President-elect Donald Trump has offered the influential post of national security adviser to his controversial campaign adviser, former general Michael Flynn, US media reported Trump officials as saying on Nov. 17. Highly respected as a decorated military intelligence officer helping combat insurgent networks in Afghanistan and Iraq, Flynn, 57, later generated widespread criticism for his strident backing of the Republican’s campaign.
He served as Trump’s leading adviser on national security issues during the campaign and was a highly visible surrogate, with a hardline stance on radical Islam.
It was not immediately clear whether Flynn had accepted the offer to become what many believe to be the country’s top national security official.
As national security adviser, he would provide one of the most influential voices on foreign policy as well as some of the most pressing security issues facing the country, including the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, China’s rising challenge in the South China Sea and elsewhere, and opposition from Russia.
His role would probably be even more influential than his predecessors’ thanks to Trump’s near-total lack of experience in national security matters. Flynn would serve as the administration’s main contact with the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies, overseeing a staff of around 400 people.
He left the military after President Barack Obama fired him from his post as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 following complaints about his leadership style.
He became a vocal critic of Obama’s, blaming his sacking on the administration’s unwillingness to listen to his warnings about the threat from radical Islam.
He prompted criticism for his view that Islamist militants pose global civilization an existential threat, saying the world has fallen into a struggle between “centrist nationalists” and “socialists,” The Washington Post reported.
Such views are close to those of Trump, who has called for banning all Muslim visitors to the United States and advocated that Muslims in the United States be registered, subjected to loyalty tests and even deported.
Such views, and others including his denunciation of the war in Iraq, have alienated many of his former military colleagues.
As Trump’s campaign adviser, Flynn led chants of “Lock her up!” against Hillary Clinton during campaign rallies and fired off numerous tweets excoriating the Democratic candidate. He apologized for one that appeared to be anti-Semitic.
Flynn’s refusal to reject Trump’s support for waterboarding and other torture against suspects, as well as his call to kill extremists’ family members have helped generate more opposition to his appointment.
He was also criticized for traveling to Moscow last year, when he sat next to RussianPresident Vladimir Putin at a gala for the state-run television propaganda channel RT, a trip for which he was paid, The Washington Post reported.
However, the controversy surrounding Flynn’s possible appointment may matter little to Trump because it would not require confirmation in the Senate, unlike other key cabinet posts.
Flynn had previously said the U.S. should not provide a safe haven for the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating the failed July 15 coup attempt.
“The forces of radical Islam derive their ideology from radical clerics like Gülen, who is running a scam. We should not provide him safe haven,” Flynn wrote for the Hill newspaper in a piece on Nov. 8.
“In this crisis, it is imperative that we remember who our real friends are,” he added.
“We must begin with understanding that Turkey is vital to U.S. interests. Turkey is really our strongest ally against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS], as well as a source of stability in the region. It provides badly needed cooperation with U.S. military operations,” he said.
Ankara accuses Gülen and his followers of organizing Turkey’s deadly coup attempt of July 15, during which parliament was bombed and soldiers attempted to assassinate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. More than 240 civilians died during the failed attempt after Erdoğan called on citizens to take to the streets to counter the attempt.