Michael Flynn is back in the public eye again with the news that he’s struck a deal to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s investigation. Last January, as Flynn’s outsize role in the newly empowered Trump regime became apparent, I decided to learn more about him by reading his memoir The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies. I never completed the post or the book, but I did manage to save a number of passages on my Kindle. The one I found most disquieting reads:
Most Americans mistakenly believe that peace is the normal condition of mankind, while war is some weird aberration. Actually, it’s the other way around. Most of human history has to do with war, and preparations for the next one. But we Americans do not prepare for the next war, are invariably surprised when it erupts, and, since we did not take prudent steps when it would have been relatively simple to prevail, usually end up fighting on our enemies’ more difficult and costly terms. (Kindle lines 121-125)
When I mentioned, separately, to a couple of friends that Flynn sees war as normal, each reacted saying that there is something to it. That is, war has indeed been a regular feature of human history. Indeed if we go simply by the frequency with which wars have occurred throughout human history, an argument can be made that there is a certain “normalcy” to war. But I think this passage goes much further than just acknowledging the regularity with which we have faced war. Listen again. Flynn states that it is a mistake to “believe that peace is the normal condition of mankind, while war is some weird aberration. Actually, it’s the other way around.” Peace, in other words, is the “weird aberration” and war is “the normal condition of mankind”. This is an Orwellian character’s vision of human nature! It’s the kind of nihilist thinking that makes it possible to talk nonchalantly about war, as if it’s something routine, something to plan on as surely as a rising sun, something that as a national security assumption makes it easy to exclude the peaceful course of action in favor of the bellicose path.
Flynn describes a tough upbringing as one of 11 kids growing up in an impoverished household in Rhode Island.
I was one of those nasty tough kids, hell-bent on breaking rules for the adrenaline rush and hardwired just enough to not care about the consequences. This misguided mind-set and some serious and unlawful activity by me and two of my co-hoodlum teenage friends would eventually lead to my arrest. The charges warranted a very unpleasant night in “Socko”—the state boys reformatory—and a year of supervised probation. Saved!
By “Saved!”, he means this experience caused him to mend his ways; it was the turning point in a bad-kid-makes-good story. But now the last chapter is being written. Even if saved by a Trump pardon, the personal enrichment schemes in which Flynn got involved even while working in the White House already make clear that this is a bad-kid-makes-good-makes-bad-again story.