Out like Flynn


I’m on record being consistently concerned by and opposed to Donald Trump and people in his circles playing footsie with Putin and being soft on Russia. As such, I can’t but be happy that the National Security Adviser Mike Flynn is out of his job almost before he even started – though I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say it would be nice to know the actual, as opposed to speculative, extent of his contacts with the Russians powers that be.

Having said that, I am somewhat troubled by the performance of American intelligence services, which seem to be more successful affecting outcomes at home than abroad, where their true remit lies. I’m not alone in my concern – as Damon Linker writes:

No matter what Flynn did, it is simply not the role of the deep state to target a man working in one of the political branches of the government by dishing to reporters about information it has gathered clandestinely. It is the role of elected members of Congress to conduct public investigations of alleged wrongdoing by public officials.

In some ways, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The public and popular culture reputation that the CIA and sister agencies gained as fierce right-wing warriors is a legacy of the New Left delusions of the 1960s and onwards, when the American spooks got accused of every bastardy under the sun, from assassinating a president to involvement in international drug trade. This socialist conspiracy-mongering, so successfully perpetuated by the Oliver Stones and Noam Chomskys of this world, has managed to obscure the fact that in reality the American espionage industry has historically been another bastion of the liberal East Coast establishment; anti-communist, to be sure, but so was most of that establishment throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s. As Charles McCarry, a CIA agent who went on to have a successful career as spy writer, once observed, in all his years of work at Langley he has never met a Republican (“They were, at least in the operations side where I was, there were wall-to-wall knee-jerk liberals. And they were befuddled that the left outside the agency regarded them as some sort of right-wing threat. Because they were the absolute opposite, in their own politics.”)

The CIA in 2017 might not be as liberal an institution as it was in 1967, but it is not, and never has been, a conservative one either, and like all the other government bureaucracies it leans statist and it leans centrist if not left. In light of this, it is not a surprise that at least some spooks are happy to moonlight as Democrat political hacks, even if at the same time they might be coincidentally – and rightfully – performing good service for America’s national interest.

The left is already throwing the accusations of “fascism” around like confetti, in part to give more meaning and excitement to their political struggles. I only hope that at the CIA headquarters people are not walking around at the moment fantasising they are this generation’s Admirals Canaris fighting a clandestine war from the inside against this generation’s Hitler.