it was: a spanking brand-new Segway! The final evidence that, despite your best efforts, you’d always be a nerdy little dork. (And yes, a pocket calculator turned up in your stocking,)
That’s just what happened to #TheResistance this holiday season. For months they’ve been salivating heavily in anticipation of the turning of Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor now charged with lying to the FBI. Flynn has admitted doing so on at least two occasions, both involving his answers to questions about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kisylak. During the transition – after Trump’s election but before he took office – Flynn was talking to the Russians about two subjects: the possible blowback from the Obama administration’s decision to impose more sanctions and close the Russian compound in Maryland, and the Russian position on the controversial UN resolution condemning Israel for building yet more “settlements” on Palestinian land.
The incoming Trump team was “intensely focused on improving relations with Moscow and was willing to intervene to pursue that goal,” as the New York Times phrased it, even as the war cries in the Democratic party got louder and demagogues like Adam Schiff waved the bloody shirt of Russia-gate. That took balls: and here’s another instance where the alleged non-interventionists ensconced in the world of thinktanks and academia fail to give the Trump people the credit that is their due.
Think about it, folks: both the US and the Russians possess enough nuclear firepower to destroy all life on earth several times over. This sword of Damocles is hanging over us by a thread, just as it loomed large during the last cold war with Moscow. It’s a machinery of annihilation that is set on hair-trigger alert, and any number of events could unleash it: a miscalculation, a foolish bluff, a misunderstanding, a technical glitch, a showdown similar to the Cuban missile crisis. All that stands between us and utter extinction is the hope that this apparatus of death can be restrained by mutual agreement. Bravo to the Trump administration for making peace a priority. If this is now a crime, and even “treason,” as the mouth-breathers of #TheResistance would have it, well then let the Washington Inquisition make the most of it.
I feel obligated to repeat my admonition of the various Beltway careerists who light up the small firmament of anti-interventionism: why no defense of the White House on this vitally important issue?
Given the scope of a special counsel’s powers, and the wide berth he is given to pursue possible violations to the law far removed from his original mandate, perhaps we should have expected that some other foreign connection would come to light. Flynn was instructed by none other than Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, to approach “every member of the Security Council” to block the resolution condemning the seizure of Palestinian property. The Russians were directly contacted by Flynn, who asked them to veto the resolution in the Security Council.
Flynn’s unsuccessful efforts on behalf of the Israelis were the fruit of an Israeli appeal to the incoming Trump administration. The day after Flynn’s conversation with the Russian ambassador on this subject an anonymous Israeli official told CNN “that Israel – and reportedly the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, himself – had contacted Trump to seek his assistance in killing the resolution.”
As special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe continues, the full extent of the covert Israeli effort to undermine what was then US policy will come to light, and this may prove to be the most revealing aspect of the whole affair.
What’s interesting is that an Israeli official would come right out and brazenly boast of having turned to the Trump team to stop the resolution:
“The official – in comments that may come back to haunt the White House – said that Israel had ‘implored the [Obama] White House not to go ahead and told them that if they did, we would have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump.
“‘We did reach out to the president-elect,’ the official added, ‘and are deeply appreciative that he weighed in, which was not a simple thing to do.’”
By inserting that information into the public record, the legal case against both Flynn and possibly other figures in the Trump administration is considerably strengthened. Which makes one wonder: did the Israelis deliberately burn Trump?
Yes, I’m indulging in pure speculation, and yet why would an Israeli official openly discuss such a delicate matter? Even as the outgoing Obama-bots were setting the trap for Flynn – an effort Tel Aviv may well have been privy to – the Israelis were letting the world know that they had the Americans in their pocket.
This is more grist for Mueller’s mill: aside from that, Kushner has financial and political links to Israel, and these are now likely coming under the special counsel’s scrutiny. One can now see what direction this investigation may be taking us: Instead of revealing collusion between the Trump team and the Russians, the Flynn indictment exposed Kushner’s collusion with Israel.
Has Russia-gate morphed into Israel-gate?
If this is, indeed, the direction Mueller is taking, then this development is certain to end the fondest hopes of #TheResistance. Because it’s highly unlikely any public official, no matter how compromised, is going to be prosecuted for collusion with the Israelis and/or their American lobby. The last time US law enforcement tried that was back in 2009, in the Larry Franklin spy scandal, in which two employees of AIPAC, the powerful Israeli lobby, were prosecuted for procuring vital secrets from National Security Council analyst Larry Franklin. That case was dropped because pursuing it would have revealed yet more secrets.
That was a case of outright espionage: “collusion” is a far different – and much vaguer – matter. In any event, the fact is that after what seems like years of accusations, not a single iota of actual evidence has corroborated the charge that the Trump campaign plotted with Putin to deprive Hillary Clinton of her divine right of succession to the Oval Office. The foundational myth upon which the Mueller investigation rests – the idea that Russia was behind the WikiLeaks email dump – was never real to begin with: the Mueller probe, therefore, once launched, branched out into a more general look at foreign influence on the incoming administration. Which could and should mean that half of Washington will soon be lawyering up.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.