Less than 12 hours after an explosive device detonated in Chelsea, I was on the phone with General Michael Flynn, the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency who is now advising Donald Trump on national security matters. We spoke as he was walking the streets of NYC surveying the damage. Clearly disturbed by what had happened there, he shared his resolve to identify our enemy for what and who it is.
While Mayor de Blasio had declared what happened in Chelsea simply an “intentional act,” General Flynn has no doubt about the intent of the explosion and what it represents: “Of course it’s an act of terrorism,” he said. He pointed out that when the Mayor says there is no credible evidence of a terrorist attack, it is, in General Flynn’s opinion, “a disservice to the people of New York. They have all kinds of credible evidence. What they didn’t have is any specific threat that there would be a bomb in the Chelsea area of NYC. We’ve got to be much more honest with the American people. The American people are not stupid.”
Flynn was in the city Saturday night when an explosive had gone off in the Manhattan neighborhood. He told me he feels it is imperative we understand why this is happening. He said, “The American people want to know if our leadership is taking this threat as seriously as they should. I don’t see it. I really don’t see it.
“I’m actually fed up with it to be honest with you. I know that in my years of service going after this enemy that their goal is to strike fear in the hearts of their enemy. They have specific targeting and specific goals. We have to understand that this is a smart, cunning and vicious enemy. They represent an evil that is beyond what most people can understand.”
Because radical Islam has conducted attacks in 25 countries, Flynn believes that we need to strategically approach the Muslim leaders around the world and insist they join us in the battle. He believes that we have an opportunity this week to drive home how important the issue of terrorism is when the UN General Assembly meets. It is General Flynn’s hope that Muslim leaders around the world will work together to find a solution to fight this enemy on the world stage. “They need to step up to the plate — they have a cancer that will come back to bite them unless they do more,” said Flynn.
For many Americans, defeating ISIS and radical terrorism, in all of its iterations, seems like an overwhelming challenge that our leadership is incapable of defining, much less defeating. I asked the General about that winning attitude that seems to have been missing over the last eight years. His answer reminded me that as Americans, there is no enemy we cannot defeat, and that the temperament Trump brings to the table is a winning one. General Flynn stressed that we are Americans, and as such, we are fully capable of defeating terrorism. “There is no enemy that is unbeatable. We can beat anybody when we put our minds to it. For 15 years we have been participating in conflicts that never end. We have to look our enemy in the eye and take to task this radical ideology that has perpetuated itself around the world. We have to recognize it for what it is. It is beatable, and it can be stopped. I’m a father, a grandfather, one of nine children, and I have a large extended family. I want this country to be great again for them. I want to see us great, and not just for 4 years, but 40 years, 400 years, and beyond.”
General Flynn recognizes he may come across as frustrated when he talks about what he sees as a deficit of leadership in Washington. He told me it is not so much frustration that he feels — but determination. He said his resolve is as strong as it has ever been to help those who desire his help. When he initially met with Donald Trump sometime before the first debate, his first question to him was: “Are you serious about this?” He said he wanted to determine the degree of Trump’s commitment. Satisfied with Trump’s response then, and with what he has witnessed since, he is convinced that Trump is the right person for the job.
He said of that first meeting with Trump: “In the conversation in those hours we spoke, I saw in him an incredible leader, one who had a strategic vision for this country.” He believes Trump’s vision goes well beyond just four years of an administration. “This is a person who is willing to stand up and call it like it is. What we have in this country right now is an incredible deficit of leadership. They don’t have the guts to say the right things. Trump is not like that. His greatest strength is his temperament. His temperament is about winning, cutting to the chase, looking at his options and responding decisively in order to get this country moving forward. That is why I like him and why he has me around,” he said.
Flynn wanted to impress upon me that the conversation we were having was a strategic one. He said the American public needs to know that come the 8th of November it is a very simple choice: “We either continue with the type of leadership we have; which is dishonest, and a perpetuation of fraud, particularly under the Clinton machine, or, we have an agent of change who is reaching out to the American public. In our Nation’s history, leaders have episodically popped up, and thank God, have popped up at the right moment in time. People like Washington, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Reagan.” Now, he told me, we have another one of those moments in time, and Donald Trump has stepped in at just the right moment to lead. He believes Trump will win in a big way, particularly because Americans instinctively recognize leadership when they see it, and they see it, he said, in Donald Trump.
The decision this November is between a woman who cannot define our enemy and therefore has no discernible strategy for defeating it, and a man who is willing to not only define it, but strive for victory over that enemy. She would continue the “deficit of leadership” that Flynn described. It was President Obama that said in a pre-election interview in 2008 of Afghanistan, “I’m not comfortable with the word victory.” It may come as a surprise to our organizer from Chicago that the purpose of the military is victory. If that isn’t our mission, then the military shouldn’t be our tool.
I believe Donald Trump views the Executive Branch as an executive would. With that in mind I expect he would delegate responsibility accordingly, and seek good council. In truth, he probably sees this branch of government much like our founders did. In preparing for the job as an executive, he is, when choosing those who will advise him, looking for men and women who possess strong leadership qualities. This is certainly evident where General Flynn is concerned.