As the world watches the strengthening of global jihadist movements – from ISIS to al Qaeda to dozens of affiliated and like-minded groups – one of those inside the U.S. government who was most vocal about the growing threats is leaving his position. General Michael Flynn served as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency from July 2012 until last week. Throughout his tenure he challenged the Obama administration’s hopeful and inaccurate narrative about the war against al Qaeda and jihadists – pushback that doubtless contributed to his early departure from the agency.
Flynn isn’t leaving quietly. In a fascinating interview with James Kitfield of Breaking Defense, Flynn makes clear his deep, strong and enduring differences with the Obama administration.
For years, the Obama administration has pointed to its success in killing al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan as evidence that the United States is winning the war on terror. Flynn rejects this without qualification and notes that there was a “political component” to those claims.
When bin Laden was killed “there was a sense that maybe this threat would go away. We all had those hopes, including me. But I also remembered my many years in Afghanistan and Iraq [fighting insurgents]…We kept decapitating the leadership of these groups, and more leaders would just appear from the ranks to take their place. That’s when I realized that decapitation alone was a failed strategy.”
When Kitfield asked whether Flynn felt “like a lone voice in the administration warning that the terrorist threat was growing, not receding,” Flynn acknowledged that he did and took a direct shot at one of the central claims of Obama’s 2012 campaign. “So when asked if the terrorists were on the run, we couldn’t respond with any answer but ‘no.’ When asked if the terrorists were defeated, we had to say ‘no.’ Anyone who answers ‘yes’ to either of those questions either doesn’t know what they are talking about, they are misinformed, or they are flat out lying.”
Flynn didn’t say which descriptor best fits the president.
The entire interview, particularly in light of the news every day, is worth a read.