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The Left Needs to Assess the Implications of the Flynn Scandal

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Many so-called progressives are stoked that Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned charges surrounding his discussions with a Russian ambassador while Trump was president-elect.

Congressional Democrats want to use this to go after Trump. Rep. Nancy Pelosi: “After Flynn resignation, FBI must accelerate its investigation of the Trump Administration’s Russian connection.”

Even before Flynn’s resignation, Rep. Maxine Waters did a segment on “Democracy Now:” “Trump Should Be Impeached If He Colluded with Russians Ahead of Election.”

There are certainly reasons to want to see Flynn go — he recently put Iran “on notice” while the White House tried to gin up the case against Iran.

And there are obvious reasons to try to impeach Trump that don’t require congress people to qualify them with an “if” — his violations of the “emoluments clauses.”

But it’s perhaps easier, more “nationalistic” and ultimately horrifying for “progressives” and others with an alleged interest in peace to be harping on the Russian angle.

The Clinton campaign repeated that time and again during the campaign — with disastrous results. Clinton talked about Russia and Trump talked about jobs in the rust belt. Guess who won the presidency?

Many so-called progressives are in effect making an alliance with the most war-mongering parts of the U.S. establishment. They are in effect buttressing incredibly dubious notions of U.S. victimology and demonizing official enemies that increase U.S. militarism and the likelihood for confrontation with the other nation on the planet that could destroy the planet a hundred times over.

Trump had just reportedly turned down Elliott Abrams‘ bid to be number two at the State Department. That was a good thing. Elliott Abrams was part of the Iran-Contra scandal and needed a Christmas Eve pardon from George H.W. Bush. He backed death squads in Central America. He then did a stint in the George W. Bush administration in charge of “democracy promotion” and was almost certainly behind still unaccountable horrors by Israel and in Iraq and elsewhere.

But he somehow gets depicted as “reasonable” by many. In fact, just as the major media were closing in on Flynn, Elliott Abrams appeared on CNN, saying he thought Steve Bannon was behind him not getting the job. Damn that crazy Bannon for apparently blocking a certifiable war criminal.

Trump won the presidency in large part because he was a Republican who could with minimal credibility talk about being against the “establishment.” I didn’t buy it, but lots of people did. He won an election that I doubt many in the vast Republican field could have. Trump talked about non-intervention, he talked about preserving Social Security and Medicare.

One upshot of the Flynn resignation is that Vice President Mike Pence, a white “Christian” nationalist, who is also is a darling of both Wall Street and the “neo con” interventionists comes out smelling like roses. Trump is a twisted narcissist who is a political opportunist. But Pence is likely what a lot of people claim Trump is.

Flynn was compelled to resign in large part because what is euphemistically called the “intelligence community” apparently had recording of his dealings with Russian representatives that he allegedly mischaracterized.

This implies that people will be held accountable for their falsehoods if — and only if — their stance upsets the CIA, NSA, et al.

It’s worth keeping in mind that when Trump seem to challenge this part of the permanent government in January, leading Democrat Chuck Schumer said Trump was “really dumb” for attacking the intelligence agencies. Said Schumer: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

And what else did we just see happening as Flynn was resigning? Steven Mnuchin, from the good folks at Goldman Sachs was confirmed as Treasury Secretary. The case against Mnuchin is so massive and his Wall Street / Goldman Sachs / Soros / foreclosure king / Skull and Bones pedigree is so not “populist” that it’s quite remarkable that he was able to get through.

Virtually all the Democrats in the Senate did not vote against Mnuchin. But they all knew that that wouldn’t stop him. Schumer got to put out some populist rhetoric, conveniently ignoring his own deep ties to Wall Street.

Four of Schumer’s top funders through his political career are in insurance and finance: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Credit Suisse Group. Heck, he even took money from Mnuchin himself.

Wall Street and other corporate interests are quite firmly in control of the Democrats in Congress and Trump has put them in power in his cabinet. Part of the twisted dynamic is that the populist / nationalist wing of the Trump administration would disappear were he to disappear as Flynn has.

Trump is an obvious con artist and is not to be trusted. I’d bet his attempts at a detente with Russia have to do with profiteering — or worse, with trying to go after China or such. But the crit to date bares more resemblance to the Republican obsession with Benghazi than with an attempt to meaningfully try to change U.S. agressions around the world.

But any meaningful critique of Trump can’t possibly be one that demonizes the other major nuclear power, especially given the litany of U.S. illegal aggression around the world, including it’s provocations against Russia — such as violating promises and expanding NATO to Russia’s boarder. Besides, Putin makes U.S. allies like israel and Saudi Arabia look like idyllic democratic wonderlands.

If only all these liberals scrutinized presidents when they want to go to war like they do Trump when he wants to make peace with Putin.

A version of this piece ran in The Progressive.

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Sam Husseini is founder of the website VotePact.org

CounterPunch Magazine

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