There could only be a few, if any, US Army generals with such deep and extensive knowledge of operational intelligence and special operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as Michael Flynn, who retired as the director of the Defence Intelligence Agency [DIA] just one year ago. Originally assigned to the famous 82nd Airborne Division, his was a career almost entirely dedicated to military intelligence and special operations.
Added to that, Gen. Flynn has a well-earned reputation of being an iconoclast.Remember hisextraordinary report of January 2010 on the colossal failings of the hydra-headed US intelligence community in Afghanistan?
All of which, indeed, makes his interview with Al Jazeera last week regarding the US’ fight against the Islamic State very riveting. Let me put down the key points Gen. Flynn made:
- The war in Iraq was a mistake; it led to the rise of the Islamic State.
- The US should be held accountable for what happened. History is not going to be kind.
- The “entire system” is guilty of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- The drone attacks have been a ghastly mistake, as they created more terrorists.
- Something is wrong with the US’ policies and strategies insofar as the US invested more in conflicts and not in finding solutions to conflicts. That is why terrorism is proliferating.
- President Barack Obama should have a different approach — although there are people in the US who believe in “perpetuating conflicts for rest of time”.
Of course, the stunning part of the interview was his frank admission that as far back as 2012, the US administration knew about the ascendance of the Islamic State [IS] in Syria, but it was a “willful decision” by the White House to use it to further the ‘regime change’ agenda in that country.
Gen. Lynn was associated with an internal DIA study that was recently released, which shows that the Obama administration knew that the actions of “the West, Gulf countries and Turkey” in Syria would create a virulently extremist group like the IS.
He said he had studied a DIA memo in 2012, which predicted the West’s backing of the IS and was based on very clear intelligence. When the interviewer asked him whether the Obama administration turned a “blind eye” to his analysis, this was Gen. Flynn’s chilling reply:
- “I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was willful decision… It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing”.
He said he had argued against the US sponsoring foreign militants in Syria, but of no avail. The reason was that the US and its allies were sponsoring terrorists to put pressure on the Syrian government.
Ironically, the US now claims that the IS may pose a threat to Afghanistan and the top US commander Gen. John Campbell went on record recently that Obama’s pledge to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by end-2016 might not be the final word on the subject.
The specious plea being advanced by Washington currently is that the US wants to turn Afghanistan into a regional hub to wage a war against the IS — a war by the US and its partners, which, in the opinion of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, could last not less than a generation.
This Dempsey guy is a smart general, isn’t it? It was under his watch that the IS was finessed and deployed as the instrument of US regional policy to overthrow the established government in Syria and to force Baghdad to allow the return of American troops to Iraq – and now he pops up in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office in Kabul one fine day two weeks ago to make the proposition that Washington might need an open-ended military presence in Afghanistan for another 15-20 years to wage the global war against the IS.
It will take another Gen Flynn to tell us another time circa 2025 that the IS that subsequently overthrew the established governments in Central Asia, bled white the regions of Xinjiang and North Caucasus and Kashmir, destroyed the Pakistani state and led to that country’s disintegration, and kept Iran bogged down in the sheer preservation of its plural society (which is an ethnic mosaic) was actually incubated in the American military bases in Afghanistan. Gen Flynn’s interview is here.