The new tough men of Washington
- We are in a world war but very few Americans recognize it. (Page 2)
- This administration has forbidden us from describing our enemies properly and clearly: They are Radical Islamists. (Page 3)
- We cannot afford to be gulled by foreign countries that publicly declare their friendship but then work with our enemies. (Page 9)
- The world badly needs an Islamic Reformation and we should not be surprised if violence is involved. (Page 10)
- How to win? By bringing a direct challenge to the regimes that support our enemies, weakening them at a minimum and bringing them down whenever possible. (Page 113)
These are excerpts from “The Field of Fight: How We Can We Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies” by Mike Flynn, who is due to be appointed as President-elect Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor. The book, which was published only four months ago, may be a guide to the foreign policy of the Trump administration.
There are other eye-catching sections. In one, he writes that “America and Russia could find mutual ground fighting Radical Islamists, but there is no reason to believe Putin would welcome cooperation with us. Quite the contrary, in fact.” (Page 174). These are the parameters of the new Trump administration’s foreign policy regarding the region.
Too harsh? We have never heard such sentiments from the Obama administration. Flynn’s kind of discourse even exceeds the neo-cons of the previous Bush administration. In fact, it is a brand new concept very different from the neo-cons. It is one that even foresees cooperating with Russia, a country that Washington has long considered an enemy.
Flynn is not the sole tough guy though. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will be Trump’s Attorney General, while Kansas representative Mike Pompeo will head the Central Intelligence Agency under Trump.
Over the course of the July 15 coup attempt, Pompeo tweeted that President Erdoğan was a totalitarian Islamist dictator. That is actually in line with the language used in Flynn’s book.
Last week, I asked Sessions, who was speaking to the press at Trump Tower on Nov. 9, 2016, about how he evaluates relations with Turkey in the new term. He replied diplomatically. “Turkey is in an important part of the world. So we look forward to expanding our historically good relations with Turkey, keeping it on track and making it better.”
“Keeping on track” and “getting better,” what does that mean? To answer, consider what Sessions said on Fox News on Aug. 21: “Turkey seems to be sliding to a more Islamist ideology. That is very dangerous. I hope it does not continue. This administration has not been able to do anything to stop that slide. So that causes a problem. Turkey has been a great ally. Having Turkey move in the wrong direction is really problematic. We need to continue the good relationship that we’ve had for many decades.”
The reason I quoted the above is because Flynn and this team constitute Trump’s new national security team, which is bad news for Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. But it also means that the worldview that this team embarks on heralds a problematic period between Turkey and the U.S.
It looks like President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will focus on the personal relations he aims to develop with Trump. Indeed, I have learned that he wants to meet in person with Trump in December in New York without waiting for Barack Obama to hand over the presidency in January.
I am not sure how the relations between the two leaders will affect the stance of the Trump administration in the fight against “radical Islam.” It is not too difficult to foresee the burden that Ankara will have, bearing in mind Flynn’s view of Islamists and his recognition of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas as “terrorists.”
It is crucial to read the new administration correctly. It is wrong to portray them as if they will be in accordance with everything Ankara wishes and challenge the Gülenists. It is wrong to suggest there will be a consensus on every matter between Turkey and the U.S.
The Trump administration looks unpredictable and will not run on a traditionally hawkish foreign policy. Trump has previously said the invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Gadhafi in Libya were wrong. But his administration will still be tough - tougher than the Obama administration.
Washington now has very different dynamics. There is a different game plan, a different tone and, most importantly, different methods in this new era.